Spirit of the occasion

As the Teacher’s Day passed this week, I got down to think deeply about teaching, a profession so noble and respectful that they have gone ahead and named a whiskey after it.

When I first came to know that there was a whiskey named Teacher’s, my immediate reaction, as a sincere professional who is in a field that is also equally involved in enlightening and educating the public, was one of disgust. My indignant question, naturally, was: Why did they not call it Journalist’s?

A friend, who works in the ad field, later explained that Journalist’s doesn’t make the cut because it doesn’t quite have the stylish ring to suit a Scotch, which is no ordinary drink. It is classy liquor that is smooth and easy on the drinker but strong and robust enough to cause stomach burns in those who can’t afford it.

The buddy from the ad industry was categorical that Journalist’s, as a name for a whiskey brand, sounds cheap and déclassé. He did say that they could have gone for Block Development Officer’s, which certainly sounds grand and imposing. But the problem is nobody is wise enough to know what a Block Development Officer actually does.

Anyway, I was disappointed that the liquor industry does not take us journalists seriously, especially in the context when we journalists do take liquor most seriously.

Also, we live in an era where if the liquor industry folds, well, journalism will die.

I am, of course, bringing up here the phenomenon of ‘Page 3 Journalism’, which is that part of journalism — pay close attention here as I am going to part with an important professional information — which does not involve any journalism.

As a matter of fact, ‘Page 3 Journalism’ does not involve ‘Page 3’, too. (Also, as an aside, we would like to point out here that ‘Page 3’ itself is not ‘Page 3’ in most newspapers these days. ‘Page 3’ is actually ‘Page 1’, while ‘Page 1’ is what people really buy newspapers for: Advertisements).

‘Page 3 Journalism’, in a nutshell, is for those hardy individuals who look up to newspapers to provide answer to the insistent socio-cultural question: Who went to which pub and with whom? In other words, it is for those who wake up with a social query and a severe hangover.

When the sun slinks away like a reluctant lover, when the shadows lengthen stealthily like the practiced hands of a pickpocket, when darkness creeps in smokily as if from a hidden incense stick, when the rough edges are blurred into smooth sensuous curves suggestive of beauty and danger, when the harsh colours of the city are prismed out into a kaleidoscope of Dalisque dreams, step out a gregarious set of people into the Klieg lights of bonhomie and banter and into the focus of fun and fervour, unmindful of the fact that some of the readers have already moved on to the next line because this paragraph has become way too pretentious and lengthy .

It is easy to be dismissive of these people as ‘party animals’, but remember they are hardy souls who brave many things in the world all through the night so that they get to fill an entire page in newspapers that harried readers can relax over by totally ignoring it.

It is facile to think that anybody who goes to a glitzy pub or an extravagant event stands a chance to make it to these ‘party pages’. I can confirm to you that we journalists have strong gatekeeping mechanism in place to keep out the people without the right credentials.

By right credentials I actually mean right names. When you open the party pages, you see Pooja, Barry, Shilpa, Ajmal, Sonam, Wilson or other names that prominently involve ‘Q’ or ‘Z’ in its spelling. It is impossible to come across a ‘party page’ with a photo that has the caption: ‘IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO: Muthazhagi and Marimuthu grooving and gyrating on the dance floor.’

So to make it to parties, and then to party pages, the trick is to not have a name like dowdy names like Doraikannu or Vandar Kuzhali. Journalism has no time for such people.

But all manner of people who can be compressed into convenient acronyms like DJs, RJs can make it to the parties. But CJs don’t get invited apparently because they wear too many robes.

Talking of names, alert people, who are still reading this, would remember that we began with Teacher’s Day before we got sucked into the whole controversy of naming an alcoholic drink after those people who actually inculcate in us sobriety and sincerity.

We in India will never get down to diminishing our acharyas or teachers.

India, built as it is on tradition and heritage, sets much store by the paramapara of Guru Sishyan, which is why we have accorded the greatest honour that is possible in these parts —- make a Rajnikanth movie with that name.