This post is for Parul's contest. She's a cool momma to Adi and Ragini, the writer of a hilariously funny blog (Radio Parul) and the author of a book (Bringing Up Vasu, That first year). Her new book (By the Water Cooler) is ready to hit the stands and I'm looking for an autographed copy...
I always thought my office days were pretty charged. We were either gossiping or grappling an emergency. And if things got a tad dull there was always the daily deadline looming large. That’s the thing with working for a newspaper -- you get your daily dose of adrenalin without fail.
However now that I’m expecting myself to come up with a post on office, nothing seems worth a mention. I can’t give up without a fight, though... after all autographed copy ka sawal hai. So I’m offering a few clippings for the contest…
Reminder: Parul you did say you weren’t looking for masterpieces… so there.
To begin with we once had a Bengali editor with a penchant for catchy headlines and puns. So stuck was he that he’d think of headlines first and then expect us to come up with a related article. For a piece on Minissha Lamba he took a fancy to the title, 'Ek Lamba Ladki’. He just wanted it. I was dubious to say the least.
-- first the headline was entirely in Hindi not too good for an English paper
-- the grammar was all wrong.. it had to be Lambi ladki, which of course he didn’t appreciate being a Bong (no offence to my Bengali friends but many of you do get your genders mixed up).
-- lastly, the biggest problem of them all, the petite Minissha Lamba is just not Lamba.
what a tussle of wills that was.
Then there was the case of the tired sub, editing the last piece for the day, with the editor breathing down his neck, the deadline long dead. He scurried through the copy….. a final spell check and he was done. Next day the article appeared, a tad weird.. the spell check had converted then Prime minister's name Atal Behari Vajpayee to Atlas Behari Vampire… What a hoo haa followed.
However, it’s not nice to blame the sub editors all the times. The kind of copies they get can sure take a lot out of them. A rookie reporter once had to stand in for the sports reporter. Wrote she, “The team struggled for a long time till finally lucky lady smiled at them…,” Lady luck – lucky lady.. what being the difference?
There are of course famous mix ups – the typo that changed the ‘marital’ to ‘martial’ not much difference there but when the ‘l’ was dropped from ‘public’ there were serious repercussions. Oh and there were others.. the sub editor writing ‘use picture of Zakir Hussain’ only to find the percussionist sitting in place of the President next morning.
Outside office, life was no less exciting. We had a driver called Dileep who took us home every night/morning. He drove like a maniac and to make matters interesting.. he was extremely short tempered and an alcoholic to boot. How desperate we would have been to get home to entrust our lives to him!
Fortunately I had my own vehicle and on most days would make my way home on my own. However when it got exceptionally late Dileep would be instructed to follow me as I drove home. He had a thing with my building guards. He would honk much before we reached the building expecting the guards to have the barrier open, which they refused to do insisting they had to check who’s in the vehicle before they let him in. This irked Dileep no end. And one day he simply rammed the jeep into the barrier. The windshield came crashing down…filmy style.
On the way home was a boys’ hostel. Normally things were pretty peaceful. One eventful day I rode on a little ahead of the office jeep. I had barely crossed the hostel when a stream of boys poured out of the hostel brandishing swords. (Yes in Bhopal, where I was then, boys would settle scores with swords and no I’m not joking neither is this a figment of my imagination). I rode on blissfully unaware of what was happening in my wake while my colleagues in the jeep had the scare of their lives. Mercifully it was an inter-hostel war so the boys weren’t interested in any of us at all plus the reporters got to report an 'aankhon dekha haal'.
So much for adventure.