Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Frank Report

3.30 AM. The cursor is blinking on the white page of the word document that has been getting filled at a snail's pace for the past 4 hours. Perhaps it is the jinxed laptop, perhaps it is my sleepless mind playing games but somehow the blinking of the cursor seems to be a mockery dance... a dance in mockery of my plight; a plight that I often bring on to myself called deadline battle.

'Gandhi Park in need of a face lift' - goes the headline. With my sleepless ghost beaten face, I wonder who is in a more pressing need for a face lift - myself or the Gandhi Park. Suddenly, everything seems to be moving about in a blurred merry-go-round before the eyes - the park, the manager, the watchman, the children and memories of yet another adventurous reporting trip. A reporter has to , above everything else, be a shameless salesman - my first reporting assignment had taught this lesson and taught it well. A salesman has to pursue people and push them to buy. Well, a reporter does the same, only he pushes them to talk.

Born with a recessive salesman gene, I had wandered about the park, hoping...hoping what? that citizens of Coimbatore would queue up to talk to me? I entered and stood...and waited.... and waited. The children dint care. Well, they wouldn't have cared even if Gandhi himself had come to the park. By the time I had doted on the kids, the defensive instinct of the mother birds had already marked me suspicious and made no effort to conceal it in their looks. I zoomed in on one lady, who was busy swaying the swing that her kid was in. She was standing alone; worked in my favor (for self-defense reasons). Corner of her eye, she had already caught me approaching. By the time I neared her, she was half poised for attack.

"Hi! I am a Journalism student studying at ............ I am doing a story on this park and its popularity. What do you feel about the maintenance of this park?

"Its ok"

Its okay?? Hello Woman, I waste such a big well rehearsed introduction on you and you say okay? What is okay? This is NOT okay! Your sense of courtesy is not okay. Your observation about the park is not okay and most importantly, your boy shrieking there at the top of his lungs is definitely not okay!"

I nod and give a polite smile. "I see but what about the haywire drainage and water leaking all around the place?"

"That is ok"


And so it continues. By the time I was done with one woman who dint like wasting words, it was daunting to go and start the process all over again with another. Interaction with the 'masses' was supposed to be fun. I learnt that interaction and interrogation were two different things. The latter was not all rosy and exciting, especially when you don't have the authority to interrogate. I am not the head of CBI. Who are we kidding? I am a student who is literally begging for favors from strangers to finish my report.  

4.50 AM. "Gandhi Park remains an undisputed winner in people's minds despite its blemishes" - I wind up the report with the closing sentence. Tomorrow, to many of its readers, this report is authority. Words look powerful and larger than life. The people quoted in it are smart, wise and know it all. The writer was a brave, intelligent journalist who was bright enough to uncover the misery of Gandhi Park.


In a town of 500, 5 people take part in a singing contest. The winner is declared 'The best singer of the entire town'. And the media lived happily ever after.


Abhishek said...

the thing with interrogation , is the person you're interrogatin doesnt have much of a choice .

" it was daunting to go and start the process all over again with another . "

Was it the same with everybody ?

The Visitor said...


siddharth said...

Hilarious! A Frank Report remains an undisputed winner in people's minds despite the writer's self-proclaimed plight; a plight that she often brings to herself called the deadline battle! ;) Superbly Written!

PS: In case you werent aware - Gandhi Park is also the name of a movie.
Super flop though.. Dont bother watching!

Ragesh Dipu said...

yes... the media lived happily ever after... sindhu! it seems u r tasting journalism well... but the word "sales man" has very deep meaning... let me ask counter questions... to whom? sell what? for whom?... sorry... i know i dint hav any authority... i just asked...

Ragesh Dipu said...

actually i came to ur blog in search of a review abt goutham's "nedunisi naaygal"... i was curious abt the film since it borrowed the title of a poetry collection of Mr. Sundara Ramaswamy, my fav writer in Tamil... bt all my curiocity washed off after the film...

Anonymous said...

Well written.. good one..

Sindu said...

@Abhishek: The person who we're interrogating doesnt have much of a choice? Why, he has all the choice! :) Yes, it was quite the same with a lot of them.

Sindu said...

@ Siddharth: Thank you Sid! Yes, after a long time, I seem to have discovered my funny bones agn.

Sindu said...

@Ragesh: Hmmm... over here, I play the salesman in the sense, I am also literally pleading with them to buy - buy my plight and give me quotes.

But in the broader sense, if you ask, whom and why we are selling news for, then it is a huge topic and I cant do justice to it here. I shall write about it soon though :)

As for Nadunisi naigal... it was like a horror house show. You feel the thrill and come out and forget it. Nothing of impact . At least tht is wht I felt.

Sindu said...

@The Visitor: A smile could mean so many things. I will take the simplest one of them all - that you liked it. Thank you! :)

Sindu said...

@Anonymous : Thank you so much! :)