[I’m never going to say how much of I write is true and how much of it is an exaggeration. That’s for you to imagine. And absolutely no offense intended to anyone. I’m writing this because I love it that it is happening to me – if that makes any sense. I’m planning to write this as a series. The posts will get way too lengthy otherwise. AND, I’m hoping at least a couple of you out there will will the patience to read through! :D]
At about 12:50 a.m on 02 May 2011, I called up a friend and stuttered that the internship date was there, staring at me already. As thoughtful as a person who is my friend can get, the friend asked me to relax and have fun at the office – it was going to be fine. ‘Have fun.’ I rolled my eyes and pulled my blanket closer, laying awake for another couple of hours before falling asleep.
With much drama like the Indian Cricket Team – which CSK has dutifully picked up now – the 5 of us[Raji, Vaishu, Pradeepa, Dharini & I] arrived at the last moment, at the exact strike of 3 (or 3:05 or 3:10 – according to the time zones our watches liked to function in), we stepped into the office of the Chief Editor. I recollected the urgent need I had felt to burst out laughing when I had first stepped into that office a couple of days ago – maybe it had something to do with the creepy silence that crawled on me and the little picture I made up in my mind with me sitting at one of those cubicles and clicking away in a useless drone. I reminded myself consciously to control that urge and tried to put on my best poker face. [There was a small ulcer on my lower lip that gave me trouble at managing a decent smile. I had tried some 5, 6 times in the auto to smile a look-able smile, all of which were patiently borne by Dharini.]
After Vaishu very dutifully wrote her house address in a box that asked for our designation (Intern only.; chill.) and the spasms she went through before she calmed down enough for the deep knowledge of striking it off and correcting it sank into her, JS [Chief Editor] took us around the office, fitting us with some able personas in different sections. “This is Mr. I-didn’t-catch-the-name, Chief Editor for the ‘Commodities’ page,” JS sir says as he assigns me to that section. I run a mental google check to see if I remembered seeing such a page on ‘The Hindu’, if I had ever bothered to read about the err... ‘Commodities(?)’
He patiently and very politely – yes! – asks me my name, the college I come from, the course I do, what I am interested in, my interest(?) in working with ‘The Business Line’ specifically [And it dawned on me that I was with ‘The Business Line’ and that was why I hadn’t seen that page before! – For those of you who are still blinking, this is a SEPARATE newspaper, Rs 4, A Hindu venture, all business stuff and those boring Nifty, Sensex, Rates, Production, Inflation and God-knows-what-else]. He asked me a lot of things and I realized after sometime that he was letting me settle into a nice comfort zone. I liked him. It didn’t take him long to realize that I was completely blank and he started explaining from scratch what ‘Commodities’ were, why such a page was necessary [shrugs], how our paper [‘our’ – sticks on you after a few days!] is special at delivering the best and the likes.
After a few hours, I realized that I was conducting a mini-interview session out there. He has 2 sons, the elder one having played in the U-17 cricket team and given it up for his love for making movies, the younger one was in 9th std, he has a passion for writing, he very much enjoys everything he does, he loves his job, he thinks people should do only what they love to do. And, he had also managed to teach me some basic stuff, the working of the office, editing, procedure. He has a blog and as I tried to memorize the url, I read it aloud once: “Mister Subramani dot blogspot dot com.” “Umm… ‘Mister’ illa ma. It is ‘M’ ‘R’ Subramani. Those are my initials.’ With a sheepish grin and a totally innocuous observation of how it was so evident and stuff [Yay! I caught his name!], I try to concentrate on the first post on it, congratulating myself in my mind about the wonderful way I had managed to embarrass myself on day one.
In less than 2 hours he offers me to take a coffee break and as I hush a ‘I’ll be back in 10, sir!’ He laughs and says, ‘Take your time.’ After meeting up at the canteen, the 5 of us discuss and debate on the qualities and speech tones and nice-ity quotient of the people we are assigned to. I had really taken a liking to the man and my description of him made the rest want to eagerly anticipate their chance to work under him: Seriously! You can ask them.
With that glorious look on my face, I came back from the canteen after a good half hour and settled onto my seat when he said that he would be on an off for the next one week. The steam of pride simmered down. For the next few hours, I saw him editing a lot of articles and saw for the first time how a page was actually designed and the endless work that went into making it look like what we see on the paper every morning. He kept explaining me why he made some changes and every time he did that, he did a weird knee-jerk-type-of-a-movement with his neck. I made a note to myself that it was probably an involuntary reflex that had settled in and stayed there for a long time.
The TV on top – nice, huge LCDs they were – were tuned in to CNN eternally and the anchors, continuously, relentlessly, tirelessly went on and on the entire damned day about the killing of Osama the Laden. I mean, okay. You managed to execute a top-secret venture to kill one of the world’s most-wanted terrorists, now the world is a (safer?) place, you have managed to do it finally and all and everything. But the entire day, seriously? And what were the TV guys thinking, anyway? They kept playing a re-run of the public opinions of even innocent joggers hailing from countries including the US of A to the little-known nations hiding on the globe, stubborn that they will be visible only if you put a magnifying glass on top of them. Obama kept flashing in his royal suit every 3rd minute to make the announcement to the entire world and tell us that we could here after breathe more (safely?) et al. They ran special coverages from the birth of Osama, to his umpteen marriages, his children, grandchildren, what he did do, what he planned to do, what he tried to do, what he had managed to do, what he was thinking of doing, what the US had planned to do. [Facebook spams and viruses haven’t let Osama be yet, no? He is DEAD, people. Leave him in peace to rot in hell.]
At about 9:30, the other 4 came and waited near the cubicle and MRS, the gem of the man that he is, offered to drop us a good distance if we didn’t find a bus at that hour. The Chief Editor. Asking me if I needed a drop home. Because there might not be enough buses available at that hour. With another innocuous sentence that tried to say ‘Thank you, but I’m good, but still thank you’, I left the office.
The humidity difference between the office and the outside was making a point on Dharini’s clouded spectacles and for the first time ever, a true sense of inquisitive happiness shot through me. I. am. working. [alright, alright – interning]. at. The. Business. Line. of. The. Hindu.
P.s: I have to mention. Wonderful people they are. Humility is just the word.
[… to be continued]
~ Just Someone.