Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
We think this was the horror story which was waiting to happen, putting the computer to work where it couldn't be of any help. A story that has killed the demand for good copy editors, which, partially, contributed to our downfall. The copy desk, once the privilege of well-read, all-knowing, grammar-proficient sub-editors who really controlled quality is now dead, as an institution or otherwise as a profession. That's why Indian novels turn out to be of atrocious quality, you turn away in disgust at the mistakes. Pick up a Bhagat or a Trivedi and you are spot on. Combined with this is the fact that there aren't anything called fact checking or research and the book becomes a poor cousin of those produced abroad.
In the mad scramble for releasing titles, publishing houses are forgetting a very important ingredient of the publishing process, the copy desk. No, this is not self glorification, this is the plain truth. Everyday we have to wince through the growing number of mistakes in newspapers and magazines and, believe us, the online media isn't free of them either. You don't have to skim deep enough, you will find the bloopers floating on the surface itself. I have a novel before me which begins "Only one death reported in the press," in the second line. It seems as if one death rose from some graveyard and reported itself to the newspapers concerned.
Don't worry, the meaning is clear, no? Why bother with grammar or syntax as long as meaning is clear? True not all writers (including us, yes, we need a lot of editing) are perfect, but a second opinion is what the publisher must seek and what could be better than the in-house second opinion of the sub-editor? I have worked under brilliant Chief sub-editors (the leader of the copy desk) who could point to a mistake though the entire team might have overlooked it.
Ah, those were the days! Could we bring them back please!
Thursday, September 26, 2013
We were at this mall today and we see another veteran like us - a statesque grey-haired sardarji - also studying the landscape sitting on the bench where we sat. We wanted to reach out and ask what he did during his lifetime and how he is doing. But seeing the ominous silence he was enveloped in we demurr. May be, a tragedy has ocurred, may be, something he doesn't want to discuss. We let him alone and we sit in silence. People pass in different states of being occupied - mobiles, music, talking into their devices, playing games on tablets, texting, whatsapping, whatever that means. And there is silence, broken only by a toy train that whisks children around the mall, playing a tinny tune, resembling a real train's sounds. Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Good" had an entire verse on trains:
He used to carry his guitar in a gunny sack
Sit under the tree near the railway track
Engineers would see him sitting in the shade
Strumming to the rhythm the drivers made.
Well the song is our favourite and ranks among the top ten songs of all time, and Chuck Berry is a great singer. He is still alive. We like to imitate him singing the song but can't capture his vitality, his mojo, his stage presence. The singer in us has died.
Where were we? Okay, at the mall, we sit in silence, now that we are retired, studying life and what went wrong and how it could have been corrected. We - the Sardarji and us - aren't mobile addicts. We regret certain mistakes of our life, which might have, hypothetically, contributed to global warming, religious extremism, the recrudescence of superstition and blind beliefs in people's lives. In Nairobi, Kenya, a mall was attacked and people died. A mall as the one we were sitting. In India a man who fought superstition was killed. A cousin's son died at the age of 38 in a desert kingdom. What wrongs have we done to be thus?
What went wrong with the marketing and branding of our country that we have to think of selling our family jewels to save our currency? Are we no longer the outsourcing back office of the world? What went wrong? What?
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Also, we are working in advertising which pays rather well. Our friend Sujit was one such, a ponytailed copywriter with our agency of the time. We envied his ponytail, which was thick and lustrous. He told us he drew a salary of Rs 4 lakh a month. We were incredulous. How can it be possible? With that kind of money he might be having a dream life.
Sunday, July 7, 2013
Monday, June 24, 2013
Friday, June 7, 2013
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Friday, April 12, 2013
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
On the journey to Kerala to attend wifey's mother's funeral we travelled by the superfast express Durondo. Our co-passengers were a very strange group. Strange in the sense they kept eating tobacco all the time and making fun of other co-passengers in their language. Now what was that language? I didn't know a word of it. Usually my antenna is sharp in recognizing languages, and, I can say with pride I recognize most languages of India. But this beat me. So, I assumed it must be Sinhala or some other language. They were a rough bunch and looked like laborers of the Persian Gulf from their habits. They also frequently went to the toilet, may be, to drink, who knows. You may know that I had a stint in Saudi and I could recognize them, just like that. They were in a group and knew there was no one to challenge their bad habits and brashness. Therefore, they did a lot of unacceptable things like talking well into the night, not switching off the lights, waking up too late, and then making fun of co-passengers and laughing. It was drunken brash behavior. I was thoroughly depressed by their attitude, but I kept quiet, as I was outnumbered and I had my wife to think about. She was in a tender state of shock and any disturbance would further affect her equipoise. So I said nothing. Silence is best resorted to in such situations. Of course, it's their choice to travel but Durondo or any other train, but couldn't they be more civil?
On the way back we had only sleeper accommodation in the train. There were a bunch of carpenters returning after installing some furniture in Kerala. They also exhibited the same characteristics as the above alluded group. I guess, when they are in groups Indians (like political activists) thing they can do anything. May be I am growing old, but, I don't remember having seen such behavior in my fifty-odd years of travelling in trains.
Yeah, I think it's the growing old thing. People are banding together for security. Soon, will polarization along various lines result? Or, are we already polarized?
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Sunday, February 10, 2013
Jezebel was a Phoenician princess, the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Phoenician empire. She married King Ahab of the Northern Kingdom (i.e. Israel during the time when ancient Israel was divided into Israel in the north and Judah in the south). She helped convert Ahab from worship of the Jewish God to worship of the Phoenician god Baal. After she had many Jewish prophets killed, Elijah challenged 450 prophets of Baal to a competition (1 Kings 18), exposed the rival god as powerless, and had the prophets of Baal slaughtered (1 Kings 18:40). Jezebel becomes his enemy.