It’s a very slow day in office. Voting is going on in Mumbai and the whole world is closed, except the newspaper offices. People are also enjoying this brief break from rusty Mumbai life. As per the initial reports, the turnout is only about 10% in polling booths. Why trouble yourself standing in the crowd in this heat when you can sleep the whole day!
Why should a business paper be open when the stock market, banks or any other financial institutions are closed is beyond me.
Anyway, the boss is pretty calm today. He is a great journalist. He was trying his level best of rubbing his enthusiasm to me but with all my non-activities I have hopefully conveyed the message to him that I am not interested in being a great journalist as him. After several brave attempts including some bursts of inspiring lectures, he has realized his futility and is pretty chilled out with me now. These days he asks me about the weather instead of developments in my beat.
I have successfully conveyed to him that this is job for me and I have passion for it, but not ‘burning’ passion as he wants to see.
Let’s see how long this calm continues. I better do the most of it. I better write a blog post before the bossy wakes up from his slumber, he afterall, sometimes forgets my message to him.
All the star reporters are playing cricket outside. Earlier they used to make my life miserable calling me again and again to join them. But I have demonstrated to them my love for my chair and preference for arm-chair journalism and arm-chair cricket, i.e. watching India Premier League sitting on my chair instead of gathering like bees around the TV-hive. They now know that nothing except cigarettes attract me. But these people don’t smoke. So it takes some effort between us to communicate with each other. Most of the time they do the effort.
Of late, I am thinking of taking a break. Journalists, who in their entire career has achieved nothing, call it “sabbatical.” I know at least five six great useless creatures who have taken a sabbatical after five-six years of doing nothing. My boss, on the other hand, is the most diligent workaholic I have ever seen. I have never seen him talking about taking sabbaticals. At the most, seven or fifteen days leave to recharge, but that’s not sabbatical.
I doubt if he is forced to take sabbatical for a month, he will start a hunger strike at the gate of this office.
But I want a ‘sabbatical.’ I fit the bill perfectly. In my five years of journalistic career, I have done nothing, achieved nothing and I hope to remain the same in my next thirty years.
I fancy myself with that old bloke from the vernacular media who comes to the press conference every time to have free food. The guy is a fragile frame of his former self. As fragile as my news stories.
His body just needs a good shake-up to breath its last. Going by the bulging bags under his fish-like eyes, bent spine, withered skin, I am sure this guy is the happy playground of all kinds of diseases, diabetes to start with.
Yet, this septuagenarian savors a kilo of the sweetest sweets, finishes almost one whole cooked sheep, and eats rice equivalent to a produce of about a square-hector field. If the press conference has drinks too, most of the time people carry him office after the conference. During the conference, he snores. Yet, he comes back for the next conference perfectly fit.
He is my inspiration. I know if he can survive in this profession, I will also. For that I don’t need to be as active as my boss.
My colleagues have realized I am like that ancient stone. You cannot move me. If you really want to disturb my peace, you start worshiping me. They come back to me for some inspiration and pastime when they think they have done enough for the day and are dead tired. With my inspiring talks of non-activity, I give them the much sought after peace of mind.
They don’t disturb me anymore.
I am a perfect guy to flaunt a ‘gone-for-a sabbatical’ tag. But I have to wait for sometime before that. Meanwhile I can go for a fifteen-day vacation and go unnoticed. Far from the madding crowd, if I may be allowed to say it poetically.
I am making some effort in searching for the ideal place. During weekends I am going to far off places to check if my mobile picks up signals. The place where my mobile won’t pick up signal should be the perfect place. It should be “not reachable” whenever contacted. People should not get me when they want. But I should be able to get them whenever I want. The place should be cheap and should have an abundance of chicken and mutton serving restaurants. Booze should be duty-free and the only channel to come there should be Doordarshan. Internet should be unheard of and cable television a dream-come true. Yet, there should be electricity. I should be able to sleep properly with the fan on and mosquito repellants diligently doing their duties.
Oh yes, newspapers should not come there. If you have noticed, the world plunged into sadness after newspapers were invented. Before newspapers, literatures were like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Iliad, Odyssey -- all those great books of superhuman activities. People instantly realized they are not able to match the heroes there and so they didn’t dare to be active, instead sitting calm and composed under the great banyan tree and believing whatever the interpreter told them.
Post newspapers, literatures are like “Hard Times” “Ulysses”, “Outsider”, “Sons and Lovers” and the mother of them all – “War and Peace”. Basically all those troubled-conscience pieces that was possible by writers who read newspapers and started thinking parallel. Not only reading man, the writers were journalists too. All those sad lots …
I also read newspapers. I read them everyday to find out what people in my beat has written and to crystal-gaze as how my day in the office will start.
On my way to the office, being one smelly sardine in the great moving can of sardines, I device clever answers to save my arse from the inevitable question of my boss, “why have you missed this?” My day start with that and ends with, “What? No story for tomorrow too??? I really don’t know how you …”
I hate newspapers. Newspapers should be a strict no-no at the place of my mini-sabbatical.
Oh yes, the most important of all. It should be a paid leave.
There is no incentive in going to a place just for doing nothing when I am getting paid doing the same thing in office everyday.