Sunday, March 16, 2008
The 'thinking Indian's' newspaper
Of course if you are a `thinking Indian' (t. I.) you have no doubt which newspaper I am talking about. It the Mahavishnu of Anna Salai, or do I mean Mount Road. So what makes this the t. I.'s newspaper? Well, for a start, the headlines on most days are about stories in Pakistan. Thanks to the t. I's newspaper, Asma Jehangir is almost as famous as Sachin Tendulkar. And I now know what the 'Muree accord' is. Let us not forget that on the day all other newspapers, those of non-t. Is were reporting on atrocitires in Nandigram, the Mahavishnu had a lead story on lawyers in Karachi protesting against the suppression of democracy. Then on page 9 there is the story of some visiting scholar who gave a talk somewhere in Madras about why US imperialism is the worst enemy of mankind. Not police repression in Nandigram, but the machinations of Dick Cheney and Condi Rice. But it is important for the t. I. to be well-versed in matters of the Rio accord, of the most recent speeches of Hugo Chavez. Turning finally to the Mahavishnu's Sunday magazine section, normally the first page is about some horrifying story in the country about female foeticide, starving peasants, but by the time you turn the page, you read stories of how their columnist watched games of the Krishnans in various idyllic settings. In fact, not just that: you learn that the columnist's alma mater is that preminent college in Delhi, where this humble blogger recently gave a talk, and you also discover that "shift-I" is the most used letter in that column. There must be stiff competition among suppliers of this valuable letter on the keyboard to replace that on his keyboard. If some reason that columnist's column is missing, take heart: the t. I. can look forward to an article by an alumnus of the self-same college, retired official of the United Nations organization, author of novels at least one of which tailors itself loosely on the life of the big B (surprising he never faced a libel suit!). The template here is also available: start out with soup with a lady friend at a restaurant in New York, or in Paris if it is really special, move on to sylvan landscapes in Kerala, a little bit of self-indulgence and name dropping and the t. I.'s apetite for intellectual satisfaction is whetted. And then by the time the t .I. reaches the last page of the pull out section, he or she finds themselves walking along the banks of the Rhine with sunsoaked vineyards, or in Ireland, and at times in the Swiss alps. So unlike Rahul Siddharthan, why do I still keep buying the Mahavishnu? Here is the secret: the only crossword that I have a chance at cracking is the Guardian Quick Crossword that the Mahavishnu reprints in the Metrosection. But that is only on the weekdays. I must confess my addiction to the Literary Review in the Sunday edition and I can never remember which weekends it appears and so I buy every Sunday's edition.