Surprise, surprise! At a recent wedding reception of my cousin, the discussion point was not my singledom or my ‘settling down’. It was my column!
Practically everyone worth his grey moustache or bald pate or diabetic eye or bypassed heart had something to say. And it was all very interesting, as none of them, except one, may be had anything to do with the print/publishing/journalism industry.
They were all readers! That magical, mystical species.
Aunty No. 1 said she knew who idli-face was.
Uncle No 1 accosted me in front of my dad, and said in his I-know-what-you've-been-upto voice, "Did you know she stole your cigarettes?”
Dad and I had the last laugh.
Aunty No 2 told me she never knew I was so traumatised by my hair. She also said she was happy I made women look good.
Uncle No 2 said he was proud that I gave maximum footage to my mother and not my father. I stared at him.. what paper was he reading exactly?
Uncle No 3 moaned that his vendor gave him HT minus Café (Marketing, are you listening?), so he still hasn’t read anything, but gets regular ‘updates’.
Uncle No 4 said DNA gave him a better deal.
Uncle No 5 said he likes the way I spice my articles up, and that he was very proud of me. Spice? Now wait a minute. Now what was that about? Didn’t he know that in the case of our family, truth is stranger than fiction.
Uncle No 6 wanted my visiting card.
Uncle No 7 dropped names of big daddies in HT and asked me if I knew them. I mumbled something about ‘I will, when I have the time’.
Prim and propah Aunty No 3told me her kids also tried smoking and quit. She was amused that an independent woman like me still gets vishukanni from my mother.
Uncle No 8 wondered if Café was going the Bombay Times way, because he saw Pooja Bedi in a bikini on the cover(!). He gave me a mini lecture on how HT should maintain its niche by not doing so.
Uncle No 9 felt that I had finally arrived, as I was working with none other than Khalid Mohamed, and reminded me how he had got me inducted into his film reviews. (Go KM, go!)
Uncle No10 felt that I should be writing my travelogues in the paper, we should be doing more sports features and less gossip.
Uncle No 11, a paper expert wanted to know more about our press and our gsm.
Uncle No 12 dropped some more names.
What baffled me was there was nothing from the ‘young ones.’ Obviously, no one is reading (knock, knock, marketing!). I began to wonder if ours was a geriatric paper.
But what intrigued me the most was that no one asked me who was the significant other I refer to.
May be I had drawn my boundaries of ‘space’ a little too tight. May be there's too much of the 'don't mess with me' hangover I seem to have left behind.