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Adios my newspaper, adios valley that was never mine

The frenzied activity in Bangalore skies, for some reasons, brought about similar change at work - Suddenly there were perplexing number of chores to attend to, each clamoring for higher priority than other. The toiling did pay off today though my weekend was expunged leaving mind and body with; generous portions of exhaustion and a strange guilt for not having blogged!

I finally decided to change my newspaper. Changing a newspaper - especially one you have been brought up on - is one of the hardest thing to do. During my early school days it was Indian Express for me, but that had to change to Hindustan Times for some reasons. It was, well, a rude awakening! That little things like nuances of writing style, font of the headline, way the columns are organized, make such a significant difference to overall "feel" of the newspaper, occurs to you only once you switch newspapers. My newspaper for last 8 months or so has been Times of India. Now given the emotional trauma one inflicts on oneself by changing newspaper, there has to be a tangible reason for such a decision. In my case there were many. Firstly, the newspaper has been becoming propaganda ("marketing" would be a much milder term to use) machinery for Times group. You get overwhelming quantities of indiatimes, planet m, times music advertisements, at times, masquerading as news. Even reputed international magazines of the caliber of Time are not immune to the temptation of "cross promotion", something that occurred to me, when I saw the Matrix Reloaded story on Time's cover last month. Now as much as I love Matrix (digression: been trying for tickets and they are booked till Sunday :-(), its hard to miss the fact that Warner Bros. have stake in both the magazine and the movie. But the extent to which TOI does it - especially in their tabloid (Bangalore [replace Bangalore with your city] Times) section is a bit irritating. Secondly, there quality of reportage (I think) has been taking a beating. The selection of news has been arbitrary - I see news on front page that (in my humble opinion) should've ideally been confined to say page 3. But what got me ticked is the "Editor's Comment" that they had recently started appending to each story. Opinionated pieces like editorials and letters to the editors have been given respectful space bang in the middle of the paper and I refuse to see them anywhere else. It trivializes the whole story! And the lesser I say about their Sunday supplement the better :-). So there I was standing at my door, politely telling my newspaper wallah *not* to deliver TOI from Monday. Just when I was done, coincidentally, The Fours Seasons concert recording, playing in the background, came to an end and the thunderous applause that followed, seemed to be laden with some kind of hidden congratulatory message - For now I've switched to Asian Age (which to date, has been filling in the void left by TOI's Sunday supplement). Do leave in your recommendations, if possible with good reasons :-).

I am very woozy - mostly due to sleep deprivation, but I must mention the story of the Three Gorges I read last week in Newsweek. (It is also covered in this week's Time though is drowned by post war stories from Iraq). The Three Gorges dam is project in China, of magnitude hitherto unseen... Its basically a massive dam near the series of canyons called the "Three Gorges" the reservoirs of which will start flooding in next few weeks, drowning most of the tranquil land - a lot of it inhabited by civilization. The story, a short photo-feature, had, what perhaps would be the last photographs from the valley of the three gorges. There were photographs of demolished homes, people packing, ghost apartments and the beautiful landscape.. The thought that I could be the one packing in those photographs was upsetting. All of us, in our lives, grow wings, fly away from our homes, but there is that unquestionable hope of returning back. The thought that place where you spent good part of your life would be flooded - leaving you nowhere to return to - is extremely saddening. I'll be sleeping while staring blankly at these haunting pictures, their melancholy enhanced by grim notes of 3rd movement of Beethoven's String Quartet from Opus 132 (its funny how sometimes your senses conspire to amplify a single distinct emotion).
posted: 9.6.03

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