Saturday, October 23, 2004

Ad Absurdum

People keep asking me, "Why don't you read the papers?"

There's no real answer to that question. It's like being asked, "why aren't you married?" a question that Bong / Gujju families on trains are wont to ask single women like me when we get trapped into the same compartment with them.

Truth is, I don't know why. The morning newspapers have never held much thrall for me. Barring The Telegraph Quick Crossword and the funnies, nothing much else in the papers has seemed worth it. Of course, flash-in-the-pan periods have happened - during my MBA applications, I read The Economic Times, like all other aspirants to the IIMs. Not to mention Business Today, Business India, Business World, Business Week, Business Standard... And again, during the week prior to placements interviews, like everyone else, I was on a strict diet of The Economic Times and Fortune Magazine.

Still, it bothers me from time to time. It seems everyone I know has a morning ritual involving tea / coffee, morning newspapers and the toilet, and I worry about why I have no interest in even glancing through the broadsheets. My newspaper-wallah has strict instructions to deliver papers to my door only on the weekend, when they come armed with bytes from some noted columnists who write commentary, not news.

This morning, however, when I sat down with papers and coffee, I finally figured why it is that I don't indulge in them daily. (I knew there had to be something). "Veerappan's wife to sue Government for laying a meticulous trap for him," or something to that effect, say today's papers.

For the uninitiated, Veerappan (Koose Muniswamy), roamed the forests of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu for years, and was wanted for slaughtering elephants without number, smuggling ivory and sandalwood worth billions (in USD), and killing in the range of about 130 men, including police officers and forest rangers. He may have single-handedly damaged the ecology of the Deccan, and endangered the survival of Indian elephants as a species.

And his wife wishes to sue the Government for hunting him down like a common criminal! And as though sueing the Government isn't enough, she then wants Government assistance with bringing up her children. Talk about biting the hand that may yet feed you.

I grant that it's not just the papers - art is a reflection of reality, after all, just as the papers reflect the world at large. Absurdity comes to our door, rolled up, every morning because the world supplies the presses with it every hour of every day. Somehow, that becomes a bit much to take. Which, perhaps, is why newspapers come equipped with comic relief too. If one can call it that.

A long-ago headline from the Times of India informed us, "Marital Law Declared in East Timor." Only that wasn't very comic either. The most recent winner of the Nobel peace prize, a woman who has planted 3 million trees in sub Saharan Africa, has had nothing to do with preserving or driving peace, and believes that HIV was created by evil scientists in order to do away with blacks. And a recent headline about the fight for American presidency states that the "hotness" quotient of candidates' wives and daughters is making a big difference to the race. God know that having a cute daughter is a matter of national importance, and the key factor to choosing the right candidate, and will certainly have a bearing on his understanding of the economy and foreign policy.

When mainstream news is this hysterical, it's a matter of debate why newspapers still maintain the Funnies section. But while they do, I'd prefer to get my laughs there. And only on weekends, please.

Until I decide to do a second MBA, that is.


yesbob said...

I can't help thinking - "morning rituals & papers.GIGO!!"

Kraz Arkin said...

Hmmm the loo is the best place to do the Hindu Crossword as far as I know. The sense of total detachment [ :P ] gets it, the crossword I mean, much faster than otherwise.

Kraz Arkin said...

Just dropped by to see if anything was happening...will be back.

Anonymous said...

oi...ever tried reading the economic times?makes a lot more sense!
Economic times on weekdays and Toi on the weekends are my reading fare.

Anonymous said...

Food for thought.
Came in by default and am quickly on my way out. It's sad to see that you're quick to form opinions (which are recycled, as you confessed) from other opinions, only repeating what you hear/read. Do us a favour and start reading the papers, yes plural (not only TOI, please..), so you can grasp a situation in its entirety. Poverty and Social work do not exist in isolation. The poor did not create poverty and volunteer workers did not create the causes they battle for.
Grab two dailies and head to the loo.