Tuesday, June 13, 2006


    I’m not sure if Bruce Almighty might have spelt it that way. He definitely pronounced it like that. But I took my chance because I’ve just wrapped up one of the best Sundays of my life. It was so lazy and casual that I could live every minute of it all over again. It began with a visit to the Church in the morning, a grand breakfast later and catching up with Sameer before lunch. Thereafter, I returned to the hotel for a sumptuous lunch with friends and that was capped off with the finest of Rasgollas. A blissfully peaceful siesta followed. When I woke up I got to gulp the perfectly heady cocktail of Tennis, Football and Cricket on Television. Later in the evening, the Chidambaram interview by Karan Thapar proved to quite an icing on the cake. And then it got even better. I went out to catch some roadside food with my colleagues and got back for another heavenly meal and this one was followed with one of the finest desserts I’ve ever had in my life. Phew…. Loved every minute of it. I guess, some days just have the right people around you, the right food on the roads and the right live matches on television.

    What a pity that God willed a Monday to follow such a Sunday… :-). Nevertheless, while I’m in here after a long time, I might as well put in my musings since I’ve shifted to Delhi.

    I think a newspaper is like that one woman in your life you wouldn’t mind going down on your knees for. In fact it’s quite similar to your favorite brand of cigarette. As much as you might have to put up with other women and cigarettes in your life, in most cases, only one of those women or cigarettes would actually mean special to you. The newspaper you read, I suspect, commands a similar degree of loyalty from you. It’s special.

    I had been a fiercely loyal Hindustan Times (HT) reader since Standard VII and if Jaydeep and Gaurav (my school friends whom I still manage to stay in touch with) are reading this, they could vouch for how much I hated the Times of India (ToI). I could never fathom even back then how crass journalism could ever sell so many copies. Jaydeep and Gaurav have been my best friends and having studied with them I knew that their sensibility could never have been doubted and hence I guess it was just their age-old habit of reading ToI in the morning alone that made them defend ToI. Little would I’ve thought back then in 1996, that exactly 10 years later, I would end up as a Management Trainee at HT. Ironically though, for the better part of my 2 years in Mumbai I'd to choose ToI until HT decided to have an edition in Mumbai.

    Nevertheless, having been at HT Media Limited for a little over a week, a couple of things could'nt escape my attention:

    1. To my mind, even a blind, illiterate, nincompoop could’ve told as emphatically in 1996, as in 2006, that HT is, by many a mile, the better product when compared to ToI .Hence I wouldn’t have been surprised if every one in HT went about rubbishing ToI. Surprisingly, hardly anyone trod that path at HT. I’d once heard from a friend at Maruti that they wouldn’t allow cars manufactured by Tata Motors within the office premises and that such employees had separate parking facilities. For us ToI isn’t a taboo. It’s an opportunity. The more people read ToI, I guess, people will realize better newspapers are available and will shift to HT. It’s but natural that people can eat rotten apples only as long as they don’t know that better apples are available. The key lies in breaking the habit of eating rotten apples.

    2. The quality of people HT has chosen for it’s new ventures. Farhad Wadia heads the HT Events business. Anyone following the Independence Rock in India since the last 20 years would know what that man is capable of. Darius Sonawala , the #1 RJ of Bangalore is in charge of programming for HT FM. Raju Narisetti, former editor of WSJ, Europe will be heading the Business Newspaper venture. Not to mention the heavy-weight combo of Vir Sanghvi and Mrinal Pande who are at the helm of the Editorial Teams.

    This is also the first time that HT has decided to recruit MT’s. Apart from SP, they’ve recruited from XL, IIM-A, L, MICA, JB and MDI. Incidentally, there are atleast 2 students from each of those other institutes that HT has selected students from and I happen to be the only guy from SP. In more ways than one this was a blessing, for it all the more epitomized the ‘new life’ that I’m beginning to love. No one knows me and I don’t know anyone. No biases, no friends, no relatives and no enemies. It’s a whole-new blemish-less white slate waiting to be splashed with colorful pieces of chalk and I wake up each morning looking forward to it. Pretty much in the manner Mr. Fox had advised Jerry Maguire to.

    And sitting through some of the presentations in the ongoing induction period made me love this ‘new life’ all the more. For instance, HT is about to launch a business newspaper and we are yet to decide the shape, color, size and price. HT Music is about to launch 4 radio channels and we are yet to decide a name for the FM stations. HT Events is another business venture and we yet to decide on our first event. If you’ve ever liked ‘starting from scratch’, HTML is a clear winner and I think that’s precisely the reason I’m all at peace with this company. For some vague reason I’ve always favored unpredictability and chaos. There’s little doubt in my mind that there is no better feeling on earth than etching a new story and giving it a meaningful ending. As of now I don’t know if I will be even a part of those ventures I just mentioned. I might not. Yet the anticipation of how exactly to give shape to each of those little stories is a wonderful feeling.

    Atleast for now, with the closing hours of this perfectly idyllic Sunday, I am completely at peace with myself and the world.

    May the love of the Lord be with you all! :-)

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