Place: Room No. 42, Airlines Hotel, Bangalore
Characters: R, U, M, K and me
Time: 12.30 am
(three on the bed, M on a chair. U is leaning on the wall, R reclining, K and me sitting cross-legged. Scene opens in the discussion)
U: (lights a cigarette) Mistakes happen everywhere yaar. There are enough stuff to write a book on it. (leans on the wall)
R: (sits up on the bed, smiling) Listen, jab mein Express mein tha, tab I was put on sports pages once. Two days I did fine. On the third day, there was this shooting match in Hyderabad. There was this guy Rathore, there was Narang... and Narang scored a second. I made the page, and was stuck with the headline. I typed ‘Rathore roars, Narang loses.’ White space phir bhi baaki tha, so I typed ‘Narang disappoints.’ Even then there was white space, so I typed ‘Narang disappoints again’ and increased the font size. The next day, my news editor called up. (changes the tone, says animatedly)
"Ram, Narang had scored yesterday. And you say disappoints?"
"He had won national and international tournaments before, and you say disappoints again?!!"
"Will you do this? Again?"
(whole group laughs)
U: (smiling) Ek baar na maine ek photo pe gapla kiya tha. In DC. Ram Reddy had bought 5 two-seater jets. So we published this photo of a firang and Reddy standing in front of an aircraft. Maine page kiya, showed it to the seniors, and send it for printing. I was in an auto on my way back ke Olga ne phone kiya, "arre, you’ve put the caption wrong. Ram Reddy is the right wala guy, but you’ve put it left!" Man! I asked the autowala "turn kar turn kar" and rushed to the office.
R: Tu ne K ka Sania story sunaa hai? (turning to K, smiling) Bol na.
K: Bataa, tu bataa.
R: There was this one-day match in Hyderabad, theek hai? And our K went to cover it. Now, there were sports reporters to cover the match, toh he had to pick the side-stories. Toh he decided to go for the celebrities who came to the match. Nagarjuna tha, Venkatesh tha, yeh tha, woh tha.. (a small pause) Sania Mirza thi. Copy file kiya, print nikla. The very next day, there was another statement from Sania Mirza, from Delhi! She was playing a match there!
K: What happened is that I saw a spectacled girl in the VIP section, who looked like Sania. I checked with a Telugu newspaper guy and he confirmed it: "Ya, ya, Sania was there." Phir maine socha ki will check the photos in the office and confirm. I was back in the office and was busy with some another stuff."
U: (interfering )And it went unnoticed.
K: Nahi, everybody knew it. They knew it. But nobody made it an issue. They were short of staff, so they didn’t want me out. Koi aur hota toh he would’ve been screwed.
Me: Even I also had made such a thing. When I had joined DC as a trainee. What they made me to do was international pages. (looking at U) You know how that is, right? (U nodds). Delhi se aata hai, you just have to change the masthead from AA to DC and the placeline. The page came, I changed it, showed it to seniors and sent it to print. Next day was my off. I came the day after, they showed me the page. Top story, eight-column banner headline "Iraq prepares for attack." It was supposed to be Israel, not Iraq!
Me: And a week after, a new girl came for a test and interview. After the test, she came, sat near my desk and picked up the very same paper from the pile. "Iraq prepares for attack? Can’t be. This is a mistake," she told me. "Ya, there is a sub here. Stupid. It’s his handiwork."
M: There are bigger goof-ups in these stringer copies. Once, when I was in Kochi, I got this copy of an elephant creating ruckus. The story went like this "The elephant went into fields, did this.. that.." and last sentence was like this: "...and the elephant went back to sleep!"
(gathering is roaring with laughter)
Me: Two weeks ago even I edited something like this. It was about somebody committing suicide over the LTTE issue. The line was "the deceased person was arrested earlier for committing suicide on the same issue!"
R: (giggling): Really?
U: See (lights a cigarette) I told you na. There are enough stuff to write a book on it. (leans on the wall)