On Matters That Matter

The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones

Is The Column One Doesn’t Understand Great?

with 2 comments

I still remember parts of an entertaining conversation that a small group of a couple of my colleagues and I had about a decade ago over a few beers at the Press Club on Raisina Road. It was against the norm of our daily life; where we rarely ever had an alcoholic beverage during the day. It was a day when we got free from the office around noon and decided to visit the-what-we-then-thought as an entertaining watering hole.

Somehow our group with an average age of about 25 found itself in the company of the late Chand Joshi. It would be an understatement to say that we had a good time because we had a blast and Chand Joshi of the Hindustan Times was hilarious, brilliant and thoroughly-captivating for almost three hours that we spent with him. I don’t remember the exact phrase but among dozens of spontaneous gems he also said something to this effect: he said he did a few stories in a year that everyone understood and he did at least one that his employers did not understand; otherwise why would they pay him. The punch line was that he did one story that even he did not understand and it was this one that brought him the maximum praise.

Chand Joshi was just having a go at the enthralled audience and I am quite certain he didn’t seriously mean it, but once in a while I am seriously-confused if the HT Sunday column ‘Red Herring’ follows this approach. The columnist has a decent grasp of subjects apart from sports but he stays true to the name of the column and allows himself a deviation once in a while. A piece headlined ‘The (a little too) beautiful game’ done on October 2 talks about cricket and assumes what would bring delight to the purists. A comment on the Hindustan Times blog ‘Page One’ on a post called ‘Story we all missed’ took on the October 2 piece and said: Moral of the story, those who don’t really follow the game, should not try writing about it; more so when it’s a national daily. And if it’s too itching, as smarter souls do, it’s always better to avoid those technical mumbo-jumbos.

On many Sundays it is a decent column with an eclectic mix of subjects. A recent one about Golf and adultery, though, was a complete wastage of expensive newsprint and real estate on the edit page. Why do I harp about it? Well because I read that ‘we the editorial writers’ are no strangers to insults and, therefore, enjoy having a bit of fun at the expense of others. I am also told that editorial writers find the ‘frustrations’ of others as a darn more enjoyable sight than fisticuffs. So an opportunity to have a go at the edit page is too tempting to avoid; but there is no point losing my shirt about it as edit writers are large-enough to encourage the less-then-fortunate souls having a crack at them. And I have taken this advice at face value when it was given with a straight face to people in one of the edits a while ago.

The real reason for my post, though, is that ‘Golf and Gomarrah’ brought back a lot of nostalgia about my school days in Kullu. Those were innocent times and were also the years when video parlours were a rage in small towns. The column had the quality for which we lied and cheated in our early teens to indulge in a pleasure that came with a bit of guilt, some fear of being spotted and a lot of excitement. A new film by Dada Kondke had hit the video parlours and we risked being spotted by the friends of our parents and sheepishly went in and sat in the back benches and enjoyed the sexual innuendos.

The films were pretty-close to the nature of the column that says: “I haven’t ever uttered this in so many words before, but I’ve always considered golf to be a dodgy sport. After all, how can you trust a man — let alone have babies with him — who swings a rod, thwacks a ball, walks a distance, swings and thwacks a ball again, and keeps walking until the ball plonks into a hole?

Now, would you have thought Tiger to have been such a randy dandy? I doubt it. Shane Warne? Of course. David Beckham? Very much possible. Rahul Dravid? Why not? Any basketball player? Goes with the job. But solid, upright, well-postured Brand Tiger? Who would have thought?

Well, I did.

Like incest, clunky gold watches and living-room fountains, there’s something hokey about golf. The sport is as what-you-see-isn’t-what-you-get as Deepak Chopra, double-breasted jackets and management workshops involving ‘trust games’. The sport is, I’m told, a complex, subtle mix of skill and mental toughness and silly shoes. That sounds ominously like the skills needed to be a good adulterer.”

I can’t question the author’s knowledge about the skills needed to be a good adulterer; but on golf I can safely say that he has missed the greens and the fairway by a mile and has not even managed to land in the rough.

2 Responses

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  1. Indrajit Hazra’s views on Golf ARE his handicap. Tiger swung wildly and is now paying for it. But it doesn’t look like Hazra has ever been near a green, forget wearing “silly shoes”. He seems lost. In Golf parlance, we would have said – he’s trying to salvage a par. Golf, far from being a adulterer’s delight, is more egalitarian than Hazra can ever imagine. Maybe, he can start off by watching Kevin Costner’s TIN CUP, where the hero tells Rene Russo after a romp which was no better than his round of Golf: “Sex and Golf are the two things you can enjoy even if you’re not good at them.”


    December 21, 2009 at 11:58 am

  2. Hazra’s column is just a reflection of the quality of journalism as it exists in our country these days… anybody can write on anything and there is no accountability. You know the saying ‘Jack of all trades… ‘. So anything goes including writing on golf when, in all probability, the author wouldn’t know the right end of the stick from the wrong one.

    Unfortunately, insulting and casting aspersions is a popular pastime because it makes ‘good copy’. In this case, the author would be well advised to stick to what he knows, and I’m not too sure what that is.

    prabhdev singh

    December 29, 2009 at 5:51 pm

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