A few of them seek to regale you for a fee and give you what you desire to see, hear or read. Others just want to accompany you on sensual trips of exploration all over the world. They have the power to reduce every upheaval of excited turmoil into exclamations, sighs, and groans. ‘Read between the lines,’ they say and you do that with pleasure. Your relationship with them is almost non-committal and without the baggage of heart-wrenching emotions. ‘Give’ and ‘Take’ are the only two words that are forever enshrined in the relationship that I speak of. Which reminds me… do you even know who or what I am talking about?
‘Prostitutes?’ you venture and I have no alternative but to silence you with a mere glance.
‘No. I’m not talking of prostitutes. I’m talking of the press.’
I’ve been writing for years now just as I’ve been consuming my daily dose of newspapers even before I could actually read. Even from my early childhood I viewed everything there in the papers or in the magazines with disbelief and somewhat primed to evoke shock and surprise. For instance, Khushwant Singh’s Illustrated Weekly was always so buoyant and open about sensuality and I saw none of it as I peered out of my window at home or even when I was with my mother as she did her shopping in the market. My disbelief wasn’t unfounded. Small towns do not have socialites in low cut blouses and girls don’t walk around with cigarettes dangling from their lips. My conclusions changed over the years and facets that evoked disbelief then are routine now. However, elements of disbelief and shock are still present in full force in our media outpourings.
I am not surprised at the reaction of a certain TV Channel to General V K Singh’s remark in Djibouti: ‘Actually speaking, the operation (evacuation) in Yemen is less exciting than going to the Pakistani embassy.’ This media criticism is what made the General pout and say, ‘Friends what do you expect from presstitutes?’ It’s a simple enough conclusion of a former armyman who now is a poltitute… Oops! I mean a politician, of course. The incident made me wonder if it was really a case of a general blabbering about saving people and the media yawning until the word ‘presstitutes’ is uttered upon which all hell broke loose? I mean, is the press working overtime trying to invoke the Gods of disbelief and shock? Or is it simply the case of a General rushing towards imagined windmills as Don Quixote did?
Let me tell you a story here. Well, the often circulated story has the usual King and a Queen… but because we are a nation where a minister’s lost buffalo has the entire police force out on a combing mission, imagine the excitement when a General’s ass is a cause for concern. As generals generally do, this one in my story sent his ass to Yemen to take part in a race. The ass won and the headline was: ‘The general’s ass won!’ This upsets the General so much that he takes his ass out to a press meet and introduces him there. The next day’s headline was: ‘The General exposes his ass in public.’ The General is rightfully shocked and immediately goes to a nearby forest and leaves it there. Well, the next headline was: ‘The General announces that his ass is free and wild.’
I think both the General and the press have managed to build a molehill on a mountain top and will anyway soon be talking about the fantastic view from up there… and it is the aam aadmi of the nation who will be like the raindrops of a Jarod Kintz quote where they ‘gathered on the windshield like prostitutes at a political convention’, and the press voted like they always vote—with their windshield wiper.
It is my belief that both poltitutes and presstitutes are as much a part of the colourful medley of our nation as anyone else is… because, as Sebastian Horsley once wrote, both lock themselves in a room and are forever ‘inventing characters and conversations which do not exit’ without being bothered if this was really the way for a grown man to behave.
Article published in ‘The Huffington Post‘ dated 11 April 2015:
23 April 2015