Remember the time our dads watched consecutive news programs, first in your regional language, then in Hindi and finally in English on good ol’ Doordarshan? It undoubtedly frustrated you no end that they would watch the same news, even the same video clips over and over again in different languages and keeping us from watching Superhit Muqabla (yup, we didn’t have much choice then). Then finally God intervened and we discovered the 24 hour news channel and a second TV; all domestic disturbances ended almost instantly.
But then life got busier or we just grew up and coming home before 8pm was uncool. Fast forward few years and we suddenly found ourselves being as interested in news as our dads. Of course, first came denial then gradual acceptance that we were indeed morphing into our parents. The first brush with real news in newspapers, before rushing for the comics or the sports page was a reluctant look at the headlines usually hogged by some gruesome killing of Kashmiris or a new scam in a department that we never knew existed. The political cartoons were a definite draw but in order to enjoy them, you had to read the news. Although you hated to admit it, all the mundane stuff suddenly seemed interesting, although you still read the last page of India Today first and paid homage to the page 3 girl in Mid-Day. Politics with its horse-trading games, annual general elections, and dramatic speeches by firebrand flash-in-the-pan netas was amusing. We lived in interesting times, so said some wise Chinese dude long time ago.
The Economic Times or Financial Times, depending on your publication house loyalty, was the next step although mostly it was “you have to start reading that stuff now” statement by dad that made the case. I gave in early partly because I didn’t want to sit through another recital of the Herculean tasks that he managed to do in woefully short span of twenty four hours in his childhood. But he neither had cable TV nor the Internet to waste time on. But I digress. The Nana Chudasama speeches after the budget was almost like must-see TV before Friends came along. I never thought that all those boring facts and figures with confounding acronyms would have an impact on my life. But kids, don’t repeat my mistakes, you will thank me later (gosh! I am talking like my dad).
Not all that newspaper scrounging went waste. I BSed all over an essay when our professor asked us to write couple of pages on Amartya Sen’s advice to Vajpayee and actually managed to pull it off, earning a few brownie points. Now many years have passed and I wonder how we ever lived in the pre-Gutenberg era without any printed word. Imagine lugging that stone tablet on your work everyday. No matter what section of the newspaper (real-time or online) we read, we cannot ignore all the information around us. It is actually uncool these days not to know stuff. Imagine.