Experiencing Reality

A few days ago, when it was the beginning of the 10th day of Anna Hazare’s fast, people were literally glued to their TV sets to watch the drama unfolding, that is if they were not at the Ramlila ground to witness the action ‘live’. This scene happens to be the same at a newspaper’s office, where the staff, excluding reporters, sat in front of the TV screens to see live reports pouring into the 24X7 news channels.

While all this was going around, the only thing that was on Sarah’s mind was that she must file her story before 2 pm…Rushing into the office and without giving any attention to a news piece on Anna in the newspaper lying on her desk, she started working on the story. Her senior told her it must not take more than a couple of hours to file this story.

Nevertheless, she couldn’t continue working on it as a call disturbed her. She attended to it and after putting down the receiver moved to the head of the city section of the newspaper to confirm if he told the PR person, with whom Sarah just had a conversation, that she would be covering their event that evening. The senior’s reply was affirmative.

She filed her pending story after fixing up everything with the PR person, Payal. On the scheduled time she arrived at the venue at 7pm. in a cool cab arranged by the PR firm, a privilege that comes along with being an intern for a renowned newspaper.

Before she entered the five-star hotel, she very well had an idea about the event and all she could expect in terms of the lavish arrangements. After all, it was the launch of an international brand of whisky. What she didn’t expect, was the two hour long wait, a dinner with journalists from other publications and a face of society she had not yet seen.

As she entered, a press kit was handed over to her, which contained all the relevant information about the company, its background and a post-event press release. Sarah said to herself, “why do they give a post event release before the event starts. How stupid is this? And, it is anyway absolutely useless for me because nobody is allowed to cut-copy-paste information from a Press release. Even if one does or files a mere report of an event, no by-line was given for that story.”

During wait hours, she got introduced to journalists from other publications. After the whisky was launched and Sarah was done with her job of taking notes, all journalists were invited for dinner. Now, she was dining with them at a table reserved for Press, her status was at par with experienced journalists, despite being a mere intern.

While Anna was fasting, socialites, celebrities and journalist were waiting for their continental starter to be served. At that moment, a photographer brought up Anna’s issue. Much to Sarah’s surprise the reaction on her table was quite cold. A senior journalist said, “Please don’t bring Anna here, I have had enough of him”. What Sarah thought had the potential to turn into a heated conversation was received casually from the journalist.

Though they did put across their valid viewpoints about the whole Lokpal debate, Anna’s fast was nothing but another story they were assigned or just another news piece they had to keep themselves updated about for the sake of being journalists.

At the table across Sarah, Anna was probably not even discussed. Most people just brought Anna into their conversations to blame the rallies in his support for causing traffic jams. The irony lies in the fact that Hazare’s 12-day long ‘fast’ that shook the nation was reduced to a mere subject to initiate a conversation at ‘dinner tables’ at a Page 3 party.

While these discussions were going on and off, the guests had finished their main course. Sarah like a sincere observant noticed everything and everyone had left the venue as did the subject of Anna’s protest, because by the time the deserts were served, the booze had taken over all the glitterati.

Shikha Nehra