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I'd write more, like you said I should. If only, there was more to me.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


I joined the old Lady of Boribundar in the good old days. When copy had to be edited on actual scripts which took a painstakingly long time to emerge out of the printer. The salmon sheets had to be attached to the copy with an indication of the font size, the upper lower cases marked for the heading and the sub-heading. Once you did all of that it would be sent to the Chief Sub-Editor, who if you were a newbie, would routinely spike your copy.

If you were lucky, it would make it to the copy checker, who would in a sheer demonstration of prowess make a couple more changes then put it back in a red tray to send it back for the Chief Sub to look at. All of that would then make it to the type-setter, bromides would emerge from a freezing room. They would be put back on a tray, sent back to the desk. The Chief Sub would look at his clock. If he was the confident sort, he'd take the lead and get cracking on his pages. The not so self-assured ones would wait for the Bombay Times headlines to arrive before deciding on their pages. Then with lotsa bromides in hand, we would all march to the paste-up room to start making the pages. Once that process was completed, it would go the camera room for the negative of the real page which would then make it to the press located strategically on the other side of time.

Those were the days. Laborious but lots of fun. We discovered so many things, often by looking at the negatives. On night, for instance, just as we were walking out I glanced at the negative and felt the R.K. Laxman was ulta-pulta. Imagine that! I told the Chief Sub about it who shrugged it off as the 'paper is upside down no'. So we walked to our waiting van and had driven past C.G. Road, when the Chief Sub started having his doubts. Given that we didn't have the luxury of cell phones, we had to turn the van back to get to the newsroom. The page was on its way to press and we intercepted it just in time to realise the said cartoon was indeed upside down.

A lot has changed since then. Blogs, for instance, give you total control of your content (in a sense) and the medium itself. You can cut, copy, paste without having to go through the whole selection and rejection change. Getting content out there is almost as easy or as difficult as the speed at which you - the writer can generate it. We spoke about this, after the blog panel got on, then off, then on again at the Ubud Writers Festival. A comment on media, straddling between three - print, TV and blogs was something that stirred one of the participants there who first mentioned the word 'workshop.'

Having never addressed anyone beyond my children and facing rejection as a teacher in the extreme degree when it came to teaching them, I wasn't sure if I was entirely upto. But you never know till you try. So when Libby asked if I'd like to do a workshop at the Galle Literary Festival, I decided it was time to get my act together and go through the world of print, TV and blogs - worlds I live in.

The venue provided by Amangalla was perfect for straddling between worlds as it were. And my master-class even more so. There were two students on holiday from Melbourne and their enthusiasm and ability to pick the right angles as well as pitches for stories was amazing. The Brandix team taught me so many ways of pitching more than just their own products. Rohanti Alahakoon, an award-winning poet entrusted me with some of her work. Sanjiva Gauthamadasa from 'The Lighthouse' taught me more than a thing or two about marketing 'single estate tea.'

Gehan de Sliva (a separate post on him shall follow) turned out to be an eco-warrior in corporate clothing. Janet de Neefe, as always touched me by her sheer presence. And at the end of the three hours, I'd learnt as much from the charged participants as I hope they did for me.

So when the question was asked : "Would you do again?"
I responded, "If you give me the platform, absolutely."

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