...and then

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Give us today our daily smoke

Cut the smokers some slack, okay? It's bad enough that people, especially women, wrinkle their noses and start lecturing you about the ills of smoking the minute you pull a stick out. Now, like a bunch of brainwashed dominoes, one country after another is falling for the smoking ban.

Look at what smokers have to face. Apart from tolerating really disgusting pictures that manufacturers have to use to mar their beautiful packaging with in some countries like India, smokers have to deal with being judged as
a) people who don't care about themselves
b) people who don't care about others
c) people who do it because they think it looks cool

They also have to tolerate all and sundry wax poetic about lung cancer, passive smoking, nicotine-tinted hands and teeth, mouth cancer -- you know the drill. Really, what is it about morally superior people who think they can make an iota of a difference in a smoker's life by saying things like, "Go ahead, kill yourself."?  I say, do  you say that when you get on a plane, drive a car, eat a burger? All this could kill you too, you know.

The very self-important and sometimes helpful WHO has chosen this year as its theme Women and Cigarette Marketing Tactics for their World No Tobacco day which falls on May 31. According to them, because the target audience -- men -- of tobacco companies is dying out rather quickly due to all the cancer they're spreading, they're now targeting women and youngsters. Apparently, women are a huge market for the many tobacco companies of the world, whose express aim is to kill the very people who buy their products. Seriously, what kind of psycho sits over there in WHO and comes up with connections like that?

However, I am going to the very filling of this pie that I am posting, the heart of the matter, so to speak. With the exception of children and teenagers, I feel people shouldn't be dissuaded from smoking. Run as many campaigns as your conscience-driven budget will allow you to educate the masses of the ills of smoking. But banning smoking is plain ridiculous. You can't force a single person to cut down on the smoking just because you ban it in public places. People will still step out for their hourly drag right in the middle of a meal if they so wish to. No ban can stop that.

My point is this: As an adult I know, realise, understand, perceive, see, internalise and accept that smoking is injurious to health. But I make the choice. Just like I make the choice to eat pizzas all weekend, just like I make the choice to jump off a bridge tied to bungee ropes, just like I make the choice to drive really fast when I am in a hurry -- all of this could kill me but I make those choices. I am a grown human being who understands the risks of smoking, unhealthy food, riding a bike without a helmet or casual sex without protection.

Every time a non-smoker says a smoker is going to kill herself or himself with cancer, I want to tell them, "Yes, I might, just might die of cancer but I definitely won't have a host of other diseases." From keeping Parkinson's at bay to preventing atopic disorders, smoking and tobacco does a lot of good. But where is the press on this? Nowhere, unfortunately. The scare of cancer due to smoking is so large that it's become a moral issue with most governments and sadly, the press toe the line. Just like the whole global warming scare, which I honestly think is a  lot of misguided paranoia.

That said, I am not advocating smoking, especially to the young. I am defending those of us who smoke. I am defending the right to freedom. When you go on about how my freedom ends where your nose begins (or something like that) I have the right to say it back to  you. That it's a free-ish world, and I'll smoke if I want to. Just like my smoke is offensive to you, your intolerance is offensive to me.

Enough said.

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Has it really been over two weeks since I blogged? In defence of TV journalism

I cannot bear to watch Indian TV news. I will do so only because I have to. But because I am a contrary person, this post is about defending Indian TV journalism.

Being a print journalist, I have never felt the fascination for television many others I know feel. Us journalists are like that -- one or the other, almost never both. And especially since I know how easy it was to get into (I got offered a job that I interviewed for over five other TV stream journalism students) a few years ago, it holds no glamour for me.

I am also the first person to criticise megalomaniac anchors that we cultivate in India. Anchors and news presenters who love nothing more than the sound of their own voice. I've said it often enough and even did a post on it when I was really angry.

But with the Air India Express crash in Mangalore I've seen people go at TV journalists with a viciousness that's savage, if not uncalled for. It's very easy, and pleasurable, to sit back on the couch and call Arnab Goswami all sorts of deserving names. (Replace AG with the anchor you hate most and this statement still holds true, you know.) But honestly it's pretty difficult to get out there and stand against the backdrop of a crashed plane, keeping curious riffraff at bay, watching charred bodies being extricated while reporting in an undramatic and mature way. The last part almost no one manages on TV, they all look like they lost their best friend in the crash but never mind that. What's news without a little drama, eh?

I've heard at least a dozen people say, "TV handles survivors and relatives of victims with such insensitivity." Can someone elaborate? What do they want the reporter to do? As long she's not thrusting a mike in  someone's face and saying, "How do you feel" I honestly have no idea how she can be sensitive in a situation like that. In my book, doing anything but sitting there quietly and being by the side of whoever's grieving or hurt, is insensitive. But our reporter has a job to do. She cannot, even if she wants to, ignore that she has to go out there and get a story. If not for her, we would all have absolutely nothing to do but watch reruns of Friends.

Here's what I know a reporter does. It's not easy watching death and devastation. But a reporter puts that behind her or him and moves on to ask the questions that need to be asked. Most times, they also ask ridiculously asinine questions but that's because most don't know a Boeing from an Airbus or a black box from a bento. But that's okay. They're getting information, giving it to you, making complete asses of themselves while at it but doing the job that they get paid to do. It's a difficult thing, even today, for someone like me to step back and not lend a helping hand in something of a crisis situation. But if  a reporter's going to do that, then you guys sitting comfortable on your couches have nothing to bitch about.

Many times it's not comfortable to report what they're reporting, and it shows in the woefully ill-informed way they report. But they're doing it. They're going out there leaving their dogs, mums, significant others and possibly a dying plant behind for a couple of days, taking uncomfortable road journeys, braving other hacks to in order to do better coverage. So if you have more than just, "Why can't he be sensitive to the plight of the victims," to say then I suggest you tell them what kind of coverage you'd like to see.

And stop following all of them on Twitter. It's people like you who give them that swollen  head.

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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

I watch airplanes at night.

And my writing is on a freeze. Some stuff to blog about  but I've been advised to wait. Till then, here's what I've been  up to. 

1) Picking up my reading habit.

2) Enjoying the kids.

3) Practically getting no sleep.

4) Losing some weight.

5) Thinking about living on another planet.

This completely pointless post was so that you guys don't think I died.