Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The latest magazine news

(Published in Business Standard on November 30, 2013)

I bet lots of people didn’t really register the fact that the US and Iran recently agreed to dial back Iran’s nuclear programme, thus making the world a little less likely to spontaneously combust. I bet my last issue of Tehelka that that’s because they, along with their compatriots, colleagues, and most of the planets in the solar system, have spent almost two weeks entirely consumed by a burning need to know what did or did not happen in a lift in Goa in early November, and whether all parties concerned did or did not consent to what did or did not happen, and whether the situation thereafter was or was not handled in the worst possible way, leaving or not leaving everyone’s feminist credentials in shreds.

Notice how I’m being extra non-committal about that one-, four-, eight-, or fifteen-minute episode in the lift (depending on who you’re listening to)? This is because every life form known to man has already made up its mind about What Really Happened, but I’m Aquarian, so I feel duty-bound to be contrarian. Now that there are policemen involved, I say let them do their job. Also, lay off the rest of Tehelka. Acknowledge that the magazine has done some stellar work. Stop trying to get the remaining staff to quit their jobs. Just get back to scrutinising your own life and your own organisation’s anti-misogyny and anti-sexual harassment mechanisms, would you? And to Tarun Tejpal: don’t imply, though darkly muttered hints, that there is more to this story than meets the eye. If you have things to say in your defence, say them clearly, or shut up and face the music.

In any case the whole thing loses steam after a certain number of daily headlines reading ‘ARREST IMMINENT’. One can set up the public’s relish for the gallows and then dash it down only so many times before the public goes back to something more reliably titillating, like Miley Cyrus’s butt. It’s exhausting, you know? All that adrenaline, all that emotional energy, and then nothing happens, despite Times Now’s best efforts to provoke it into happening. At the time of writing arrest really does seem to be imminent (though postponed to 2.30pm), so perhaps by the time this is published events will have overtaken me and I’ll be back to following it on Twitter, which is enough to give a person hives.

Or not quite, because there’s this other thing I’m reading about a lot, namely the Aarushi-Hemraj double murder case verdict. I’m no high priestess of the law, but even I feel confident saying that any judge who thinks it’s a good idea to write stuff like “He has also admitted that Hemraj was average built but he has no knowledge as to whether his willy was turgid” and “…had come to her house on hearing boohoo” should be taken aside and given a short, focused course on how to save the reader from repetitiveness and ennui without, however, coming across as deranged. Reading the whole thing is like watching a head of state walk into a G-20 meeting wearing a jacket, tie, and boxers.

And that’s the best part of the judgement. I like to think that a higher court will re-examine what look like great big gaping holes in reasoning, to guard against a truly tragic miscarriage of justice.

I’m hoping for a lull in these two stories over the weekend. Then, finally, I will be able to get around to being attentive to the US-Iran détente and, apparently, some kind of election in Delhi.

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