Sunday, August 01, 2010

Page 3


The evening reeks of vodka and beer, sweat and cigarettes and some expensive Chanel or Davidoff 'fragrance' just like any other. The dj-who has been constantly reminding me of Gabriel Batistuta for the last ten minutes, is playing his assorted quota of shit trance music and disco numbers just like any other night. A gang of three girls, who are my age but look like teenagers, are casting him lustful glances like a pack of hungry wolves eyeing a piece of dead meat. 

Malini Arora who has made her entrance about 20 minutes ago has been doing the same. But then she has a more sophisticated way of leching at a guy.
The last time I met her at a similar night-club she spent the entire night downing bloody marys and flirting with the handsome bartender. Although nobody could really tell whether it was Malini 'flirting' or Malini in the mood for some serious boozing. I could. I have had way too many run-ins with her.
At 45 and after 3 divorces Malini Arora,the top-boss woman of the most established modelling agency in the city, has settled into the stage of frequent one-night-stands with younger attractive men.

My editor almost sighs with frustration every time I talk about her.
'If only we could write about what a slut she is...' he would grimace.
We can't. So we make do with pictures-of her dancing provocatively or drinking without a care.
Speaking of pictures..where the hell is my photographer Ravi?
Oh there he is at the other end of the dance floor chatting up a woman in a backless short red dress.

He adores these parties. In fact everybody does-right from the bitches sitting beside me at the counter discussing Batistuta-lookalike to the wannabe models over there who are always among the most scantily-clad in this crowd to the couple of guys on the dance floor who are switching partners all too frequently to that gay moron who could put Bobby Darling to shame but passes off as a connoisseur of high-end couture.

Everybody except me.

I sit at the counter with a Red Bull can in my hand throughout the evening and watch over the crowd like a hawk. Nobody forces me to get drinking if they see that I already am. Although this is some shabby energy drink we're talking about. I've been and always will be a teetotaler. Sometimes I indulge in a cranberry lime pitcher drink or smoothies for variety.

'Oh my...if it isn't the ambitious newswoman..' somebody almost coos from behind.
I turn around slowly still seated on my bar stool.

'Hey Malini...' I offer my usual nonchalant greeting, the plastic smile on my face intact.
I get down from my perch and let her kiss me on both cheeks. I do the same, cringing internally.
'Technically I report gossip..not I hardly qualify as a newswoman.' I say laughing.

'Tch tch you are as touchy as ever aren't you?..come on woman enjoy the party. Have fun. Go find a man and dance away the night.' she suggests.

'Yea and miss out on all the fun you'll be having with Batistuta tonight?'- I think.
Outwardly I reply-'I am a picky one. Nobody suits my standards here.'
Her smile disappears for the tiniest fraction of a second but she recovers fast.
'Then I suppose you're bound to hunt for gossip for the rest of your life. Shame.' she says sweetly.
It doesn't even sting anymore. I laugh alongside.
'Okay enjoy yourself I gotta go catch up with the rest' she says and moves away into the shuffling crowd.
I stand rooted to the spot for a few minutes pondering over whether to go fetch Ravi or move amidst the crowd doing my 'job'.

Ever since I became aware of my own existence and surroundings, I had always dreamt of being a journalist. I recall imagining myself seated at a cluttered desk working on my laptop writing a 'supposedly' thought-provoking news article or report...with a satisfied expression on my face. My writing will gain popularity with time and some day I'll be able to get my own column. It was just like one of those colorful dreams people my age seem to nurture.

Little did I realize that despite my top grades and a degree from the most reputed university I would have to delve into the murky world of celebrities and page 3 parties and concoct stories about their personal lives for a living.

Yes I'm a gossip columnist working for the best-selling daily of this city. I was never meant to report news. I was destined to 'create' it rather.

I move around aimlessly as if in a trance my eyes scouring the entire hall in search of my lost and most probably 'intoxicated' photographer. But I just can't spot him anymore amidst this madness, this frenzied bout of dancing and meaningless merry-making. There's not enough space, not enough air to breathe right now.
They say these parties offer you a gateway into another world, a fantasy-land where you'll only come across handsome princes and beautiful dames. A place where anything is possible.
You might catch the eye of a rich playboy and ensure yourself several months' worth of free Ferrari rides, elite club memberships and spa holidays in Bangkok. You might suddenly bump into a balding, middle-aged man with zero aesthetic sense or creative ideas but with enough cash to be the owner of a corporation producing saas-bahu soaps or family dramas in other words. Your lucky day. You get your chance to hand him your photo-shoot pictures you've been carrying around with you for months in the hopes of becoming an 'actor'. If you are thin enough to remind someone of a cheese stick, tall enough to make an average guy shy away from asking you out, and can suck up to Malini when she is dead-drunk who knows you might even bag that coveted appointment with her within the next week. If sleeping with corporate executives, political hotshots, and horny celebrities is what your career is made of, then attending such parties will expand your client-base and enhance your rates.

At times I feel I'm caught in a never-ending nightmare where I'm  forced to relive the same experiences over and over again, where I have no other way but to fit into this world of lies, deception and charades. It's not like I never considered quitting my job but then ending my stint here would mean I would have to start from scratch at some other place.

"Taubaan tera jalwaa......taubaan tera pyaar
Tera emosanal atyaachaar"

As the nasal voices of bandmaster Rangeela and Raseela resounds throughout the enormous hall, I smile for the first time in the evening.

'Batistuta has incredible timing.'

P.S: This is my entry for IndiBlogger's 'Emotional Atyachaar' contest. Please vote here if you find it worthy enough.
Side note for Non-Indian readers : 'Emotional Atyachaar' (atyachaar meaning 'torture' or 'torment' )is a very popular track from the cult hit Hindi movie Dev-D.

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Anish said...

the journalist should have asked Malini how it feels like to be a hollow exterior of a human being and completely shallow spiritually...would have wiped the smirk of her face....

a realistic and accurate portrayal of the barren-ness and vulgarity underlying the shiny wrapper of the night life...well done...

Nethra said...

I feel that "Emotional Atyachaar" is an under statement.
Anyway, liked the narration. The one thing that caught my attention was sleeping with rich people for ones career. It's bad but have heard that that's how it is. Sigh! Where's the world heading?
By the way, all the best for the contest!

Sudeep said...

Beautifully written

Aditya said...

What a wonderful way to describe emotions. The first line and the last line are a killer! A punch right on the face! Incredible writing. I am voting for you right now.

pawan said...

I didn't participate in this contest because I don't know the meaning of "Emotional Atyachaar", but after reading your post, I think I know what it means.

Beautifully narrated, and suits my taste (remember my early highly misogynistic posts? You read them all I guess) and also you've focussed upon on a sad and sickening trend in the media. What's there to say? You've got my vote Samadrita!

All the best for the contest!

Ananya said...

Beautifully written. you've penned down the exact experiences every page 3 reporter must be going through to earn her/his living. and the feelings have been captured wonderfully. loved it :)

Selenium said...

In the end... all that came to my mind is -> "Hard Life"

But I guess, there are many many occupations now a days that have this or even higher level of Emotional Atyachaar.

Karthik said...

Nothing new, but beautifully portrayed. The time-line of the story is just a matter of few minutes, and you've painted the whole scenario of page 3 circle so authentically. Too good, Sammy! :)
Hope to read more stories. Write more please. :))

The Ketchup Girl said...

night life! sigh. Sour grapes. I could do anything to be either the journalist or malini. eitherways, nice :)

♫ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ♫ ayu ♫ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ♫ said...

aww..i had dreamt of becoming a journalist as well..but if i am that person..that's so unfortunate! being a gossip girl is not what she dreams to be~ >.< sad sad..

Samadrita said...

@Anish: LOL she couldn't have. Her job would've been in trouble if she had spoken her mind.

@Nethra: Yea that's one of the facets of corporate reality. But I was actually referring to high-class prostitutes in this post. I just participated in the contest for I realized the theme of this fiction comes under 'emotional atyachaar'. :)

@Sudeep: I thought this wasn't going to sound beautiful for the use of a few cuss words. But your words make me feel good nonetheless. :)

@Aditya: Thank you so much. Good to see you on my blog after so long. Hope you get back to blogging yourself.

@Pawan: Um did the protagonist sound like a misogynist? I hope not. For she is a woman. :P
Thanks for voting.

Samadrita said...

@Ananya: I donno whether all reporters feel the same way but this one sure did. The one in my imagination. :)
Glad you liked the narration.

@Selenium: I heartily agree. Lotsa professions inflict emotional torture on the people pursuing them.

@Karthik: Will write more I promise. Just in the hope of getting your valuable criticism and comments. You're always honest with your opinions. :)

@The Ketchup Girl: Hahaha why don't you go with your hubby some time? C'mon don't sound like a grandma. :)

@ayu: Yea you can say it's almost like being a 'gossip girl' or rather a girl collecting gossipy stories.

Jayanta Deka said...

Wow! Like the way the main moto "emotional attyachar" has be twinged with the story of a Page3 reporter. The kahani is not new or not a breaking news, but the way it is written, I loved it!

Cheers Life,

Nalini Hebbar said...

A wonderful description of the games people are forced to play to get ahead of others or just to be in the race.
very well written...very different from the confessions of broken tortured hearts of forsaken lovers.

Quintessence Of Illusion said...

this one reminded me of Madhur Bhandarkars page 3....deep dark world,with deep dark secrets...this one was really are a virtuoso when it comes to writing short stories

wisewit said...

Definitely well written. Not the kind of thing I would write, though. It's too real. My stories are realistic in their own way, but usually I'm writing because I want less of the reality I'm in.

Oh, and by the way, I'm still around, but don't expect to see much activity on my blogs for a little longer yet.


Samadrita said...

@Jayanta Deka: Actually I was writing this story about a page 3 reporter in the beginning but then I realized it goes with the theme of 'emotional atyachaar'. So decided to participate. :) Glad you liked it.

@Nalini: Thank you for the appreciation. Yes this is a different from the entries about love problems and betrayal.

@Writu: Wow that's a bit too much. Just an amateur here trying to write well. I hope someday I can write well for real. :)

@wisewit: I'm sorry for not explaining what emotional atyachaar means earlier. Completely forgot about the Non-Indian readers.
Glad you liked the story.

Ashes_of_roses said...

So true!! such wannabes! very articulate, this piece very well expresses the disdain of the journo!!:)

wisewit said...

Yeah, I'm not up on all your Indian terms, but, whatever you call it, you have a flair for that kind of thing. If I tried writing that kind of story, though, I think I'd end up with clinical depression! :)

Oh, well, different people are good at different kinds of things I guess.


AJai said...

I have a friend who works with the express in Chennai and she keeps complaining about the same things. And we jokers we always want to get in to these parties.

But really... i guess it was 'emosional atyachaar' for you. ;)

Purba said...

Your observations are very well etched and your narrative smooth.

Very well written.

Samadrita said...

@Ashes_of_roses: Thank you. Glad you felt that way.

@wisewit: Atleast I have a flair for something. :P
Writing stories with a predominantly sad theme can get anyone depressed! :(

@AJai: 'Emotional atyachar' for the protagonist rather. :)

@Purba: Thanks. :)

Rajendra Raikwar said...

great efforts

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