roughly 15-16 years ago a bunch of us from various city colleges got together to launch a student tabloid.
the ‘leader’ was one-foot-out-of -the-closet ID.
we used to meet on the terrace lawn of a corporate building on cathedral road. we survived on the charity of a lot of people.
vds co (arvind swami‘s dad’s co then, now his) gave us the lawn. someone’s pop gave us the use of his dtp facility. some parents managed to pack in some snacks. we had a ball. we even managed to get out a couple of issues.
it was a fun, mixed (and mixed-up) group. we would meet for hours, work only during a fraction of that time… and on rainy days would get muddy and go home to a bombardment of questions regarding the grass stains on our jeans.
the funny thing about that group was, we were not out to change the world, we were not overly ambitious, we were not even focussed.
actually not so funny, explains why we closed shop so soon.
but during a time when our peers were gung-ho over cat, ca, gre, gmat, we were content sitting with ageing dtp designers, a well-thumbed oxford dictionary, and raging hormones.
we worked with paper and pen, using both sides of the sheet, even.
we called the dtp-operator ‘uncle’, bought him tea, bummed beedis/cigs off him, and sat in a poorly ventilated office with 2 computers that took turns conking, working on the ‘layout’. dtp uncle had other more lucrative businesses to pursue, but because he felt for us, and also because he was a bit lecherous, he gave us the time of the day.
ID’s (very good looking) sis and her boyfriend where also part of the group. now that was funny… to watch brother and sister vie for the attention of the same rather good looking, rather dumb fellow.
ID was torn between pretending to go after the girls in the group, and hiding the fact that he was actually after the boys.
ID was a fun guy, lost touch though.
the rest of us could only hope we were more discrete, less embarrassingly obvious about our infatuations.
however, we did spend inordinate amounts of time near the lift, in the hope of catching a glimpse of arvind swami, who was a flavour of the moment then. we never did.
when i went home last, i was clearing my cupboard and saw a couple of those issues. even after 15 years of ‘serious/mainstream’ journalism, the product seemed fresh. it was simple, funny, and obviously well-loved (by the producers). must preserve that copy. must laminate it. that kind of innocence has a very short life.
i live a short walk away from the vds building and was tempted to hop over and check out the lawn. the dtp centre on royapettah high road is now defunct. i have no contact with any of that group. serious journalism has a way of making you seem bigger than you really are, so you move away from experiences that showed you for what you were…
now, after all that time, i am working on a students’ mag. i sit in my half-way fancy office, thousands of miles away from madras, click-clacking away on my laptop, with an editorial budget, syndications,fancy printing press, an awesome designer, a bunch of pampered interns, straight men (i think), colour printers.
miss my dtp uncle. miss my ID. miss grass stains, shared cigs. miss my infatuations. miss the feeling of not really being accountable, not bothering about bottomlines (miss obsessing over a certain mr sn’s bottoms though. round, cute, perfect in his too-tight jeans).
obviously, in this post, missing my capital letters too.
the new mag should be out in a month. it will do well i am sure. there is a well-oiled marketing machinery that will make sure of that. it will do well because it has focus.
cocktail went flat soon… but i never think of it as a failure. it just lacked focus, much like the people who ran it.
cheers to dreams that don’t work! cheers to work that helps you dream!