Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Saving a crow, Raising the bar

This happened a month before the much awaited launch of Times of India in Chennai.


Timeless In Times.

It has been a week since we walked into Times House on Chamiers Road with the mandate to bring out a liberal paper, a great paper, an editorially flawless paper. One that would be both loved and respected, by the culturally conscious citizens of Chennai.
Late one afternoon, Sooraj D. Singh walked into the office looking for Priya M Menon, the person who cares for the voiceless, who has received awards for saving scores of soulful animals.
When he told her there was a crow was dangling from a kite string on a tree outside, she refused to take him seriously. "Come on stop bothering me, I have work to do," said Priya. "I tell you, it's hanging from a tall tree," he insisted. Then she realised that Sooraj was, for once, not telling tall tales. She went out to have a look and to her horror, she saw a crow hanging from a kite string from a coconut tree beside Times House.
It was close to five in the evening. Over the next hour, she was seen striding round the office, making calls, trying to find help. Some of us went out to look at the poor creature, some of us were too insensitive to even listen to her.
"One of its wings is caught in the string. It is a pathetic sight. I don't know how long the poor crow's been dangling there. It has to be rescued,'' she kept repeating.
Finally she tracked down Daniel -- the man who gave up eating chicken after becoming an animal rescuer -- of the Blue Cross. Priya waited nervously for the rescue team to arrive but it was past five and her son would have come home from school. She had to go. She went. With her heart dangling with the crow.
When it was getting pitch dark, a four men from Blue Cross arrived at our second floor office and asked for a torch. By this time, most of us, the insensitive, were leaving office, only to feel bad at home for not caring for the crow. As we trooped in the next morning, we all wanted to know what had happened to the poor crow.
Daniel tells us: "I was asked to come to Times House and oversee the rescue operations. I had three more persons to assist me. The crow was hanging from a very tall coconut tree. One of them tried climbing the tree but gave up as it was slippery from last night's rain.
He says the owners of the house allowed them to set up a makeshift tower on the terrace. "We used a big iron pole to untangle the crow from the kite string. The pole was heavy and two had to balance it. There was a chance that the rescuers could also fall from the terrace.
"Finally, we tied a stick to the pole and managed to rescue the bird. The crow fell to the ground. It looked dead but was barely alive. The doctors at the Blue Cross attended to it all morning." Daniel ends with, "I am sure, the crow would have died if we had not rescued it that night."
That crow's heart must still be beating. Our hearts too.
We care. Love.

PS: I thought this was page one anchor for launch!

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Now and then, the soul of your story goes missing when it appears in the paper.

When the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras, IIT-M, celebrated golden jubilee in the cool comfort of the students activity centre, only a few realised that the doors have been closed, forever, to a few swifts that had made the centre its home.

In fact, a professor in charge of the nature club in the campus wrote that change in architecture of the centre could endanger the swifts, an uncommon bird, in the guindy national park. Swifts do not nest everywhere and look for places like chimneys. The student centre in the IIT-M suited them perfectly and appealed the administrators not to interfere with the architecture of the building.

When I called up her for a feedback, she said: ``For the golden jubilee celebrations, they have air conditioned the students centre. I think, the swifts have lost their home''.

Needless to say, the story of technocrats shutting the door of the swifts went untold. Till now. A few days later, a deer drowned itself into death in an open tank. Technologists sure need to think hard about clearing the forests for construction. They should go vertical or underground :)

its all happening.

It has been a while writing real stuff, the heart's feelings and desires. Journalism can be pretty difficult a profession as many of us are discovering. Demanding and painful. The three months, however, have been eventful.
First: After years, my friends think me working. Page ones! Second: Sri Lanka discovered Mendis, not Duleep's son. Third: Federer loses wimbledon, Nadal is No 1. Fourth: An Indian wins an Olympic gold. Fifth: Bolt from the blue. It is time the 9.6 sec barrier fell. Sixth : Phelps wins eight gold medals.
I sure want to write about everything but its past.

Things not happening: My wife still has no mobile. Asthmatic children. Congested traffic. My mom's mutterings. Stalin's dream. My laziness. Litter.

Stories From The Soul Town

There lies a magical land. Surrounded by the green ghats to the west, gurgling great rivers on the east, the valley with the very blue sky. A temple town of the tamils. Sitting on the dancing rock on the highland overlooking the valley, the writer procreates the lives of the people of this lesser known south west. Full of strange yet simple souls.