I used to sit on the 21st floor. Now I am retired

Friday, June 02, 2006

How not to write an obituary?*

So, a person dies under unfortunate circumstances. He was not known much, so a ready-made obituary is not available. So, the news editor calls up five people who are in office and asks them to find out factoids which can be strung together quickly. The factoids have been strung together here (which means you have to read it before the following makes sense).

In fifteen minutes, the boys (in the figurative sense, as there's a woman known Sheela in there) show up.

Cheeku starts, "His known weakness was for good food, which made him overweight and diabetic..."
"That was the way he flourished in Mahajan's inner circle" said the editor.
"So, you are saying that in his small way he looked at the world of politics defiantly and differently", said Meeku, trying to synthesise.

Motu pointed to Maitra's penthouse in Surya Apartment at the tony Breach Candy area, through the window.
"Although media reports say he was not married, he cast a firm veil of secrecy over his life. This allowed him to be right behind his boss, extending a napkin if he sweated, and be seen running behind him with a water bottle."
"Let's just write that he was a fixer and knew before hand what his boss would ask for" said Meeku, again trying to synthesise.
"Let's write both," said the editor. "By the way, did he know something, most possibly about Pramod's investments, that made the plotter of his deadly tragedy uncomfortable?"
"Well, I don't know about that, but reportedly, he always delighted reporters with jokes on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi."

"If the forensic report establishes that Maitra's death was not because of food poisoning or because of a lethal combination of champagne and cocaine as is currently suspected, then the most important question to ask, and answer, would be, would someone try to eliminate him?" was the next question asked by Shaitan Lomri. It was too long-winded so the reporters moved on without even trying to answer.
The editor made a mental note to write that down as a question in the article.

"Didn't he claim that he was a journalist before he joined the BJP?", asked the editor again.
"Yes, he wanted to write a column for rediff.com on how to empower Indian youth. Maitra took to running an amateur magazine for youngsters" said Cheeku.
"So, you are saying yes. Well, write that also."
"No, I don't believe that he wanted to be a journalist. All his views were original." said Meeku.
"You want more proof. His e-mail was bibek.maitra@gmail.com (which will be defunct from today). He always asked his friends to forward him e-mails. What more can be more proof than this for someone who wants to be a journalist?", responded Cheeku with a conclusive air to himself.

"What about his personal life? We need something nice and evocative" asked the editor.
"Well, he loved taking his young friends to the Zodiac Grill, the expensive restaurant at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai...It is a matter of time when any other unknown weaknesses emerge." said Shaitan Lomri.
"Yes, evocative enough. Write that."

"Hey guys, isn't this too evocative also? Need some dumb and totally inane unconnected statements. Why don't we play the farthest away game**. Meeku, you start" said the editor.
"The New Delhi police has released three telephone numbers from where Moitra received calls just before his death on his mobile phone (9811068282)" ventured Meeku.
"His wit apart, he was quite brash and ruthless when he commented on Mahajan's critics in politics" said Cheeku
"Current BJP president Rajnath Singh was an interim arrangement" said Cheeku
"Bibek Biman Maitra, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Pramod Mahajan's secretary, is dead" said Shaitan, thus losing the game.

The editor looked displeased that only four random sentences were generated. However, he said that he can come up with others himself.
"In the end, what was his name again?"
"Well, Maitra wanted everyone to pronouce his name as Bibek, but journalists never learnt and stuck to Vivek" said Sheela (who was quiet till now), bringing the meeting to an end.

* I am assuming that an article capturing a man's achievements after his death can be broadly categorised as an obituary.
** The objective of the game is to speak totally unrelated sentences one after the other in double quick time. You can't repeat themes, proper nouns etc.

Update: More on the same (1) and (2) by two Bongs.


Blogger Kaps said...

It has not even been proved that cocaine was involved, but CNN-IBN is running elaborate stories on how cocaine and other such drugs are easily available in some of the Indian metros. it looks as if they had all this footage ready in anticipation of such an event.

Friday, June 02, 2006 8:36:00 AM

Anonymous BongoP'o'ndit said...

Priceless ! Reminds me of the cow essay.

Friday, June 02, 2006 9:01:00 AM

Blogger Falstaff said...

Wow! You're sure that's the obituary? Not the script for the next Ram Gopal Verma film?

Friday, June 02, 2006 10:18:00 AM

Anonymous Azy said...

what the f* is up with the totally random dissemination of his mobile no. and email id (with the cryptic addition: which will be defunct from today)?!
Do they think anyone will try to call up a dead person for the kicks of it? Or are they trying to give some bored people the idea?
Have they just picked it out from his latest resume to fill up their pointless obligation of an article?

Friday, June 02, 2006 11:18:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity: does google/yahoo etc. delete your account if someone informs them of your death (er..)?? ("defunct..." etc)
Or does someone know his password or something...

Or did he give it out in his last will and testament with the express wish for the executer (?!) to deactivate all his accounts or something? I can see that working for Orkut...

Friday, June 02, 2006 11:22:00 AM

Blogger Sandesh said...

Very bad piece of writing by Sheela Bhatt. The first line itself gave away the standard of the piece..."Maitra won Mahajan -- blah blah..."

And the part about his email becoming defunct was damn funny.I was breaking my head thinking how google would know that a secy of a former minister died in India and then disable his email id!!!
I guess Sheela Bhatt would have asked S.Lomri to send a test mail to bibek.maitra@gmail.com and see if it bounced back.

It sure does look like some school students are getting part-time jobs now !!!

Friday, June 02, 2006 1:40:00 PM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Kaps, yes. Does seem like the news channels have ready to use footage of the big bad India (with allusions to youth, western culture and BPO industry!) which they can fish out whenever they want.

Bongopondit, thanks for the link.

Falstaff, just heard from Bhatt. Deepak Tijori (not RGV) has expressed interest.

Azy, earlier there were numbers of people who called the poor guy before he died. Now at least they have removed one of the numbers.

Anon, must be a rediffmail policy.

Friday, June 02, 2006 9:50:00 PM

Blogger Bombay Addict said...

hilarious !..ok, ok laughing at an obit is not done..but kya karu ? control nahin hota !

Friday, June 02, 2006 10:24:00 PM

Blogger Happy-Go-Lucky said...

All I can say is good that he died or else he would have had to read this and then he would have died anyway (and his e-mail ID would have become defunct!)

Dhoomk2, how about this for a business idea, when others are promising GBs of space, our USP will be e-mail accounts which will remain un-defunct(?) even after death.

Saturday, June 03, 2006 12:40:00 AM

Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

Such a refreshing obituary, and you guys are carping at it. Tcha.

Maybe we are all too used to the 'he was such a great man it is unfair on mankind to have him taken from us though we all know he would gladly steal a bun from a starving child' kind of obits.

This one is at least redeemed by humour, intentional or otherwise.

Saturday, June 03, 2006 3:14:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check out the comments...
If the article made you bang your head against a wall...the comments section will make you stop..realise that the death will be slow this way...and that you rather jump out of the nearest window...

Saturday, June 03, 2006 4:15:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry about my earlier comment.. I meant the comments on the rediff site... :-) Apologies...

Saturday, June 03, 2006 4:18:00 AM

Blogger dhoomketu said...

Bombay Addict, I had similar problems. I empathise!

Happy go lucky, let's patent it.

Marauder's Map, I agree with you in a way, but somehow I wouldn't do this to a dead man.

Anon, thanks for the link. I loved the "is the author an administrator for Gmail?" comment!

Saturday, June 03, 2006 8:56:00 AM

Blogger silbil said...

this was hilarious...
look forward to reading more posts on your blog

Sunday, June 04, 2006 10:16:00 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He loved taking his young friends to the Zodiac Grill, the expensive restaurant at the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai."

what does that indicate? this is a very bad taste to say anything so bad about someone dead!

Monday, June 05, 2006 8:12:00 AM


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