“Ready to get trounced?”
“Oh! you can’t beat a midget playing TT.”
“I’ll make you eat mud!”
“I can stick the bat up my socks and still beat you.”
Over-confidence takes its toll and the loser gracefully admits in a
part-Kung-Fu-Panda-part-Balls-of-Fury Chinese accent: “Your master
Shifu taught you well, Gweilo!”
Since it hasn’t been clearly proven who is a better player (Ahem!
Also, because this is my story), we won’t get into the specifics.
Let’s just say there’s just one regular winner – Prince Frederick,
affectionately referred to as Master Shifu – who can beat even Boss
when he really sets his mind to it. And you can tell when that
happens. Prince becomes a picture of concentration, becomes
extra-competitive, a far cry from the saintly Master who throws away
matches just to encourage us.
Shonali learnt TT in school but still, even if occasionally, loses to
those of us whom she claims to have taught.
Divya “Why-do-people-think-I-am-a-boy-reading-my-byline?” Kumar who
picked up the game around the same time as me too manages to beat me
most of the time.
Hence, my favourite whipping target is Priyadarshini Paitandy, the
youngest of the lot, who until a few weeks ago hadn’t beaten any of
us. But these days, even if rarely, she manages to do to us Goliaths
what little David did. Damn! I need to go to office more often to
“Shows how much TT you guys have been playing,” as Boss observes,
after losing that rare match to Prince.
One hour ago.
The weekly Saturday Metro Plus meeting is on.
Kritika Reddy, who runs the Metro Plus Chennai Desk, has a printout
that lists out the stories we filed the previous week. It’s like that
report card Shonali would have liked to hide back in school when she
flunked yet again. (What? She never flunked? Too bad. This is my
Quiet Prince always tops the class, having filed the most number of
stories given his weekly commitments (the columns: Man and Machine,
Things People Keep, Mush Register) apart from his regular set of
stories on birds and eccentric people. Always missing from all our
social outings, this workaholic has a standard mock excuse: “A married
man has many problems”.
Understandably, Boss is always pleased with Prince, especially since
he takes on the burden of that Memories of Madras column that requires
us younglings to be familiar with achievers over the age of 65.
Divya too cheerily chips in for that column makes some of us want to
rename the supplement as Retro Plus on Wednesdays. Any event on art,
music or books, you can be pretty much sure it’s geek-loving Divya
who’s covering it. When she’s not writing, she sways randomly, sighs,
pokes people around and remains indecisive about any party plans the
girls make with her.
Shonali has her plate full with food for her weekly column The
Reluctant Gourmet, apart from the regular restaurant, book reviews and
theatre features. Let’s just say it may not be a good idea to
accompany her to over half the hangouts in the city if you don’t like
spit in your food. Notorious for her ‘fowl’ mouth, she hates birds and
believes that the only way to enjoy nature is to, well, eat it.
Paitandy giggles full-time when she’s not colour-coordinating her
wardrobe before every assignment and prepares to shop for sun-screen,
lip glosses and Fendi umbrellas even if she’s just been asked to check
whether it’s raining or not. When Miss ‘Parrys’ Hilton is not too busy
with her desk-work and learning profanity from friendly auto-drivers,
she also does trend stories and celebrity interviews, standing in for
Kritika who has been covering fashion for over a decade.
During the meetings, Shiv Kumar, who co-ordinates stories for Metro
Weekend, brainstorms for city-bred personalities we can feature on the
cover. Everyone gives a list of stories planned for the week, along
with intended deadlines and not all stories suggested make the cut
because Boss is a tough-to-please connoisseur of high art (and Fine
Wine… ok, that’s a shameless plug for his fortnightly column on
And every morning, the desk waits for the promised stories to arrive.
Now, this editing team takes on the responsibility to clean up, assign
captions and headlines to stories hurriedly sent in at the last
minute, often leading to some tense moments that ultimately require
the Boss to intervene, make peace or pull up the defaulter.
By one p.m, the page is laid out and sent for printing. The stories
are also simultaneously sent to the Internet Desk with photo options.
While the writers then breathe easy, the desk begins every post-lunch
session planning the page for the next day, laying out those few
stories that have miraculously arrived on time.
Okay, why does this seem to lack the detail associated with our
regular A Day in the Life Of… column?
The truth is, the author rarely gets to work before the team packs up
for the day. So he wouldn’t, for the love of God, know how things
It’s Saturday again. Another meeting, another brainstorming session.
And I have been asked to write this since everyone else has serious
work to do.
One hour later.
“I am gonna introduce you to a world of pain… You are going down!”
“Oh yeah? Bring it on”
“Eat this, Joker. The Bat-man’s in the house.”