In his indolent teen, the diary was fervid autograph hunter. Mohammad Azharuddin, his remembers, was his first scalp. He still cherishes that. But for professional propriety, he still would have pursued them as eagerly.
Hence, the diary was taken by pure surprise, when inadvertently, he was sought an autograph. The diary turned around, to see a sagely man with a flowing beard in Pashtuni kurta. As it turned out, Haji Zahar as he politely introduced, is a cricket photographer, and has been in this profession for nearly 50 years. He just wants the autograph of every journalist so that he can keep this as a memento. The diary greedily obliges.
Stop the Press
Flipping through the local newspapers — for such a small country with a smaller English-speaking people there are dime a dozen newspapers — isn’t exactly a pleasant exercise. It’s filled with news of protests, strikes, violence, poll rigging, water pollution, piracy, shop-gutting, so much so that you feel like shoving it in nearest dustbin (it’s hard to find one anyway).
Then the scariest of op-eds: “A pressing time for newsmen”, a rousing piece on “deaths of a number of foreign correspondents at the hands of bandits”. It presented the gory instances of non-Bangladeshi journalists being tortured and killed. The diary didn’t bother to read beyond the second paragraph, and flings it to the dustbin (hotels are the only place you find one).
PS: Going by the frequency of stories, Mamta Banerjee and Kareena Kapoor have larger than life following in the country.