An Attempt to Gain Sympathy Gone Wrong

Published: 06th December 2014 06:08 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th December 2014 06:08 AM   |  A+A-


CHENNAI: During a protest where a huge group of parents came out vociferously against one of the schools in city, the main ‘accused’, the top official of the school stood on a stage denying charges. As more and more people shouted, she made an attempt-gone-wrong to appeal to their sympathy by saying ‘I have been standing all morning and I did not even have my bed-coffee today’, only to be met by more boos from the crowd.

Later in the protest, one parent did the mistake of being on the side of the management. When he took up the mike as a parent representative, hell broke loose with many parents insisting he was not even a parent although he tried explaining he had three children studying in the school. As the argument got on the verge of becoming a fist fight, the man was sheltered inside an LKG classroom. All the drama unfolded while the wonderstruck kids were being escorted to toilets by ayahs, and teachers abandoned books and peered through classroom windows.

A Little Threat Pays

One of the challenges for a reporter is to get detailed information at crunch time. It was one such time when the Union Government cleared one of the major projects mooted by the State Government. This sent all beat reporters into a frantic search for details, but the bureaucrats were hard to reach. Some managed to catch hold of babus in Delhi, but could not manage to get a quote from the local officials.

Despite numerous attempts, the calls and SMSes begging and pleading for information went in vain. In the end, a frustrated but a perseverant reporter sent an SMS to one of the senior officials. The message was simple, but direct: “I am filing a story on the project which is a pet project of the government. I only want some details. If I get it wrong, you are at fault.” It only took a few minutes for an official to call and clarify the basic details — of course on condition of anonymity.

Peddling Stories

Just as there are official sources who clamp up at the remotest sight of a controversy, there are but other kind of ‘sources’, ones who seem to peddle stories rather than tipping off reporters. A privileged few would not only get the source to call us, but also go on to bombard with contacts of other ‘sources’, so much so that the reporter is even willing to consider blocking their number.

This reporter was to contact an elderly gentleman for profiling a not-so-famous person. What began as a regular work became complicated after the ‘source’ began to develop and special interest in the story. From chasing a source, this scribe’s routine transformed into evading the calls from him suggesting as to whom she should speak next for the piece. After being exasperated by the pushy, old man it dawned to the reporter: he probably wanted a biography!

Lift Manners

Getting on to the common lift at City Police Commissionerate after waiting in the queue is tougher than getting into an MTC bus or a suburban train during peak hours. And it’s more annoying when the last person who gets into the lift when it sounds the overload alarm, pretends as if nothing is wrong on his/her part and puts up a ‘busy’ face.

On one such occasion earlier this week, the Armed Reserve constable manning the lift, requested that at least one step out so that the lift can go up. However, the trio — one being the ministerial staff and the other two being his guests — did not pay any heed. Even after repeated tries, the constable manning the lift sought ‘volunteers’ to get down. Unlike in other public places, the constable manning the lift can’t do much since those who use the lift along with the public are either ministerial staff or policemen ranked above him. As the standoff continued, this scribe and another journalist stepped out so that at least the rest can use the facility.

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