Stories of Usandus

In olden Hollywood westerns, a constant conflict prevailed between the cowboys and the sheriffs. The cowboy challenged to start with saying – ‘I am the 51 and you’re 49.’

At the end the sheriff would win and before he would shoot, the cowboy would accept – ‘No, you are the 51 and I am 49.’

On Sunday, 10th October 2010, I spent 5 rupees to buy a Loksatta, as I was in Mumbai. On a page earlier to 10, I was inflicted by the above conflict, not exactly 51 to 49, but 60 to 40.

On two fifths of the page was a demonstration of ‘How not to write on a world famous writer, here Manohar Malgaonkar’. Rest of the page, the remaining sixty percent was of course on ‘How to Search the Direction of Your Life,’ a brilliant portrayal of the Godly philanthropists, well written in the shortest possible space. It was worth more than the full page space and more so deleting the other plodding.

‘Paisa adbhut aahe’ is a quote in the intro of the article by Sundeep Waslekar, the founder of Strategic Foresight Group (SFG), consultants to more than 50 countries. ‘Lekh adbhut aahe,’ you would whisper before you start reading the same for second time.

It would make you restless to wait for his forthcoming book, I needn’t quote.

It’s a reflex action. It’s not the contention here.

What a misfortune to read a puerile article on an internationally appreciated Indian writer in English as if written by a ten year old girl in her school magazine.

I won’t blame the writer. One has freedom of expression here. However, aren’t the usandus and sandus in Loksatta abatable? House magazines are not so indifferently composed placing any article anywhere, devoid of preliminary understanding. Looking at the recent overall appearance the newspaper is no different than a house magazine.

The writer is completely in a state of confusion as to who she is writing about; Malgaonkar or herself?

What Kaka?

What a childish poem inspired in the study of Manohar Malgaonkar?

And what selectors!

Ram Ganesh Gadkari was V. S. Khandekar’s (first Dnyanpith Award winner in Marathi) guru. V. S. Khandekar wrote poems in his early days. He sent them to Gadkari, who tore and threw them in the dustbin without a second thought. He made him read and read and study and then to start writing.

Subs and Asst. Editors of Loksatta are no Gadkaris or VSKs, I know.

The writer confesses that she had no intimacy with English to evaluate Malgaonkar’s writing. What’s left out then for a writer like her? There are a few translations available in Marathi. She could’ve possibly worked on that. Or else familiarity or appreciation of the human nature of the writer. Has the writer evaluated herself at least?

The thick and dense jungle where the tigers still roar might have laughed. Londha is a lovely place. Not a single reflection of the daredevil writer hunter who matched with environment?

If somebody is publishing such article who should be held responsible, the writer or the person who selects it?

It is recommended reading (and rereading) Ravindra Pinge before writing, if at, all such kind. What word pictures! He has about thirty books published in his name so far in Marathi. He could write so because he has spent half of his life in British Council and Mumbai University libraries reading and making notes. It was a tapashcharya.

Go. Read as many article as possible. Worship the writer as a God. And then one day you’d find, ‘Arechya, my writing is also bringing tears in my eyes, instead of having a nauseating feeling.’

And that 51/49 percent formula on the red dust won’t skid to 60/40 to make it yellowish.

Story 2

In the times when post graduate diplomas were not a rage for specialized studies, different norms were set by the employers.

To enter as a copywriter in advertising arena then, the prospective candidate, if too keen, was asked by the creative director of the ad agency whether he has worked in a newspaper. If yes, he was asked to show the news reports he wrote along with their titles, though mostly not written by him.

Attractive and catchy piece that can grip maximum readers was the criterion behind that.

In the same newspaper in another supplement an article is published under a title ‘Apsara Aali’.

The writer here is not to be blamed at all. The never would be copywriter sub-editor concerned here doesn’t even understand that he is insulting Dr. Bhabha and Pt. Nehru. He has exhibited senselessness of equating the first atomic reactor with a popular lavani dance mukhda. Detestable!

The newspaper lives on current topics. Here it might die due to this ‘current’ topic.

Story 3

In Khushwant Singh’s column in Hindustan Times on the same Sunday, he has quoted an example of ‘usandu’. Take trouble to read it what the subs in the newspapers do. It’s about a spelling mistake. You face many such lapses in tomorrow’s raddi.

It’s petty and a pity, nevertheless.

P. S. – ‘usandu’ is a short form for up-sampadakachya-dulkya popularized by ‘Amrut’, a Marathi monthly vastly popular since grandfather days. It pinpointed towards the napping sub-editors’ lapses caused due to excessive reading of illegible handwriting as a job.

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