Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tarun Tejpal in office!

There are some literary writers which are just in the classics, and then there are others who are more 'in-the-face', here & now. One such character is the famous journalist, Tarun Tejpal of Tehelka fame.

We had the honour of hosting this man in our office on Friday. He came across as a person who is extremely radical in not just his views, but in his general approach to life. I mean, where else will you find a man with a regular middle-class background in his growing years (1980s), to have focused just on reading, bunking college, playing basketball twice a day and trying to woo a girl! Seems like this script is taken out of a movie,but that is exactly what this man did in his growing years.

At the same time, those very formative years lent itself to a man who was able to articulate himself on the national stage. He talked at length about the changing India, about his view that the Mahabharata is the greatest book ever written in the history of mankind, his view of a complex India where distortions live in harmony etc.

Obviously, the crowd was hooked on to his every word, when he talked about how he started a journalistic revolution in the form of Tehelka. But, little did all of us realise the impact that, that movement would have on his life i.e. 24 hours security, death threats, 120 of his 124 member staff quitting Tehelka,no bank loans, no funding from anywhere to keep the ship afloat etc. But to the credit of the man, he hung in there and fought his way through. His single message to us was, if he had given up Tehelka, it would have meant that people cannot voice anything in this country. But, the fact that he managed to revive Tehelka is a lesson to everyone that revolutionary systems for a good cause, irrespective of hardships, are a great thing for the country.

The man was extremely jovial, conversational and had a command over the English language (as you would come to expect from a journalist). It was particularly interesting to learn that he uses his network of the rich & famous, for the betterment of Tehelka and investigative journalism i.e. he uses the money from the rich only to expose every single bit of possible mayhem that the high & mighty could potentially be resorting to. I guess that is called courage of conviction! In his own words,' I take money from the rich, but I tell them, that I am not on their side'. For example, he exposed the corruption in the office of the BJP President in 2000 (Bangaru Laxman), but had Mr.L.K. Advani come over to one of his book launches! I guess, that is what is called managing professional expectations well!

Great session...! I also managed to eke out a complimentary copy of his first book as well, The Alchemy of Desire - with his personal autograph!

15000 kms in my car

One of the recent highlights in life is that I just finished traversing 15000 kilometers in my Swift car. Feels good to have hit that sort of a landmark, particularly since I use the car for less than 15 days in a month!

Keep going, Swift! I have enjoyed your company for the last 2 years and look forward to more memorable times driving you around magical India!

The art of keeping quiet is actually a science

I am convinced that there are enough and more nosey-parkers in the world, who are more interested in learning about what you are up to. And this is not necessarily out of concern for you, or any extra affection, as is made out to be. These are characters who are out to glean information from you, on the key happenings that have occurred or even potential events in your life that are may or may not occur, only to use that information to broadcast it to the world at large.

Perhaps, it hits hardest, when you actually want to keep something supremely confidential to yourself. Yet,in the garb of consultative advice, these nosey-parkers get all the information from you and use it to tell the exact folks in the world who need not be informed of such developments in your life. Such nosey-parkers seem to be enthralled by the idea that they were the first to inform everybody else about something that may not yet have even happened in your life.

The big learning from all this is that, one needs to exercise supreme caution while divulging information, even to folks who appear to be the 'regulars' in your life. These nosey-parkers are potentially more dangerous than professional auditors who investigate corporate governance standards or insider-trading in a public company!

At the end of it all, one needs to draw a fine line between sharing information and not letting the 'affectionate party' feel let down. After all, when the 'affectionate party', in the garb of care for you, is out to destroy you with information that should simply not go out, caution is the only thing you can exercise. I am not at all referring to any illegal stuff here, but only talking about regular professional or personal opportunities that appear to be in the offing, but are not yet a reality.

Having had such personal experience from such 'affectionate parties', I am convinced that there are tons of people out there who only want to engage in 'free marketing' for you - especially with regard to information that is not yet a reality in your life. While I am not great believer in bad omens etc, I do believe that one should be wary of such 'free marketers'. It is better to keep quiet about all happenings in your life, rather than believe people who can make a fool of you - in the garb of caring for you.

Like I studied in my Law 101, 'caveat emptor' - which means, let the buyer beware. Similarly, Life 101 has taught me, 'just be beware of free marketers/affectionate parties/reliable ones', in your life. I have begun to appreciate the value of the corporate NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) a lot more in the recent past.