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!

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