Posts Tagged ‘Gentleman’

When a freelance writer cannot meet an Editor

4 September 2013

Three weeks ago, V. Gangadhar (in picture), the well-known Bombay satirist who created the character Trishanku, wrote a diary in Outlook* magazine, in which he lamented his inability to meet K.B. Ganapathy, the erudite editor of India’s most successful English evening newspaper, Star of Mysore, on a visit to the southern city.

Gangadhar wrote:

I was glad to have met Ronnie Mitra, an unsung hero in retirement in Mysore, but was disappointed to be given the cold shoulder by a well-known local hero, K.B. Ganapathy, founder-publisher of the tabloid Star of Mysore.

I’m always keen to meet fellow journalists to talk shop, and things have been happening in Karnataka. So I seek an appointment at his impressive office and get it for 11 am the next day after assuring him it’s just a courtesy call.

The next day I reach his office and end up waiting for 45 minutes. When I call him, he says, “I’m on the other side of town and can’t say when I’ll return. But why do you want to meet me anyway?” I explain again that I’m on a visit to the city and want to talk journalism. The lack of responsiveness is quite surprising and I have nothing to do but return home.

Indian editors, I have found, are not all that keen to meet fellow journalists. The editor-in-chief of a south Indian daily for which I’d been a columnist for over 20 years has never met me even once. He’s always busy in meetings.

In my 50 years in the profession, I’ve learnt that editors, very visible now on TV news channels, do not seem to have time for fellow journalists­—especially if they are freelancers or columnists.

***

Ganapathy has now responded to Gangadhar in his column Abracadabra, invoking his co-townsman R.K. Narayan and Gentleman magazine:

I was in Melbourne, Australia, when my son Vikram Muthanna, holding fort in my absence at office, called me to inform that a popular columnist V. Gangadhar had written a ‘Mysore Diary’ in Outlook magazine where my name was mentioned and wanted to know the background.

Already into my eleventh day at Down Under, I was unable to recall the failed encounter with Gangadhar. My son would not budge and read out the relevant part from that piece.

Lo and behold, my memory was revived. V. Gangadhar. The man who had identified himself merely as a freelance journalist and wanted to see me for no specific reason.

As it happened, I was too busy those few days but in deference to the professional bond, I gave him the 11 ‘O’ clock appointment the following day, and noted it in my desk diary, not trusting my memory. Didn’t someone say, “The palest ink is better than the best memory”? Yet, one has to look at the diary if it were to serve the purpose!

Unfortunately, I was away from city early morning and could not make it to office before 11 ‘O’ clock. It was then that a telephone call came from Gangadhar. Hell, I cursed myself but could not shrink the distance to reach the office to make the meeting happen. The meeting did not happen. So be it.

It was only when my son reminded me about Gangadhar’s ‘Mysore Diary’ as a reference, I, remembered the man —the ‘freelance journalist’ whom I have read in Outlook magazine where he writes his column ‘Secret diary,’ a satire in these days where this form of writing is as rare as hen’s teeth.

Be that as it may, I would now be alert when and if this ‘freelance journalist’ lands in Mysore next time and calls me. Love to break-bread with him and wash it down with whatever liquid he likes best!

This also reminds me of R.K. Narayan, the well-known Indian novelist writing in english. He was fond of me and would ask me occasionally, probably when he was bored, to visit him in his Yadavagiri house and I would happily go. Once I was with him in the upstairs hall, talking about his life in Rajya Sabha and Indira Gandhi over a cup of coffee with strong aroma that would make one’s nostrils flap.

The gardener below came up and said that one person had come to see R.K. Narayan.

“Ask him the purpose of his visit.”

The gardener went down and returned with a visiting card. Narayan saw the card and mumbled in Tamil, “Why do these people come without appointment and at odd times. Tell him I cannot see him.”

The gardener went down again and came back to say he had come from Bangalore and would take just 10 minutes. Narayan once again picked up the card, looked at it and told the gardener, “Tell him I cannot see him and he has come without appointment.” That was it.

I asked who that man was. What Narayan said was a revelation of Narayan’s approach to business and principles.

An English magazine called Gentleman published from Bombay had excerpted from Narayan’s novel, ‘A Tiger for Malgudi’ without his permission, thus violating his copyright. Narayan issued the publisher a legal notice. The publication wanted to negotiate with Narayan and it was about this that person wanted to talk.

“Why didn’t you meet him then?” I asked Narayan.

“Why should I? He has not taken an appointment. Anyway, my lawyer is there,” he said in a matter- of-fact manner.

For the record, Gangadhar used to write a fortnightly column for The Hindu.

*Disclosures apply

Photographs: courtesy Outlook (top); Star of Mysore

The curious case of David Davidar & Vikram Seth

10 July 2012

David Davidar, the Gentleman magazine journalist who became the face of Indian book publishing, is back in the news with a writer, Sivasundari Bose, alleging that Davidar plagiarised from her work, The Golden Stag, for his debut novel, The House of Blue Mangoes.

Bose claims similarities between the locale (south eastern tip of India), the time (the turn of 20th century), the sentences etc to make her claim.

Nilajana S. Roy, the Business Standard‘s literary critic, draws from her own example in journalism to show why Bose’s charges ring hollow.

“Some years ago, I took Vikram Seth out to lunch. We went to Dakshin, the signature South Indian restaurant at the Marriott; I switched my tape recorder on and ate very fancy appam-stew. The interview ran in Business Standard.

“A few days after it came out, I received an angry email from a man who accused me of plagiarism. Rahul Jacob at the Financial Times had also taken Vikram Seth out to lunch the month before. My accuser claimed that I had never actually had lunch with Seth; I had stolen Jacob’s experience for the column.

“The problem was that Vikram Seth behaves the same way when he’s taken out to lunch. He will duck under highly polished tables to see if they’re polished on the underside. And his opinions on writing and books in my interview and Jacob’s interview were presumably similar, though there were no direct quotes in common.

“I knew my accuser was misguided, and yet, the accusations were surprisingly hurtful. I hadn’t read Jacob’s Lunch with the FT before writing my own column. But still, I wondered whether I had managed to rip off his style in an act of psychic theft.

“When I did read both “Lunches” side by side, I finally understood my accuser. Jacob and I had taken the same man out to lunch and had come up with different experiences — but we talked about the dishes Mr Seth ordered, his enjoyment of the meal. Plagiarism was built into the grid.”

Photograph: courtesy The Globe & Mail, Toronto

Read the full column: When it’s not stealing

***

Also read: Bombay Times, Hindustan Times and plagiarism

How should publications deal with plagiarists?

‘Plagiarists speed up spread of knowledge’

If imitation is the best form of flattery…

The award for the best opening paragraph goes to…

Since flattery is best expressed through imitation—II

Everybody’s is changing the game these days

Penguin sacks ex-Gentleman, David Davidar

12 June 2010

David Davidar, the former magazine journalist who rose to become publisher of such stellar Indian literary names as Arundhati Roy, Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, Khushwant Singh and Shobha De, has been sacked from Penguin Canada following charges of sexual harassment.

Davidar, 52, part of the team at the now defunct monthly, Gentleman launched by Minhaz Merchant, has been “asked to leave” the firm after a former rights and contracts director at the company, Lisa Rundle,  “brought an action” against him, Penguin Canada said in Toronto on Friday.

The new statement was in marked contrast to an earlier release on June 8 that suggested Davidar had left the company on his own to return to India to pursue his writing projects and other endeavours. Davidar is the author of two novels, The House of Blue Mangoes and The Emperor of Solitudes.

“I just felt I wanted to see if I could do something other than managing a company,” Davidar, had said in a boiler-plate exit interview. He said he and his wife were planning to return to India to live.

In a new interview, Davidar confirms he had a “friendship with my colleague” that went on for three years but says he is “dismayed Penguin Canada chose to respond to the charges by directing me to leave Penguin”:

“Earlier this week it was announced that I would be leaving Penguin Canada.  At Penguin’s request, I agreed to publicly state that my departure was voluntary.  The truth is that a former colleague accused me of sexual harassment and Penguin terminated my employment.”

Saturday’s Globe and Mail has further details of the scale of the alleged harassment as detailed by Lisa Rundle in her complaint before the Ontario superior court of justice on June 9. It suggests that Rundle was sexually harassed repeatedly over three years culminating in “outright assault” at the Frankfurt book fair last fall.

The accusations are accompanied by quotations from several e-mail messages Davidar allegedly sent to Rundle, whom he described as “utterly gorgeous,” “a vision in pink sipping a champagne cocktail.”

The court statement says:

“At the Frankfurt book fair last October Davidar appeared at Rundle’s hotel room door, ‘wearing excessive cologne, with buttons on his shirt undone down his waist’.

“Lisa stood in her hotel room into which Davidar had bullied his way, with her arms crossed, still near the door, and asked what he needed to discuss. He told her to relax and just let him come in. She refused and said she wanted to go to sleep.

“Rundle claims she climbed on a windowsill to avoid her boss and again asked him to leave. ‘He forcibly pulled her off the ledge and grabbed her by the wrists, forcing his tongue into her mouth’.”

David Davidar, who launched the Indian imprint of Penguin for the Anand Bazaar Patrika (ABP) group, moved to Canada in 2003 as head of Penguin Canada. August 15 is to be his last day at work.

Photograph: courtesy The Globe and Mail, Toronto

***
Read more here:

Toronto Globe & Mail: Davidar forced out

The Star: Davidar was forced to leave Penguin

The National Post: Davidar was asked to leave

Straight.com: Sexual lawsuit filed

Akhand of Swot: David Davidar‘s exit

M.G. Moinuddin: A self-taught genius is dead

21 July 2008

sans serif records with regret the passing away of M.G. Moinuddin, the compositor who rose to become one of India’s top newspaper designers, in Bombay on Monday, 21 July 2008.

The Hyderabad-born Moinuddin was a self-taught man who counted a chance encounter with Aurobind Patel, the chief design consultant of India Today who went on to design The Economist, as the turning point in his career.

It pulled him away from advertising into journalism.

Moinuddin then went on to design such publications as Debonair, The Sunday Observer, The Independent, and and The Pioneer for Vinod Mehta; and the The Sunday Times of India, The Illustrated Weekly of India and The New Indian Express, among other publications.

Moinuddin was deaf in both ears and editors had to pass written instructions. But he didn’t let that small handicap cloud his vision. When not at the drawing board, Moinuddin would be devouring Albert Camus and other literary heavies on the side. 

Also read: The man of typography

Vinod Mehta on M.G. Moinuddin

Arun Katiyar on M.G. Moinuddin

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