They say old habits die hard. I don't quite agree. Man is like malleable putty: needs and circumstances mould him into any form in no time. And suddenly, the recent past becomes so distant that you wonder: was I really like that?
For example, till the age of 35, I was single and footloose. Then, two years ago, I embraced marriage like a long-lost friend. Suddenly, the comforts that came with marriage blurred the thrill and the uncertainties of bachelor-life. As if I had been married for years.
Then, two months ago, came a change on the work-front. Today, Sunday Spin belongs to the long-lost past; it is Sunday that I look forward to: will I get an off? Times are fun.
For seven long years, that is from the age of 30 to 37, I had a job that required me to work only three days a week. Rest of the days, I contributed very little to the society -- only to my laziness and ego. My mother, whenever she called me, would customarily enquire: "So where are you now?" I would anvariably answer, "Home." And then she would say, "Why are you always at home?" My wife, whenever she would order a piece of furniture or something that needed to be delivered, would tell the salesman: "You can send it anytime. My husband will be home."
Now I hardly see my wife, and barely talk to my mother: I work from 3 to 12 in the night, and sleep from 3 to 12 in the morning. In the remaining six hours, my vices and virtues fight for space. The vices always win. But I am not complaining. As I said: Times are fun. Every single day is an event: you look at your life as if that is going to be the lead but invisible story of the day in the paper.
Journalism is not rocket-science, but when you put together a paper every evening, it is like launching a rocket every single day. The fun part is when you've launched the rocket: when it's time for the champagne. We, however, make do with Old Monk rum, bought from a bootlegger in Guindy post-midnight. Though we do have champagne for company -- in the form of a woman whose name starts with 'ch', which should ideally be pronounced like the 'ch' in champagne and not as the 'ch' is Charminar. She had to correct people so often that she was eventually christened as Champagne. She can outdrink men, which she rarely does though, and still not get drunk. May her tribe increase.
It seems quite selfish to me that one launches a rocket and then gets back home alone and nurses a drink. The team gets stressed together, and together it must destress. So omelettes are made at two in the night for a colleague who does not eat chicken. Another colleague is sent out, at 3.30, in search of cigarettes. And till the cigarettes come, another colleague fills up water-bottles and stores them in the freezer for quick chilling. All this while, the playlist on the Windows Media Player would have barely crossed the half-way mark. The night is still young. At times, the sun wakes up even before we realise, and we know it is time to sleep -- in order to launch the rocket again the next day.
One can always stock up the bottles and the food and the packets of cigarette. But that's like a plan. The fun lies in the uncertainty of the situation: can we do it or can we not? Most ofen we do it, and that gives you a sense of success. As I told you, Times are fun.