It’s an irony that most journalists, who report the death of big and small alike, are unfortunately just forgotten when they themselves die. The latest example is that of OP Tripathi (OPT), former Chief Sub-Editor and Deputy News Editor of The Statesman. When an ex-colleague rang up last week to find out about his welfare, his grand-daughter disclosed that he had passed away a year-and-a-half ago and his wife in February. It was a big shock no doubt. He would have been 80 now and till the end did not allow his children to read the newspaper in the bathroom lest it got “polluted”.
Tripathi was a great entertainer at office X’mas and New Year’s Eve parties. Once, after having one too many, he just dozed off in his chair on completing afternoon duty. His wife telephoned around 10 p.m. to find out why hadn’t reached home. A senior colleague, who received the call, told Mrs Tripathi that he couldn’t talk to her as he was busy writing an editorial. Tripathi was dropped home at 3 a.m. after the night shift was over.
He was also a great favourite of the office peons, most of them Purabias from East Uttar Pradesh, who used to live on The Statesman premises and also distribute the morning paper. They called him “Guruji” and would touch his feet as one who was an obliging, paunchy Brahmin.
Except for Holi, Tripathi bathed usually with only one bucket of water as his father had warned that wasting it could lead to rebirth in a parched place like Arabia.
What started as a gloomy day on the Delhi Metro ended up in much mirth for a colleague. Running late for work on a rainy day, our colleague waited impatiently for her train when a couple of them bound for another parallel destination left her in a petulant mood. Soon another train, again not headed her way, halted on the platform. As she looked around, wondering why the train was in the station for a longer time than usual, she noticed the Metro driver step out and greet a colleague standing on the platform. As the two men chatted, our colleague was irked that because of this train, perhaps her own was getting delayed. It turned out there was a change of drivers and so the waiting man got in. The train had moved just a few metres when the person going off duty hollered at his colleague, The Metro lurched to a stop and our colleague heard the two men merely exchange good-byes!
However, that was not all. When she finally boarded train, she found the other passengers in a merry mood. The reason soon became clear when, instead of the routine announcement, a conversation was heard. It took a while to realise that the driver had inadvertently left his intercom on and his talk with his girlfriend was being relayed through the train! It came to a close when a passenger punched the intercom button and informed the driver of his goof-up!
Traversing a Red light area in any city can be a scary experience, especially for men, who are solicited at every step by call-girls and pimps. An acquaintance, an engineer with a printing press manufacturing company, narrated how he got urgent summons late at night from one of his clients, a printing press owner. The machine had seized and, since all newspaper printing work takes place at night with a deadline to meet, the owner was desperate. Reaching the press, our friend found that a bearing had broken but at that hour of the night there was no way he could replace it. However, the press manager called up a supplier, who had a shop in GB Road, the Capital’s Red light area.
Accompanying the manager to the area, the engineer was asked to wait in the car while the manager took the driver along as he dare not venture out alone in the area. Since he was strictly instructed not to get out of the car, come what may, our friend sat huddled up with doors and windows locked up. “They were gone just 20 minutes but it seemed like two hours!” recalled our friend as he spoke of the string of pimps and some girls who came knocking at the window. When he responded to one pimp, saying he was waiting for delivery of some electical goods, there was a loud guffaw: “Is raat mein kaun sa maal milega? (What ‘goods’ do you expect to get at this hour?)” It was a huge relief as the manager returned and, fortunately, the correct bearings had been bought. He certainly could not have lasted another waiting period!
Overheard: Indian politicians will now have to brush up their cricket to meet the new political regime in Pakistan.
Contributed by: R V Smith, Bhavana Lalwani and Asha Ramachandran