Okay, first things first... let me confess that I have not yet gone to Bahraich and I just put that in the subject line for the sake of alliteration! For people who think civilisation ceases to exist beyond Malad, let me inform you that Bahraich is a district HQ 107 kms from Lucknow and that TTK Healthcare Limited (Printing Division) designs, cartographs, prints and publishes excellent maps of the states & union territories of the country and you would be well-advised procure samples of the same.
Anyways, I am now neck-deep in dailies printed in national language, the first thing that strikes is the sheer creativity of the names. As opposed to complete predictability of The Times of India (what else can it provide except maybe, a day in the life of India?) or the complete colonialism of Deccan Herald (only Brits deserve to have newspapers with Tribune and Herald in their names), the names of most Hindi dailies are suffused with a hint of the sublime!
The most well-known of the lot is obviously Amar Ujala. But there are many more – within the purview of the ABC or without, they proclaim their intentions boldly through their mastheads! There is Dainik Agnibaan - obviously, a paper which promises slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (on a daily basis)! Or, Purvaanchal Prahari – which is so much more descriptive than their English counterpart – The Sentinel. Even a Swatantra Chetana which seems to be waking you AND your conscience from slumber every morning. And then, there is Hindmata – which makes you feel that you are committing treason if you are not subscribing to it!
First, the headlines!
While the venerable Hindustan Times announced "HDFC hikes home loan rates", Amar Ujala exclaimed "Uff! Apne makaan ka sapna mehenga!" While, HT Lucknow rued the power cuts in the city with a staid "Power cuts throw city off gear", Dainik Jagran was more voluble with a distressing "Hai re Bijli! Udyog chaupat, shaher mein hahakaar!" and then followed it up the next day with "Hadd ho gayee! 24 mein 6 ghante bijli".
Apart from these, I have also got to know what a "Laabh ke Pad" is. And I am also aware that students of the Ahmedabad-sthit Bharatiya Prabandh Sangsthan are not driven by “Mota Package nahin, Kuch kar dikhane ka Iraada”.
And then, the hobbies page is funnier than you imagine!
For example, you have Hindi translations of Blondie ("Main chintit hoon ki Daisy bilkul party pashu ban gayi hain!") and Dennis the Menace ("Dennis bete, daddy se kaho breakfast taiyyar hain!").
Or for that matter, a daily column of SMS jokes (so, now you know where those came from!) and I have to give at least one sample... "Mandir mein jap karta hoon / Masjid mein adaab karta hoon / Insaan se kahin khuda na ban jaoon / Isi liye shaitan ko SMS karke roz ek paap karta hoon". And remember, there’s one such every day of the year…
The movie ads are quite revealing of the preferences of the people... An ad for Waqt - which had Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Priyanka Chopra in its lineup - shows Rajpal Yadav! Needless to say, so does Malamaal Weekly.
Besides there is a plethora of Bhojpuri movies... The latest releases are: Suhaag (now, that’s cosmopolitan enough!), Coolie (Mithun ki pehli Bhojpuri film!), Ghunghat Uthaile Chaand Dekhle (Bhagyashree pehli baar Bhojpuri film mein!) and Dharti Kahe Pukaar Ke (Ajay Devgun ko pehli baar Bhojpuri film mein dekhiye!) and Sainya Sipahiya! Seems like the entire Bollywood is now making a beeline to be part of the Bhojpuri Brigade! And lest any of you snigger at the star power of Mithun-da and Bhagyashree, let me remind you of the now-in-shooting film called Ganga, which stars one Mr Amitabh Bachchan! So there!
The film supplements are currently agog with the descriptions of shooting for "Mumbai ka Laila, Chhapra ka Chhaila" – which happened bang on Marine Drive and how the traffic had to be stopped for a couple of hours. Given that South Bombay stops for nothing (not even a flyover outside their window!), this seems to be quite something!
So much for the time being! Watch this space!