A Year of Friday 8PM Deadlines

I am not used to weekly deadlines. And so, the 8.00PM Friday one, which is the time by which I have to turn in my piece for this column, has become an interesting milestone that I have to abide by, and one that now affects quite significantly the way in which I spend most of my Friday afternoons and evenings.
And so, for the past one year, starting from the first piece that was published on 27 Dec, 2008, irrespective of where in the world I am, I have usually managed to send in my 600 words by around 7.00PM. And except for one week in March, when someone forgot to publish the column, each Saturday morning, unfailingly, has seen my vertical, one-column, top-to-bottom piece with my caricatured visage, appearing somewhere between pages 6 to 12 of this newspaper.
Trying to beat the deadline has led to ridiculous situations like the time I typed out a piece while being driven in a rickety cab from the hotel to the airport in Kolkata, praying that my laptop battery would not die; I had a similar prayer on my lips last week when a flight to Kolkata was delayed by 90 minutes and I had to finish my piece in exactly that much time, with just enough battery juice left and no power connector on the airplane. Looking back, I’ve realized that my travel and the pieces seem to be intricately connected; I’ve pounded my Macbook Pro first and now the Air, in Patna, Hyderabad, Kochi, Indore and Delhi as well as in Vienna, London, Zurich, Geneva, Orlando and Frankfurt. It is thanks to the marvel of the Internet that it really doesn’t matter where I am, as long as I can get connected for enough time to shoot off one email, but which also means that wherever I go, I have to carry a laptop along, which is one of the curses of today’s tech-suffused world.
So why all this today? Because, the words that you are reading right now, mark the start of my 2nd year with the Mirror. I consider myself extremely lucky and fortunate to be able to write a blog-like newspaper column. I started http://manfrommatunga.com in 1999. Then came the Matunga pieces in “Writer’s Bloc”, a series that started with the paper’s birth, but then died after 3 years. Much later, after some persistent prodding, Meenal let me have this column. It’s interesting; I am neither famous, nor a celebrity, nor a political pundit or a certified critic. And yet, here I am, thanks to her, able to expound on everything from Matunga issues to books, films, restaurants, food, technology and its social impact, my 9-year old twins and their problems, small issues with life in Mumbai, airline and travel incidents, and sometimes, just “nothing”.
It used to take a long time initially to put the 600 words together. But with one year’s practice under the belt, it has become easier with each passing week. Many friends (thanks Anand) want my writing to be more responsible and relevant; hopefully I will get there over time.
I know that today’s piece is all about I, me and myself! But I guess, I am allowed this liberty today. I’d like to thank all the people at Mumbai Mirror who’ve helped me along the way; friends and family who’ve given honest feedback and criticism; Facebook pals, who’ve not hesitated to dissect my words when required; and all you readers, who’ve always come back with interesting feedback.
Here’s looking forward to another interesting year.

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