Columnist Malavika Sangghvi bids farewell to readers with her last column

Dec 15, 2017, 06:00 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

And so, after 5 years and six months (or was it 6 years and five months?) of writing this page, day after day, month after month, year after year, it's time to say goodbye, gentle reader: shukriya, namaste, farewell, au revoir, and khuda hafiz

And so, after 5 years and six months (or was it 6 years and five months?) of writing this page, day after day, month after month, year after year, it's time to say goodbye, gentle reader: shukriya, namaste, farewell, au revoir, and khuda hafiz. This will be our last column in this esteemed journal that you hold in front of you.

The news that put a smile on the faces of many a Belieber in Mumbai, that Justin Bieber was coming to perform in India, was given by us in this column. Pic/AFP
The news that put a smile on the faces of many a Belieber in Mumbai, that Justin Bieber was coming to perform in India, was given by us in this column. Pic/AFP

Because, from today, for a little while, we are packing away our overstretched writing elbow, putting to rest our ever-sharpened quill, discharging our nifty laptop and retiring our insatiable uncontrollable (often maddening) curiosity about 'what, what' happened in the city and 'when, when'.

We also wrote about former Tata chairman Ratan Tata installing a Ganpati at his home during Ganeshotsav
We also wrote about former Tata chairman Ratan Tata installing a Ganpati at his home during Ganeshotsav

Also being disassembled and put away for future use is our overused texting thumb, our exhausted cellphone speed dial, our all-too-familiar interviewing voice, and the compendium of never-ending questions we carried in our heart, about people and goings-on in this crazy, unstopping, frantic city we live in and mostly love. All this is being dismantled, tied with string and bows, neatly stacked and put into storage, until further required.

That Narendra Modi would inaugurate the Reliance Hospital in Girgaon in October 2014 was also first reported by us here. Pic/AFP
That Narendra Modi would inaugurate the Reliance Hospital in Girgaon in October 2014 was also first reported by us here. Pic/AFP

And with it, we are also bidding goodbye to our tendency for never-ending, long sentences; our anal belief that we must convey every minute detail, every nugget and nuance of the story to you, as it was exactly narrated to us, regardless of how tedious or trivial (or how many sub-sentences and semi-colons it requires).

Another story we wrote about before any other scribes got wind of it was three-star Michelin chef Massimo Bottura coming to India in November this year for a pop-up
Another story we wrote about before any other scribes got wind of it was three-star Michelin chef Massimo Bottura coming to India in November this year for a pop-up

And, of course, it goes without saying, we are also dismissing, one by one, that ghostly family that every hack worth their name possesses, their family of 'sources': those hidden, secret, mysterious, anonymous men and women who were our Deep Throats, our secret whisperers, our whistle-blowers and our early alarm raisers, whose identities we will protect until our dying day and whose names will never be known.

Like Macbeth to Banquo's ghost at the dining table, we are saying, "Hence, horrible shadow! Unreal mockery, hence!" and even as they take their leave, we are packing up and putting away in a bori-bistri our prodigious compulsion to inform, announce, enlighten, report, declare and share. We are hanging up our boots.

From tomorrow, for a while, we will not need to know which bizman is buying which yacht to impress which peroxide blonde; which politician is engineering a coup in his own party; which chef is stirring a revolt against his management; which industrialist is launching a hostile takeover bid; which international designer is setting up store in Mumbai; which actress hates her bestie; which society diva has trained her eye on which billionaire, or even which celebrated, much-in-love power couple is on the verge of a split.

From tomorrow, as far as we are concerned, all of them can breathe easy, let it all hang out, unspool and unwind. It's goodbye to them all and even our old friend, the Oolong tea-serving hostess, who tinkled her little bell for more hot water. She can tinkle it to high heaven for all we care. Ourselves, we are doing the equivalent of going to lunch, taking a break, flying a kite, going fishing.

Will we miss it all? Of course we will. Five years is 1,825 days. And at 1,000 words a day for five days a week (give or take some absences) that works out to approximately 1,200,000 words that we have written on this page since we began on this journey with you. 1,200,000 words: there's more zeroes in that number than we can ever read. Time to take a break, we think.

What was it like to express such an astonishing amount of words, in such an alarmingly prolific manner? To wake up each weekday knowing that come what may, hell or high water (and they both came many a time), one would have to put word before word, sentence before sentence and come up with something that resembled a decent enough page, that you gentle readers could peruse?

Most days, it was exciting, high adrenalin and fun. But there were also days that were nail-bitingly, stomach churning-ly tough. Days when the news cycle was slow. When the sources ran dry. When the words would not come. Days when other things beckoned, the things that we all must do, want to do, have to do, or cannot avoid doing, which militated against our daily rigour of a thousand words a day. Days when a looming deadline, an anxious newsdesk, a hungry printing press and you, gentle reader, at the end of the newspaper delivery chain, were our daunting challenges.

To service that deadline, that hunger, that need, and that commitment was our daily pleasure, challenge and prayer. But of course, we could not have done it alone. Silently but unerringly, we were supported by as excellent an editorial team as one could have desired. The editor who commissioned and launched the column, and the editor with vision and verve and an understanding of the city and her leadership role in news dissemination, like few others; a desk that was committed to excellence and high standards, and colleagues who never, not even once, ever complained, even when we called them at the nth hour to request that a word be changed, a line dropped, a para cancelled.

A team that gave us the feeling that we were all in this together, and that somehow miraculously, by 8 pm each day, the words and pictures would come together, the deadline would be met, the press would run and the page would make it in time to your hand. Credit must also go to the management veterans of the newspaper industry with a deep and real knowledge of the world of publishing, who stood by us through thick and thin. But above all, thanks must be given to you, gentle reader, for your absorption and interest, your kindness and regard and your indulgence and encouragement. To you today, we doff our hat, bow our head and say au revoir. Until we meet again...

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