UPDATE: I got myself a blog. And the content of this page has been copied there. You can leave comments!
This page is about the Times of India. And the love I have for them. Or don't. You see, the Times of India was once my favorite newspaper in the whole wide world. Seriously. Then they changed. A lot. The love is gone now. And I grieve for it.
A few days ago, it occured to me that they should be told about this. Maybe that will make them change. Maybe they will become nice and lovable again. Maybe they can make me want to take them back.
So I decided to start a dialog. I thought I would tell them what was wrong. I would tell them how black the blackness was that they seemed to want to live in. And coax them towards the light. So I decided to write them a mail a day. Well, almost. What I have written so far is below. Some day I may hear from them. Some day this might become a real dialog. I'll post that, too. Till then, I hope, and I grieve.
Read the first mail, that one is important. It sets the ground for the rest. If you sort of agree with me, you will also probably agree with this.
Where it all started. This sets the ground for the conversation I am trying to have with them.
December 10, 2003. A summary of their front page.
December 11, 2003. A summary of their front page.
December 13, 2003. A summary of their front page.
This page has not been added to for a while. I became lazy, and I thought no one was reading. A lot has been said about the beauty of an artist toiling away in loneliness in the middle of the forest, but you know what, I have a strong feeling that artist would have much rather preferred to do his stuff right in the middle of the town-square. Or something. So anyway, I figured that the folks at ToI were not likely to listen to my rants, and that there wasn't much reason why anyone else would care, and the novelty wore off a little too, and so I stopped. But a couple of things happened in the last few days that told me at least some people were amused and agreed with this stuff. First, I got a mail from Prof. Soumen Chakrabarti (more on him later), and then someone apparently posted the URL of this page on an Indian students' mailing list at Stanford. So, I figured, if people are amused, and touched deep in their respective hearts, then maybe this is worth something, after all. So, here we go again.
First, Prof. Soumen Chakrabarti. He is from the CSE department at IITB, and has apparently been referring to ToI as 16-ply Toilet paper on IITB newsgroups for a while (get it? T-o-I-let paper? ok, never mind). In the beginning, I agreed with this characterization whole-heartedly. But a little thought made me realize it wasn't as straightforward as it seemed at first. Now, there is no delicate way to put this, and some of you may be a little grossed out by what follows, but I think it is important that we understand this vital difference, between ToI and toilet paper.
First, the humble toilet paper. What do we want in an ideal roll of the white stuff? I want it to be soft, smooth, and, well, light. Why I should want the first two is pretty obvious; the third is to make sure it goes down the drain when you want it to. In fact, sheets of satin that you can bunch up a few yards of and still have it be small enough that it fits inside your fist, with space to spare, would be ideal.
Now let us think about a few sheets of ToI. Are they soft? Nyet. Smooth? No way. They'd give you a pretty bad rash, in fact. Will they flush easily down the toilet? Nope. And don't try this at home. Backed up toilets can be messy and traumatic. Also rashes at the wrong places.
So, the analogy fails on every count that matters. I am sorry, Prof. Chakrabarti. You will have to come up with something else.
Okay, enough of this beating about the bush. But before I give you today's mail to ToI, a big thanks to Ashwin for a Perl script that extracts the day's headlines from the ToI website. Now if only I can get all the Perl module dependencies resolved :) And after all that build-up, this mail is actually pretty lame.