Being a journalist is tough. It’s fun, only when you are in a position to make life tough for others. Till that time, it’s a dog’s life, or may be horse’s. Actually, a little worse.
Let me elaborate. Every year, on Christmas, in Kolkata, the mounted police, a legacy of the British Raj, performs stunts to entertain the crowd, to prove their existence and to keep the glory days alive, even for a day. It is like a festival at the ‘maidan’ and the city folks make it a point to gather and watch these horses and their riders pull off stunts, which they have been practising for months, and later, they walk down to Park Street to watch Christmas decorations. Back in 1845, governor general Dalhousie had adopted the London Metropolitan Police model for Calcutta, which included the creation of a horse patrol. In 1916, the Calcutta Mounted Police was formed and absorbed with the regular Calcutta Police. Every day, the rider cops go out on patrol with their horses for two hours and return before dark. Technically, these horses work for two hours every day and an additional two hours every week for practising stunts. And they aren’t paid peanuts, like us journos, but are fed well with maidan grass and hay.
We, on the other hand, have an event lined up every day, and the fun part is we don’t get time to practise our ‘stunts’. We are expected to perfect them when we are not in office, especially when we are at home spending residual time with our family. Every day, we have to perform these stunts to entertain the crowd (read readers), to prove our existence (in the competitive market of selling news) and to keep the glory days alive (of journalism), even for a day. And yes, we have our riders as well. Adding salt to an injured soul, a senior journalist told me that we aren’t even intellectuals, it is just a fool’s paradise that we build for ourselves. And finally, while we work on the day after Christmas, the horses get a day off.