Reporting is much like life. So many people and attitudes swim by you, sometimes affecting you, and sometimes ignoring you. And reporters have a foible. They record just about everything: the social butterflies and the snooty touch-me-nots.
Here then is a broad classification of the variety of people I have met on my beat, which covers just about every facet of reporting. Resemblance to any actual person is coincidental.
Species one: Loves to hog the limelight. Even if it means being in the limelight under the same category for several years. This variety refuses to step down and give way to others. And is unashamed about it. I give such people my thumbs down, oh so politely. When they don’t understand, it’s matter-of-fact.
Species two: This variety loves to keep in touch with people who have done them a good turn. What’s more, they expect many more favours as they go along. When they meet, it’s oh so touching. But at the back of their minds, it’s only to keep you in good humour. Because what’s at the back of this is free publicity when they need it. This species never calls you to just say ‘hi’. It’s always for a reason. And they have everything to gain.
Species three: These are perfectionists. Looks-conscious. And everything conscious. Which makes matters worse. Not only are you succumbing to their smooth overtures, but also trying to satisfy them on all counts, thinking it’s the last you have heard from them. But it’s never the case. Perfectionists rarely give up. And that frustrates you even more.
Species four: This is the hideous sort. If it likes you (personally or otherwise), it will lure you any which way – sending you flirtatious text messages and syrupy phone calls. Must guard against such a breed. Not because it’s only time-consuming, but also because there are no rewards at the end of it. After a series of getting-intimate meetings, they will suddenly give you the cold shoulder, making you feel like they have ‘used’ you. And how? Draining you of your energy and your belief in the goodness of people.
Species five: This breed prides on being the most suave and savvy about everything, even if it isn’t. What’s more, it will even deride the press for plugging people who are no achievers. What’s more, they also deride the paper that wrote about them in gung-ho terms.
Species six: Sensual and sexy. This species lives it. And why? To command more attention and time of you. And that’s for a sole goal: to get as much publicity possible. Wining and dining is their speciality. And they trip on it all the time, and spoil you rotten. Beware is the word when you describe them.
Species seven: This is an exclusive entity. Will entertain you only if you come through a well-placed person. Will treat you like royalty and even become fast friends. But give it some time and try and go back to them only to say ‘hi’, they treat you with cold disdain: don’t reply to your emails and say they are busy when you try reaching them on their cell.
Species eight: These are the society priestesses. They smile a fake smile; whisper sweet nothings and sometimes a mix of Tamil, Kannada and English words to show they are communing with your soul. But you know (and they know), they are faking it.
Species nine: They are forever sweet with you. They will never mess with you. And they make for prompt professionals. And they are preferred over the eight species profiled earlier. Atleast, they don’t fake anything. And they are matter-of-fact.
Species ten: These are smart Joneses. Once they know you like them, even if it’s only after one meeting, they write themselves a promotion: either they try and get a job reference through you or get you to part with some of the contacts that could land them a job. But otherwise, very harmless.
(Published in City Reporter, 2003)