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Tale of an Indian Journalist

Vikhar Ahmed Sayeed

By Jug Suraiya
Tranquebar Press, Chennai, 2011, pp.x+340, Rs. 495.00


I had never been much of a fan of Jug Suraiya's column in the Sunday Times of India (STOI). It seemed dull, self indul-gent, trite and even pointless at times. His sense of humour escaped me and the satire was lost on me at the time when I did read his column. What I did realize was that 'Jugular Vein', Suraiya's tartly named column, was much liked by many people. And whether I liked it or not, it became Sunday staple for millions as it radiantly beamed out the writer's fluffy worldview from its hallowed position in the TOI. Then, sometime after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Suraiya collaborated with a cartoonist from the Times of India to create a spoof on George Bush called Dubyaman. That was what I knew of Jug Suraiya till I was asked to review this book. What I had was sketchy information at best so this book came as an interesting revelation on the many layers to Suraiya's personality. His rich in-volvement in Indian journalism is a remark-able story in itself. And the book also solved the quandary of his name. I had always won-dered how someone could be named just 'Jug'. Well, it turns out, 'Jug' is the abbreviated form of Jagdish-a seemingly fuller name which helped me move on to exploring the rest of Jug's persona through this autobiographical set of connected essays which he describes as 'A Worm's-Eye View of Indian Journalism.' The story, as most stories do, starts off in the beginning after a brief first chapter foray into the day that Diana died and how Jug came to write an editorial about it-a day late. 'I never wanted to be a journalist.' That is the line with which he leads the reader into his world of journalism. Drifter par excellence, Jug wafted about here and there after a degree in literature, before he started life as a writer/ journalist at the Junior Statesman (JS). 'Here and there' included a tryst with a disastrous 'painting machine' and a brief 'bidi-patta' busi-ness. Failing to kick start his career as a busi-ness man Jug joined the JS, a bold experiment of the stately Statesman. It is these early chapters on his life as a fledgling journalist exploring the joys of writing, exploring, and reporting, while in his early twenties, are his strongest chapters. While Suraiya states how he never maintained a diary, ...

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