Usually the idea of these days that are a fascinating blend of generic and specific — Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Teacher’s Day, etc. — make me roll my eyes because it’s quite spectacular how we can spout things that actually mean nothing all because it’s a greeting-card-powered day. So when DNA decided that there’d be a Women’s Day special, the women in the editorial section decided the pages would not be the stuff of token gestures and fake whoops. Net result: today’s paper, which has driven all of us ladies and quite a few men completely batty. City, Nation, Money, Sport and 8 pages of features — with the women cracking the whip all the way.
Let’s just put it this way: being in the newsroom yesterday was… interesting.
Maybe it’s just me but in the morning-after, I have to say it was also great fun. I’m going to miss the buzz and “we’re-in-it-together” adrenaline that powers the newsroom on some days. But anyway…
The women were stellar and the men who helped us were rock stars. Some of the people who worked on today’s edition have their names and photos in the pages, but many of the people who did the heavy lifting haven’t left any trace of how hard they’ve worked. They don’t get bylines and they don’t get credit. They do, however, have people like me pestering them and in spite of this, their smiles don’t falter for a second. So when you read today’s DNA, and I truly hope you do, give a round of applause to the invisible ones — both men and women— without whom, this special edition of the newspaper would never have happened. There are too many for a comprehensive list but off the top of my head:
Colleen, who planned everything meticulously and then, while at a mehendi in another city, fired out messages to sort out things like fly sheets.
Nagesh and the merry band of designers, who were a little less merry by midnight and probably never want to hear the words “Women’s Day” again.
Kavitha, Jincy, Nagaraj and Alex who lost neither cool, wit nor good sense, despite the copy they encountered and the crises that kept popping up every other hour.
The Sunday gang of Sameer, Joanna, Krishna, Shikha, Apoorva, Geetanjali and Aditi, who probably wanted to stuff many socks into my mouth every time I hollered for printouts. Instead they beat up recalcitrant printers and produced pages.
And Bhandari-ji, who not only wore a pink shirt to show he’s with the program but also saved a few stories from crumpling and, when he didn’t have much to do, strolled around quoting Hindi adages.
Like I said, it was fun. Frazzling, but fun.
So in the special, we’ve got some amazing women: from known names like Irom Sharmila and Flavia Agnes, to those who want only their stories shared, not their names. Like The Good Indian Girl, a marital rape survivor and a woman who cheerfully redefines “merry widow”. Sex workers, girls who have had to drop out of school because they began menstruating, executives who have crashed into glass ceilings, cops, students, they’re all in our Women’s Day Special. It’s not all feelgood and neither is it all ranty or heartbreaking. It’s real. I hope you enjoy it.
At some point, I’ll put up the unedited piece I wrote on Kim Longinotto’s Salma. It went from about 800 words to 250 words, so yeah, it was a bit of a drastic cut. Ah well. Hurrah for the internet and blogs where word counts can be more liberal.
EDITED TO ADD:
The special stories are all listed here.
One of the people I forgot to mention was Manjul, who drew our masthead but more importantly, he rallied the design and illustration troops so that the pages came together to look as good as they do.