Big fight at the Press Club

August 21st, 2009

The Press Club of India (PCI), Delhi is one of the most democratic places on earth. Sure, as with all enterprises run by journalists, this one too tends to get mired in verbiage, fruitless mudslinging (frequently using facts that are incorrect) and name-dropping. It also runs - God know how.  And having finished their work, when journalists come here, they tend to attack the bar, leading to some piquant situations where alcohol plays a big role in the outcome.

The PCI is democratic because since its inception, it is a place where women can walk in drink or not drink, without the risk that some kind of value judgment will made on them. During the Emergency PCI was the place where newspersons would hang out asking each other how their day was.

But the daily humdrum of PCI is extremely entertaining. Once, while watching the fruitless efforts of a colleague to flag down a waiter, a British journalist commented sympathetically: “yes, I know, it is difficult to tell the waiters from the journalists”.

Last week a famous Bangladeshi singer was invited to PCI. Every Bengali who follows culture has heard of her. So it was a philistine who introduced her: “And now, Ms Lisa Mohammad will sing a song”, mispronouncing her name.

Sacrilege! But the audience bore it and after Ms Ahmad had corrected the journalist for getting her name wrong, she began singing.

The songs were beautiful enough to bring tears to the eyes of some. When the concert came to an end, she said her last song would be a piece of Rabindra Sangeet Bengalis revere: the national anthem of Bangladesh ‘Amar Sonar Bangla, Aami tomake bhalo bashi’. Everyone stood up, except four persons who were sitting in the front row. They continued to sit.

The song ended. The singer bowed low and folded her hand. Suddenly there was a loud comment in the midst of the applause. It was a term of abuse in Hindi that begins with a B.

The golden moment was broken. The singer did not know who the abuse was meant for. Others craned their necks to see who had made it. Those who were sitting got up to beat up the person who was abusing them. “Who said that” one of them asked. One journalist bounded up in front and shouted: “I said it, and I will say it again. You were sitting when the national anthem was playing. I will fix you.”

A crowd gathered as a fistfight started. The singer was paralysed and the security staff whisked her away. A sublime evening dissolved into a brawl. But then that’s journalists for you! fight at the Press Club digg:Big fight at the Press Club newsvine:Big fight at the Press Club reddit:Big fight at the Press Club Y!:Big fight at the Press Club