Big fight at the Press Club

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August 21st, 2009 Aditi Phadnis

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!

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5 Responses to “Big fight at the Press Club”

  1. Arun Kr Shrivastav Says:

    I liked this blog very much. Press Club Delhi is the best place. There is no pretentions about it. And, that’s the beauty of the place. I happened to spend the night of 31 december one year. It was very nice. There was a huge bon fire whose flames lasted the whole night. Poeple were dancing, eating but no eve-teasing. The mileu was of celebration without any pretentions. Nor was it expensive. Press Club is for ordinary journalists not for Veer Sanghvi type.

  2. A K Narendranath Says:

    Even stray dogs are better behaved than those who visit this dingy joint!

  3. Pucca Ghati Says:

    Facts are true , unless proven to be incorrect , AP is impling that most jounalists at the club use concoctions( not only of the alcoholic kind ) as ” facts ‘; a well known fact indeed . Why should Indians stand up for the Bangladeshi National anthem , unless it was announced to be so and a request made and in any case voluntary in a third country ? The song in question is a RS , and nobody stood up when it was sung countless times before BD made it its National anthem . Why stand if you dislike BD ( most of us non-Bengalis do ) ? The B word is typically Delhi and Bengali : more loyal than the pope and pompus beyond bound .

  4. VINAY ARORA Says:

    The truth is, it’s just a place for a cheap drinking hole, and for cheap journos to misbehave. It’s definitely not a press club by any other standard,except for the menu prices & the 4 letter words, and the carrying out on a stretcher or on a limb of some (in)famous journos.

  5. Hitesh_Shah Says:

    AP wrote: “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….”

    Is a “fact that is incorrect” a “fact”?

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