Tilak Rishi's weblog

Musings on writing, expression, world politics, journalism, movies, philosophy, life, humour...

My Photo

Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

My Mother's Open House

As much my father liked to be left alone with his books, my mother loved to be in the midst of family members and her friends, both big in numbers. Her circle of friends spread from the elite of the society to its weakest sections, the later being her weakness. She not only liked their company better, but also felt happy caring for them. Her greatest happiness was hosting guests, friends and relatives, some coming from other cities and overstaying for weeks to enjoy her hospitality. A true believer in the age-old saying that God visited us disguised as a guest, she kept the house always open for everyone to enjoy its hospitality.

My wife was my mother's best friend after our marriage, and a true follower of the traditions my mother believed in. Between the two of them, they had made the house look like a marriage home, where festivities and feeding never ended. There was hardly a day when God had not visited our house. Our open house always had a guest, invited or not. Some guests frankly admitted that they found peace in our house whenever they had a disturbed mind and came just to enjoy the festive atmosphere here when the going was far from good at their place. And mother reciprocated by giving such guests the special treatment that they remember all their life. On Sundays specially, it was always a full house. We had to come prepared at the breakfast table with information on our friends coming over to spend the weekend with us, as she must plan the menu for their lavish lunch. And if by any chance we did not expect any guests some Sunday, we must come to the table with planned program of full day outing on the day, a substitute for the Sunday guests. We really had a wonderful time with mother around, and we as well as our friends very much missed her absence when my brother persuaded our parents to move to his palatial house in Pathankote, where he had headquarters of his large lumber company. He thought he could afford a far more luxurious lifestyle with his large household establishment that would allow them complete rest, enjoying all the comforts of affluent life.

Eagerly wanting to spend great moments with mother, we were excited as never before, to take the train to Pathankote on the very first day of the summer vacations. Our happiness to see the parents in my brother's great mansion with so many servants on their beck and call, did not last long. They, especially mother, missed the hustle bustle of life in Delhi, where in her open house the guests were welcome anytime of the day, all days. The joy of hosting her friends, our friends, and relations from far and near, was now a far cry. The frequent knocks of the friendly neighbors, the sound as beautiful as of the bells at the temple entrance, was not to be heard here. It was too lonely for the liveliest person on the planet. She could hardly hold back tears that kept pouring from her eyes, when she pleaded for taking her back to Delhi. But that could not be. There was no way we could convince, even talk to, my elder brother on the subject. That would amount to undermining his true intentions to insure the most comfortable life he could provide to parents compared to what they were having at our place. Having spent splendid vacation with her, we were heart broken to hear her parting words, “I'll see you soon in Delhi. I don't want to die here, so far away from you.” And she was so true to her words; she did not die there.

Within a few months, mother did come back to Delhi, though not destined to live in her open house. She was driven direct to hospital in serious condition. During her last days when doctors had given up on her cancer, mother continued to have her high spirits intact. She asked me to bring packets of the finest sweets, and gave them to doctors, nurses and the hospital staff, as a parting gift from a grateful patient, whom they had taken care of so well. They had tears in their eyes, but smiled all the same, as they had never seen anyone celebrating life so beautifully till the end. Before she breathed her last, she kept holding my wife's hand and spoke the last words, “I may not come back home with you, but promise you will continue to keep the house always open for everyone to enjoy its hospitality.”

Saturday, May 02, 2009

"Will You Marry Me?"

Here is a great news no blogger can ignore. Some newspapers have approached Amitabh Bachchan for permission to print his blogposts on regular basis in return for compensation yet to be considered by him. Here is how he put the proposal on his blogpost (Day 372, April 39, 2009): “There has been talk among certain media of wanting to carry my blog in their paper. That I come to an understanding with them that I allow them to publish it exclusively. The deal being that the blog shall, as a result of the vast circulation of the paper, give me and my posts a larger reach to the people of the country. ...It is flattering to learn that an acknowledgement of independent internet, a medium I believe to be a most powerful one in the days and years to come, to be causing interest or discomfort to the traditional media.”

As old media races to catch up with the Web and figure out how to successfully monetize print content online, some newspapers are taking a drastically different approach: web to print. In cities across the US and some European countries, they are aggregating popular blog posts, specially by celebrities, to be printed prominently in newspapers to attract more advertisements. The hope is that the hype content will attract more advertisers who can reach out to their increased target audience. The papers have already lined up a number of fashion-based businesses for its debut. Some bloggers — without betraying a hint of irony — have denied the papers of the right to republish their posts, but the overall response has been positive. What blogger or photographer would turn down an offer for more exposure, especially in the confines of a luxurious printed page?

“We’re not necessarily looking for the people who have a readership, we’re looking for compelling content in a variety of areas,” said an editor of a prominent paper.“The person who’s a celebrity, an industry expert, the person who worked for a campaign and is blogging about it, the person who has some insight into our financial system.” He admits the printed blog is an experiment for now, but he is optimistic in its success and with the low production costs it isn’t much of a risk. With old media struggling to stay afloat, any experimentation with new business models is better than doing nothing. Newspapers need to be more forward thinking by incorporating bloggers / citizen reporters into the mix. With staffs getting cut you need to get fresh content somewhere!

While some experts are predicting that archaic forms of media, like newspapers, magazines and other print publications will fade away; the papers printing blogs are confident that new and old media will be able to collide and reach a greater number of people. There has been some interesting discussion recently about the fate of print media. While no one can say for sure that newspapers and print media will die, one inarguable point is that they are definitely bleeding. Is there a way to stop the bleeding? This is an issue we're going to continue to watch closely. It's always difficult to say goodbye to products, but it is important that we focus on products that can benefit the most people and solve the most important problems.

According to a study conducted by a media research analysis firm, the printing of blogs in national magazine and newspaper publication has increased more than 16-fold over the last five years. This stunning growth in blogger influence magnifies the importance of employing common sense when contacting bloggers. Knowing the blogger and his/her focus is the critical element in a successful blog relations campaign. While many blogs are highly visible in their own right, the growing influence with the mainstream media elevates their importance.

The newspaper business is dying. Revenues were down even when economic times were stable. Advertisers have moved on to TV, Radio, and the internet to find their audiences. Even established paper are gasping, and their survival is uncertain. Many people put down the papers and turned to the internet to voice their opinions on the sorry state of the print media; and perhaps, more importantly, to find prose worth reading. To a large extent they were rewarded. Good, great writing can be found for free, and outside the confines of newsprint. With all this great writing out there, doesn't it seem like the current purpose of the newspaper has been supplanted? Throughout the world, local media outlets are attempting to adapt to the changing economic environment. The papers have learned they have to be streamlined, focused, and efficient to not just draw an audience, but to break even. Whether they are successful or not will determine the written "face" of local coverage for the foreseeable future.

Bloggers will find they are not counter culture anymore. We're mainstream. But this is what many have fought for. Respect and relevance. It's closer than you think. The era of online journalism is just started and this is the time of the greatest vitality of the medium. It will, as a matter of course, stratify and coalesce into a more formal arrangement that will replace the one we are seeing pass. It’s not that this is better or worse, it just is – no matter how difficult it is for the various actors in the drama. The newspaper isn’t dead, and the blog hasn’t won. They’re just learning how to work hand in hand to provide society with the most effective, efficient means of one of our most basic needs: information.

Today the traditional media, bending on its knees, has proposed to the blogger in Big B, tomorrow it may be Amir Khan, Shahrukh Khan and a host of other high profile bloggers, and eventually it may be your turn when the media asks you, “Will you marry me?”