Dear reader,

This week’s Memory of Embarrassment was freshly baked on Wednesday and I remember every detail of it. I also happen to have it recorded on audio – a routine but, in this case, annoying consequence of my job.

Do I mean there was something more embarrassing than missing the Wednesday deadline for this newsletter? Yes. I do.

If you’re new here, this is the email you screenshot for when my biographer comes to you 15 years later. But more importantly, this is the screenshot you print, so you can show it to me in 20 years, when I try to retrace where everything went wrong. For my autobiography.

For the oldies (babies? Veterans? IMustTellYou-ites? How do you identify?) this is the customary apology for postponing. I will atone with a bonus edition soon.

I was listening to one of my favourite podcasts earlier this week, comedian Chris D’Elia’s Congratulations, which is an anything-goes weekly rant fiesta. D’Elia’s got something of a cult (who identify as babies, btw) going, which revolves around his complete anger over things. I know, I think that’s the ideal life too.

 

This week’s rant was about how his career was going to plan till he started doing the podcast, which now has so much reach, and makes so much money, that he can’t even ignore the damn thing. It was a self-aware, meta rant aimed at his own followers.

 

As a true patriot, I tell you this in the spirit of whataboutery. Yeah, I delayed the newsletter, but did I rant at you? I was two days late, but what about D’Elia who is anti-baby? I didn’t deliver, but did I compromise your data by passing it onto corporates like the Indian government in collusion with UIDAI D’Elia?

 

No, I didn’t. In the war of above-average email content, I’m still your gladiator. In the paradigm of free laughs at my expense, I’m still a titan. And if you’ve gotten this far, I am now officially your boyfriend.

 

And of course, if you’re Rahul Dravid, you are at the root of what happened on Wednesday.

 

As I’d told you last week, I’ve had some cricket to cover, and it has been going okay from a professional perspective. I’ve done a couple of stories on important players, and my live updates from the ground found me a tiny following of Australians on the internet who now call me Warney. Not too shabby.

 

It was a four-day game, and I’d been looking forward to ending it nicely on Wednesday when after the match, Dravid showed up for the press conference. As coach of the losing team, Dravid was the official representative that day.

 

I’d met him before, once, probably a decade ago, at a charity event. I’d gotten him to sign a book for me, but had failed to make him look into the camera for a photo. That picture is me grinning and holding up a signed book in front of my hero, who is looking to – without putting too fine a point on it – GTFO.

 

With this for a backstory, I began what would be my first ever interaction with him. Except, I wasn’t sure how to address him.

 

For the photo, I’d called him sir and it hadn’t worked. As a professional, it would appear sycophantic if I’d called him that now. Sooo…Mr. Dravid? No one does that a press conference, and it’d suck to do it in the presence of print journalists who are better at PC decorum.

 

This meant, by default, that I’d suddenly be on first-name basis with my idol. Rahul. Big deal. But also the name of my best friend, so I’ve had practice. But also it was sort of weird.

 

So, mustering plenty of composure, I began my question with what can kindly be described as an incoherent R-sound. For the sake of my self-esteem, we will stick with the kind description.

It wasn’t a roll, like an ‘rrrrr’. That might have been okay, actually. Rrrrahul. It’s still got 100% of his name after the initial run-up. But this sound resembled ‘roar,’ that is if roar had run head-first into ‘rao’ and picked up ‘ruh’ along the way and stumbled out of my mouth as a three-word-hybrid-baby.

I hope you’ve tried to recreate it with animated lip movements, because you will find it’s an impossible sound to make. Yet, I did it, fluently and without any palatal pyrotechnics. I have it on audio.

We’ll find a way to put it in the biography.

 

Yours,

Varun

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