Dear Reader,

One day, during the monsoon of 2009, I wore my my school sweater – a snug, sleeveless V-neck, with the Baldwin Boys crest – on top of my house shirt, which was a ridiculous full grey tee with a purple-coloured collar to signify Pfeiffer house. All the colours for houses in my school began with the same first letter as the former principals they were named after, and the t-shirts used to be fully dyed until, for reasons I don’t know, we switched to the duller version. Was the management secretly into minimal design before it was cool?

Of course, during that monsoon, I loved that shirt. And I had for a while. It went nicely with the navy blue sweater, the white trousers, and the sneakers we got to wear twice a week. That Friday uniform redeemed this tanned, pubescent teenager.

And so had my singing ability, apparently.

A couple of my tenth-grade batchmates and I were walking through Baldwin Girls – a mythical power made true when we had made it through the auditions for a musical – for our everyday tea-break doughnut, when one of them noticed that we were being followed.

Picture a tactless group of teenage boys turning in unison to confirm this news.

(We have no regrets.)

He was right, and as we turned into the little cafe, we all confirmed it a second time. Now these were the days when Disney Channel had first made footing in India, and it hadn’t been long since High School Musical 3 had released. So what did we get when this reality of desi kids trying to be American (how the hell were white high school boys 6’2” and ripped?!) met the belated testosterone-bursts of a small group of boys who had only been with boys for 15 years, and was chucked vociferously into a bubbling cauldron of fangirls?

Excitement, and sparks, and fireworks, and possibilities.

It was exciting for a while, then it got annoying. Then, the desi morals kicked in and everybody went to tuitions after school to prepare for engineering.

We’d done it; we’d made High School Musical 4 – The IIT Dance.

One of the articles this week is from CJR, about a journalist whose stalker showed up at his doorstep, after months of chasing him down for a reaction. The obsession had begun after a public meet-up with the man to discuss a potential story, before escalating into something truly horrendous. And something journalists, increasingly, are facing all over the world. India is ranked 138 in on the World Press Freedom Index. (But hey, we beat Pakistan, who are 139!)

But in my world, of digital sports journalism, the barriers are high, the readers are usually hobbyists, and the stakes are never that high. It is perhaps why my immediate thought after reading the CJR piece was a decade-old, flimsy memory, as opposed to the first threat I got from an Australian while I was learning the ropes as a commentator. Or the man in my inbox at 4am, while I was calling a New Zealand game, who asked me, “Why can’t I find your photos anywhere?”

In fact, over the last few days, I copped a bit from racist Englishmen and fired-up Indians. (Telugu friends, I’m really interested in a translation for this: “Fuck off ESPN cricinfo you are truly England supporting then why should indians support you fuck off lanja kodaka ఇది nv elagu post cheyavu kaaani chaduvuthavu kada munda lanjakodakaka”)

There just isn’t reason to believe someone would hunt me down. It’s common to be accused of bias, and to be sought out on social media for abuse. But, like I said earlier, luckily for me, the stakes are just never high enough to have more than a drunk troll ruining my mood for an hour.

Then again, I haven’t yet written a piece on any of Sachin Tendulkar’s haircuts.

When I do, it’ll be a problem that I’m not 6’2” and ripped.

Yours,

Varun

P.S.: There’s an illustrated story this week!

 

Articles:

 

Story of the week – How to kill off a character — and make great TV in the process

A reader became my stalker. Is this the new normal for journalists?
Denialism: what drives people to reject the truth
Illustrated story: Ants
How six Chinese men survived the Titanic disaster, and the racist US federal law that ensured their obscurity

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