Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Cross Connection

As a journalist covering the so called arcane steel industry, one would think that I have a run on the mill job with little or no excitement. But it’s actually quite the contrary. In a year of steel journalism, I have come across so many hilarious incidences and talked to so many “different” kinds of people, I am actually left wondering what it would be like, if I were a conventional journalist. But I don’t gripe. I enjoy my bits and pieces of fun, while I plod through vast numbers and facts about hot rolled coils and rebars. Today the episode was literally hurled my way…

Of course as it has become an occupational habit with me, I shall refrain from mentioning “names” of the people involved and thereby respect the privacy of my “sources”. Just to fill you in I’m on my way to Kolkata next week , to cover an iron ore seminar that my company is organizing there, and in the process I have been arranging a slew of appointments with possible future contacts. One such person is an international trader and handles the export of metallurgical coke that his company produces. I had been trying to contact him for a couple of days, but for some reason as it often happens, his phone line was unavailable.

Therefore imagine my surprise when the call did go through and the phone began ringing. Of course the ringtone seemed rather unfamiliar (I knew since I had been trying to call for sometime now). It was one of those really effeminate hindi movie songs, quite unlike the manly Bryan Adams number I had become accustomed to over the last few days. But I convinced myself that either his wife had changed his phone’s ringtone (I being a wife apart from a steel journalist bear testimony to the fact that we do that more often than we would like to admit), or his tastes had radically changed.

So imagine my surprise when the call was received and a woman’s voice floated through in hushed tones. This was very unusual because I had called him on his hand phone and his secretary answered only if I made the call to his landline. So I figured he must have left his phone at home and the woman at the other end was his wife.

I was just about to set the conversation ablaze with my customary cheery Hello followed by an even more cheerful “namaste”, when I heard another woman on the same line. For a moment I went... “woah…!!!” before I realized I had cut in on a conversation between two people I did not know, about someone who was also completely unfamiliar to me.

Now we all know that God has made us intelligent with the will and volition to make the right choices. And at this point, the right choice would have been to do the ladylike thing and hang up. But I must confess…I did the exact opposite. I listened on. And before you judge me…know this…if it weren’t for my sharp decision at that point, then there would be no witty anecdote to narrate at all. The conversation went some thing like this :

Woman 1 (lets call her W1) : Its true I heard it from Deepti (names changed on account of writer’s forgetfulness).
Woman 2 (lets call her W2) : Wow this is big news…how did It happen?
W1 : It happened how it normally happens Shoma…do I have to explain it to you step by step now?
W2 : No no, I know how it happens…I mean HOW ON EARTH did it happen?
W1 : Well it just takes two people you know. But Deepti never jokes about these things. I know for sure that she got pregnant and she was NOT married
W2 : Its not uncommon though…anyways what happened then?
W1 :It was a big scandal! Her whole family came to know of it…you can’t really hide a thing like that…and there was no news of the father either…
W2: What? you mean he vamoosed? what does Deepak have to say about that?
W1: I don’t know, I meant to bring up the topic with him, but how does one tell a woman’s ex husband that his ex wife is pregnant with someone else’s child?
W2 : Hmmm that is a pickle..what happened next?
W1 : He came to know anyways…as I said you can’t hide a thing like that
W2 : Oh My God!!! really?
W1 : No Im making it up… OF COURSE REALLY!!!
W2 : What a mess…he must have wanted to kill himself…
W1 :Actually just the opposite…when she had the baby….
W2: She had the baby? already??? its been sooo long?
W1 : Yes she went to that murky hotel…”The grand Maharaja” I think…and had the baby there…Its been two months already…are u ever in the know about anything that happens?
W2 : “Stunned silence”
W1 : It was a boy. And Deepak helped in the delivery.
W2: “More stunned silence”
W1 : That’s true love I think…
W2 : Are they back together??

At this point, I realized that I was privy to some gossip that I never should have eavesdropped on in the first place…and no before you ask me, I do not know if Deepak and Deepti got back together…I don’t even know who Deepak and Deepti are. But I have learnt a few things for sure….Firstly, that true love transcends all actions good or bad, secondly having a baby in a hotel may lead to reconciliation with the baby’s prospective father (I’m only speculating), thirdly gossip can be found where it is least expected (and trust me, it is least expected in the steel industry where the maximum that people can gossip about is how xyz mill had to cut 30% of its stainless cold rolled coil production or what political backing the government must be having for canceling the export duty on the much fought over commodities like iron ore) and lastly, cross connections have a freaky way of happening when one is least expecting it, so Watch out!

-------- Shreyasi M (Still learning, Steel Journalist)

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