This Saturday I happen to have a full-page piece in Mint on the art and practice of oratory in India, as exemplified by two worthy new collections of modern Indian speeches edited by Rudrangshu Mukerjee and Rakesh Batabyal.
So if you happen to be in Bombay or Delhi, you might want to actually buy the paper, not because of any remarkable quality in the work, but because for the first time Mint has requested a picture of my mug to prop up the piece. As I don't have my photo in the newpapers very often, and as I get excited easily, unsurprisingly I got excited about this, as anyone would in my place. And why shouldn't I, after all I've been through? I quickly sent them a photograph from an angle which, if not exactly flattering, at least didn't further damage the case of what Nature had already treated so unkindly, and when earlier this week I happened to pass by the office on my extensive travels around the city (from restaurant to restaurant, bar to bar, popping by sometimes at the place of a friend to eat and drink for free) I thought I'd pop in there too and have a preview of myself on the page.
Imagine my shock then (at least try) when I found that they'd decided to use not my actual photograph - a representation of me at one remove, as indeed all representation is by definition, but you won't get my precise point without this recourse to tautology - but an artist's reconstruction of my photograph, or Chandrahas Choudhury twice removed from himself, and looking mighty upset about it too.
As you already can tell if you've been paying attention, I was not pleased to see this reconstruction. To be fair, it did bear a striking resemblance to me. But the resemblance was not to the me of today, which I might have accepted, but instead to the probable me of ten years from now - old, haggard, wearied by continuous book reviewing on the one hand and by being ignored by pretty girls everywhere on the other and the carping of critics on the third - or have I scrambled my metaphor? This was transparently unfair: let down, and by my very own paper! I protested and protested, and even offered to re-do the page myself on QuarkExpress, but they said it was already closed, and no, I couldn't meet the artist. I had a black coffee, and left in a mood the same colour.
Anyway, as the wise Macbeth truly did say, what's done is done. This post is too, and I'm off now.