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   It has always been difficult to start a day... (January 27, 1986)

It has always been difficult to start a day without a paper and a cup of tea (in that order), except, perhaps, on Sundays. It is also difficult to start the day without The Times of India. I mean the other papers are fine and the Indian Express gives exactly the same news as the Time, in fewer pages, but you get used to a product. Also, the Express does have a provincial look.

In Delhi, I have always been caught unawares. The papers are delivered early in the morning there, a lot earlier than Bombay. At the IENS (Indian and Eastern News paper Society) guesthouse, the vendor knocks on individual room-doors and asks which paper you want. If you tell him Times, he gives you Hindustan Times. In Delhi, the Times evidently means different from what it means in Bombay.

Actually, it would be a good idea to read the Times in Bombay and the Indian Express in all other cities, when you happen to be there, for the sake of uniformity. Except that one Express edition differs very much from another, the Vijayawada edition being the bottom of the barrel. I understand that the Jaipur edition of the Times is similarly devalued, not that the Delhi devalued, not that the Delhi edition is much better.

The difference between the Delhi and the Bomaby Times is the difference between The Times Of India and The Times, London.

The Hindu makes rather comfortable reading, at least everybody says so. The Tribune of Chandigarh is a also a good paper, though nobody says so. The Statesman, I understand, was once a great and prestigious paper, now it is a poor relation of it. But that has happened to everything in Calcutta, it is not a healthy city. The Telegraph in not a newspaper, it is M.J. Akbar.

Beyond India, there is the International Herald Tribune. When it describes itself as a world or global paper, it is not just and empty advertisement gambit, it truly is that. In Germany, France, out in the Far East, in Hong Kong, Bangkik, Singapore, you get the IHT pushed under your hotel door, compliments of the management. And day to day, you agement. And day to day, you keep in touch with the news of the world through it.

In Europe, there are no local English papers, but the Far East have them. The Strait Times is a large, heavy paper, filled with advertisements of commodity products like the streets of Singapore. Singapore, I think, is the most materialistic society in the world, more than Hong Kong, and Hong Kong may have reason to be so. The Bangkok Post is strictly tabloid journalism with less news than journalism with less news than Russy Karanjia Dauly, or whichever Delhi money pot's Daily it is going to be now.

The South China Morning Post of Hong Kong has a long and old fashioned name. I like newspapers with long and old fashioned names.

 
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