I distinctly remember, several years ago, a man coming to The Times Of India, where I was siting on a typewriter, in the reporters' room, and offering me a job in some Gulf paper. I refused. Not that I could not have done with a good chunk of money, but who would think of working for some paper called the Al Jumhuriyat or Al Sheikh Emiruddin or something like that when he had a job with The Times Of India.
It is a decision that I have off and on regretted. Had I accepted, I would have by now had a National TV set, a Sony video, a Panasonic music system (Which I would have sold at a large profit), and probably made a down payment for a house in the suburbs, where I would have fitted all my electronic goodies.
A lot of my journalist collegues did accept the offer. One day, they would be in the office, covering Esplanade court and Mid-TownRotary Club (Dr. Dastoor speaking on "humour in medicine"), and the next day they would have breezed off to the Gulf.
The Gulf meant to me the Gulf. Only last week, thanks to Mr. Saddam Hussein and some detailed reporting in the Western press, I came to know that the Gulf meant Kuwait and duabi and Oman and the Emirates and a dozen other places, each with its department stores and Sheraton hotels and sheikhs.
So I do not know where they have all gone. But every two years they would return, wearing expernsive shirts, smoking Rothmans, talking about the air-conditioned bus which would take them from their air-conditioned houses to their air-conditioned offices and back. They would also bring a bottle of scotch for me, bot knowing that you can buy anything in Bombay now. But I never told them that, that would into have been a nice thing to do.
Some of them have retuned for good, retired after having made a nice packet, or resigned or sacked after having quarreled with their sheikh proprietors or British editior. Others are still there, and new ones are, or till last week were, going every day.
They never talk about journalism or their jobs. That is a subject they gave up the day they boarded the Gulf Air to wherever.
As for myself, I have never been able to resolve in my mind whether I did the right thing in refusing the offer. Not even now, when the Gult is about to burst into flames and a lot of journalists are in the danger of finding their dinars and dirhams devalued.