This morning, I had gone to see one of our most distinguished editors, who is bald but gives the impression that he is shaving his head. "Welcome, welcome," he said, "let me offer you a cup of Editor's Choice tea."
"You must be joking," I said. "You can't waste Editor's Choice on me, it costs more than Rs. 3, 000 per kilo. I'll have Brooke Bond Red Label."
"You don't worry about that, have an Editor's Choice. It is the tea of decision-making editors," the editor said. He then summoned his associate editor, told him to go to the Oberoi pastry shop and buy 250 gms. of Editor's Choice. "Make a voucher," he told him, "for the tea and for your going in taxi to get it."
"You send your associate editor to buy you tea?" I asked.
"Not noramlly," the editor said, "but they don't sell you Editor's Choice unless you are an editor or at least an associate editor."
While the tea was being brought, we discussed its merits. It is made from the finest blend of Darjeeling tea, very delicate, not at all like the over-boiled, dark, thick and bitter tea that journalists for 150 years have been consuming from their canteens.
The editor explained: "When you drink Editor's Choice, you feel inspired. You forget about writing reports, you only put large photographs, maps and headlines in the paper, and you sell it like any other product, at a price that no other paper can afford to sell itself."
"Yes, I know what you mean," I said.
By this time the associate editor had retuned with the tea and the voucher to be countersigned. The tea was in a ceramic jar, very elegant. I thought, after you have finished the tea, if you can ever bring yourself around to finishing such expensive tea, you can use the jar as a flower-vase.
The editor himself made the tea. Other senior editors dropped in and tea was made for them also. I was feeling awkward. I did not know whether to drink the tea or to keep it. It seemed such a waste to drink it off. But then I thought keeping it would make it could and useless, so I gently sipped it.
The editor himself had several cups, leaving them half finished. But he could afford to do that. From the way his paper running, he had money to burn.
As I was leaving, I made one request. After the tea was finished, could I have the empty ceramic jar.
And when I arrived at my office and the chief asked me why I was late, I explained: "I was having Editor's Choice." And the chief told me: "I am warning you, don't become too big for your cup of tea."