Some years ago, fed up of the page3fication of the TOI I decided to move to the Indian Express. It wasn't easy because all my life newspaper matlab TOI just like orange boleto Gold Spot. But if the Parle factory could change its goldspots to bisleri surely I could change my paper? In truth, I went back and forth - to the Express, then back to the TOI until I finally made the transition in 2003.
I stuck with the Indian Express for the next few years, even though it got thinner and flimsier and less and less satisfying. So what if the main paper was iffy - at least Newsline was good I'd tell myself. IE was the default choice of the progressives.
Then in 2005 the Hindustan Times which I used to read and like in Delhi, came to Bombay and without thinking I switched, relieved that I had a way not to give in to the insistent promotions of DNA and Mumbai Mirror. And I was quite happy with it for a while - it was a meaty paper with lots of interesting, provocative columnists and enough about environment, film, art, archaelogy etc. I didn't even succumb when Meenal, the editor at Mumbai Mirror said to me -'you don't get the mirror? Ok,I won't say anything.' although I felt a bit guilty given I write for them. Well, three years on, it's not quite so rosy. The papers gotten thinner than Kareena Kapoor. The columns are a bit centrist and shrill. They don't even really have an editorial of any gravitas. The supplement is depressing. They have tonnes of mistakes of language and of fact - recently in some article on porn the Milos Forman movie was referred to as Larry Flynt vs. Larry Flynt - when the real title is The People vs. Larry Flynt (as a google search would have confirmed). And even the initial campiness of Under Honey's Hat has gotten very ho hum and not fun.
So today, standing at the door, paying the newspaper bill, complaining - aap Tehelka itni der se kyon dete ho etc. - I slipped in the words I never thought I'd say - kal se roz ka paper Times of India.
I get the Times on Sundays and I've noticed that it's really improved. I see it at other people's houses and I do feel its changed in the opposite direction to itself. And one can just not read the Bombay Times.
Now there's been no change in the ownership, the basic philosophy etc. of the management so what's changed I wonder? I tell myself political growth lies in not being rigid but in responding to the reality as you see it.
We'll see what happens - tomorrow being the first day of my changing times.