A dull start to 2011, but ending last year with an award wasn't too bad...
It’s been a sort of frigid New Year this time, as least that’s my feeling. Until last year, there would be at least half a dozen greeting cards, and an odd letter. The phone calls ceased a few years ago – the ones on the land line at midnight. A few years ago, New Year would be heralded by the constant rings on the telephone, which would go on till about 1am or so. Those would be followed by calls to friends and relatives the following morning. Last night, even the crackers seemed to fizzle out before exploding.
This year, I have not received a single greeting card, which is perhaps saying something. I wonder whether greeting cars sell at all nowadays, which is a pity really. I remember all those visits to various retail outlets while on a drive to buy New Year greeting cards at the most economical prices. There was also a time then I, like many others, would spend long moments picking and choosing cards, to be sent to my sister or nephews, uncles, aunts, cousins, former sweethearts and all the rest. Now that has become history. Perhaps I must find time to do these things again and surprise a few people. Let me see…
All that you receive nowadays are emails (even from old-timers who say they have nothing much to do with the computer!), many of them copies to the whole universe, and as cryptic as they can get. Then there is Facebook, of course. Sad indeed that the days of waiting for, touching and feeling a card, and reaching for it again and again are over.
Last night was a disaster in other ways – erratic voltage, which meant hands off the PC; a hurried dinner with motivation to do little else; and SMSes not being delivered although the network was deducting the charges.
The good side: well, I made a resolution to complete the Harry Potter series and began with the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. There's nothing better than a good book to lift your spirits.
The day before was in some ways a celebration. I was an award winner – that’s not happening too often these days. This one was from the Public Relations Society of India, for my editorial work on Precis, the body’s newsletter that I have been editing the past seven years and which has won the all-India award fro 2009-10. The award was received by the PRSI secretary in Kolkata at the recently held national conference. This was not a first (Precis has been a winner a few times before), but PRSI thought it fit to formally hand me and the prepress firm the award.
My links with the PRSI are almost two decades old, beginning with my TTK days as a PR person on the move. Those links have remained strong over the years and I have forged long-lasting friendships with quite a few. Some have retired and moved on; others have blossomed and scaled the ladder.
One of the stalwarts who was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award the day before was R.K. Baratan, who, along with Gyan Haksar and M. Gopalkrishnan, was one of the founding members of the PRSI, Chennai Chapter. They were also instrumental in starting the PR degree course in Stella Maris College after convincing Malcolm Adiseshiah, then the vice-chancellor of the University of Madras.
Haksar and Gopalakrishnan are no more, but Baratan continues to be active (he is the president of the Sri Sastha Sangam which runs the Ayyappan Temple in KK Nagar). A topper all through his student days, he has written a couple of books and my talk the day before has now motivated him to complete his second book on PR. With the Radia tapes and all the controversies we are in today, we need people like Baratan to inspire youngsters by clearing the air and adding doses of credibility. Let me hope he will take this as a personal call to be more active in the PRSI.
Pictures show the national vice-president of the PRSI, R.K. Dharan, conducting Tambola (he’s very good at it); Baratan addresses members and their families after receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award; Dharan presents the Precis award to yours truly and Daniel Dass, branch head of Advertising & Sales Promotion Co., which does the page-making and pre-press work; and Dharan presents an award to Neha (for lay out) and to Gopal Singh, head of Nextwave Multimedia, which handles the PRSI Web site.