Today I became a celebrity. I was part of a discussion on the railway budget on CNBC Awaaz. Granted I contributed nothing significant but now the entire nation gets to see me looking intelligently at the camera for one hour.
It was my first time in a TV studio and it made me feel very important. I’ve never seen myself on television except at weddings where they take videos of you eating. These are profoundly embarrassing as you don’t know how to react when you are blinded by the light and a camera takes a close-up of your face as you chew. Do you look at the camera? Or do you engage in a serious conversation with the person next to you? Are you eating in a refined manner? Or do you look like you are going to steal from the neighbors plate?
12 of the most unqualified people from my college were selected to attend the discussion. We were the management students and our role was to raise pertinent issues and provide solutions to them. On our way to the studio we discovered nobody even had the faintest idea on the railway budget. Instead we came up with brilliant ways to sabotage the show. Balaji and I would heatedly discuss the Cauvery water issue and then wrestle all over the studio floor while Ali vehemently demanded the independence of Ghaziabad from India.I pondered about raising the issue of certain anti social elements who make a nuisance of themselves on the train but the idea was quickly shot down my Bala and Ali. We didn’t want the country’s entire eunuch community clapping outside my college.
At the studio, the 12 of us were made to sit on a very uncomfortable 2 step arrangement. With us sat some very important people from the railway ministry. To my horror I discovered that the entire program was to be held in pure hindi. While I can swear convincingly in the national language, I cannot for the life of me discuss the railway budget in the same.
The anchor was a nervous man with hairy ears. I noticed the hair on his ears glint in the bright lights. Once the show began, he seemed to calm down and there were very few retakes. I realized we were merely props. While the anchor turned to us occasionally for our point of view, most of the discussion was carried forward by the old men from the railways.
The blood froze in my veins each time the anchor turned to us. I couldn’t understand what he was saying and for some reason he kept turning to me for my opinion. I maintained a fixed smile throughout and prayed until someone else said something.
Somewhere in the middle of the show, I wanted to point out how difficult it was for the elderly to board a train. But a little voice in my head said that I shouldn’t say “ Budde train mein nahin chad sakthe hein.”
By the time the show got over, our bottoms were very sore. Nobody had said anything spectacular and most of were just relieved that our ignorance was not revealed. We shook hands with everyone in the room and were later politely thrown out. They had another show to shoot apparently .
So that was my 60 minutes of fame. I didn’t say a single word for the benefit of the nation but I think my good looks saved me from ridicule.