Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Khichdi: a name for our news websites

Today after a long time, I visited the Times of India website. I was looking for some good book reviews. Instead I found in front of me a colorful magical screen with alphabets and numbers scrolled all over and advertisements teeming like Diwali bulbs punctuated in between. In the book review section there were hardly any good reviews of fiction books. Instead the slight movement of the mouse over the colorful screen brought out a fresh set of options as if one had come to a market and was browsing for fresh vegetables and each vendor had a fresh set of options.

After that I went to the Indian Express website. It was colorful too but less populated as compared to TOI. Again I kept searching for book reviews but nothing was impressive. What could one say about the design of these news websites? One could say they are like one big Gujarati Thali one gets to eat in Ahmedabad where all varieties of vegetables are presented to you for consumption. But those thalis are tasty and there one has good choices. There is a better word of it in my mind: Khichdi.

When I was in the first standard, we had a teacher in the Christian school called Prasad Sir. Prasad sir, in addition to striking us with a stick had two other favorite topics of discussion. One was lizards. He was fond of talking about lizards to school kids who had no interest in them. He used to live alone and probably his only companion in his room were lizards, hence the love for them.

Other was Khichdi. Whenever a student tried to stitch together an answer in English, a language we were still trying to learn to speak in, he would make the same old statement: ‘ This boy (or girl) has made a khichdi of the answer. Do you students know what a khichdi is? A khichdi is a type of food where you can mix anything. Put rice, dal, water, juice and any type of vegetable, you can still eat it. You can put tomatoes, brinjal, anything you like. It makes a khichdi. Your answer was a khichdi. Do you think you can make a khichdi with your answer? Oh I forgot, you probably can also mix a lizard in it. Are you trying to make a khichdi here?’

The student had no idea what he was saying. But we had to listen, specially the student who was not sure if he/she would be caned next for making a khichdi for the answer. His/her only savior was some fool who would giggle from the back and Prasad sir would catch him/her and put his favorite stick to action.

Anyways, coming to the point, the news websites like TOI look like a khichdi to me. They can put any news (if you call it that) into the colorful screen and it would still be the TOI website. No harm done. From the love life of Hollywood stars to yoga lessons to lessons in investing to some stupid shit here and there, one can find all the bullshit on these websites. Except proper book reviews!

You would love them if you love Khichdi.

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