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Just Jug

SRAVASTI DATTA
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launch Jug Suraiya's autobiography is a “worm's eye view of journalism”

“Y our byline signifies your personal best. It is a guarantee to an article well written,” says Jug Suraiya, whose long career as a journalist has earned him a loyal readership.

The writer has recently come out with his autobiography — JS and the Times of My Life (Tranquebar, Rs. 495). The book, “is a worm's eye view of journalism. It's my view on how journalism has changed in some aspects and hasn't in others,” he says.

“The team that worked at Junior Statesman (JS) had no formal training in journalism. We were grabbed by the scruff of the neck and thrown into the sea. We swam or sunk. We had to write on every subject under the sun, and quick!”

But some things have changed. Paid news, for instance. Jug agrees. “It is a money-making racket. If it's done for page three personalities, it's harmless. They're desperate for publicity. But it is dangerous when it comes to people who are communal or have a strong ideological bias.”

The book chronicles Jug's many adventures and misadventures. He meets Mother Teresa, pretends to be the Maharajah of Malabar to gain entry into a tycoon's stronghold and travels incognito through Tibet with a French fruitcake. He's also made a career of annoying everyone from Amitabh Bachchan and Jayalalithaa to Shobhaa De — with all this, there is never a dull moment in the book. JS And The Times Of My Life is as much an observation on the development of journalism as it is an autobiography. As one reader observes, when JS wrapped up, it broke many hearts. “That's because,” says Jug, “the JS didn't talk down to the youth, it talked with them”.

Bunny, Jug's wife, is present in all his articles and columns, the most well known of them, “Jugular Vein”. There's even a chapter on how they met. Jug is a supporter of women's rights; this side of him is reflected in a touching chapter on Germaine Greer.

“There's still a great deal of inequality among the sexes. Men are the inferior sex, but the idiots haven't realised this yet. We consider ourselves champs, but we really are chumps!”

Jug can never escape Calcutta, which is always on his mind “it remains as memories of the lovely sunshine of my childhoodAnd, even after all these years, Jug loves to see his article in print. “It's fun to see your article in print, unless you spot a typo!” he laughs.

SRAVASTI DATTA

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