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Hot off the press

To the common man, the value of a daily is lost the moment he has finished reading it.   | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Though we can catch up on news on the phone, the morning newspaper is still welcome. The crispy newspaper, which arrives at our doorstep come rain or shine, is avidly read by family members who vie with one another to share it.

By late evening, however, it is left crumbled in a corner to be consigned to the shelf. To the common man, the value of a daily is lost the moment he has finished reading it. Of course, there are some readers who assiduously preserve newspaper pages containing informative, outstanding articles.

The bulk of the back numbers, however, awaits the inevitable hour, the day the old newspaper collector calls at the door.

In western countries, the practice of selling old papers is not in vogue. There, households consign them to a separate bin from where it is collected by the civic body for recycling. India receives a significant proportion of waste paper from the U.S. and Europe for reprocessing, along with local consignments.

Palani, the stocky paper buyer with a pointed moustache, dressed in a white dhoti and shirt and riding a “frontload” tricycle, is a familiar figure on our streets. His call of “Paper, paper” attracts the attention of households. He is a shrewd businessman who wins his customers with a glib tongue.

Peering over the rim of his glasses, he will carefully study the seller before quoting his rate. He will offer only a nominal rate for used neighbourhood papers as these are supplied free of cost.

He will carefully segregate the bulky demi-quarto supplements while weighing the newspapers since these are not to be paid for at the same rate.

During the pandemic he was one of the millions of informal workers who were hit badly. To this day, he is thankful to our residents’ association which provided a helping hand to him on those dark days.

Once on seeing me, he held a sheaf of papers with a request to check whether it was of any importance. When I told him it was the original sale deed of a property in favour of one Mohan Raj, he looked startled for a moment, and then composed himself. The next day, he told me he called on all his customers and finally restored it to the property owner.

He said the owner’s wife had inadvertently mixed it up with old newspapers. “I thankfully declined the ₹500 that madam offered as consideration,” he said.

ramaraon2014@gmail.com


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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 2:15:00 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/hot-off-the-press/article37719183.ece

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