A banana as in fruit and not in a republic or in pants
Indulge me as I labor to establish some parallels between the size of American actor Kelsey Grammer’s banana and the decline in the editorial standards of The Hindu, one of India’s best known newspapers, into a “banana republic.” Where else but here?
Grammer is a successful television and movie actor who has recently had a very public divorce with Camille, his wife of 13 years. Naturally, both sides feel deeply wounded and aggrieved and both believe the other was the cause of the problem.
The 133-year-old The Hindu newspaper has been caught in a very public feud among the extended Kasturi Ranga Iyengar family that owns and runs it. One of them is N. Murali, who retired from the newspaper as its managing director amid acrimony after working there for 40 years. His main problem had been with N. Ram, his brother and the newspaper’s editor-in-chief.Naturally, both sides feel deeply wounded and aggrieved and both believe the other was the cause of the problem.
Camille Grammer was recently caught on camera suggesting that her former husband Kelsey’s banana is a “big disappointment.” “Big hands, big feet, big disappointment,” is how Camille described it. Later she told TMZ, that extraordinary achievement in pointless celebrity television, “I had that for 13 years, unfortunately.” “That” in question is indeed that, Kelsey’s member.
N. Murali’s long farewell letter to The Hindu’s employees talks about a lot of things but what has appealed most to my flippant mind is this reference: “The Editorial side is run like a ‘banana republic’ with cronyism and vested interests ruling the roost and finding space in the editorial columns.” Murali also questions the personal integrity of Ram whose writ has prevailed over the newspaper for now.
So those are the facts. Here is my Friday take on them. If you have chosen to live with a small banana (as in the case of Camille the former wife) for 13 years or have been the top management of a ‘banana republic’ (as in the case of Murali the managing director) you do not get to complain when you are left holding the withering peels. I suppose 13 years and 40 years are respectively long enough durations for Camille and Murali to resolve their banana situation one way or the other. If not, one is forced to conclude that for whatever compulsions they both tolerated their banana republic for as long as they did.
I am sure Camille did not think that Kelsey’s “big disappointment” might evolve into something more impressive if she waited long enough. And in Murali’s case, he could not possibly have thought that if he, as the managing director could not manage to arrest The Hindu’s slide into a banana republic anyone else could have. At the heart of Camille’s and Murali’s heartburns lies the common human failing to grin and bear one’s own plight. However, there must be some rule that says that after a certain period one can no longer blame the situation one is in but oneself.
So there, that’s my churlish perspective on two totally unrelated developments.