It is possible to spend your entire working life in The Times of India and not even get a para in the paper upon your passing, unless you are a Subhash Kirpekar, Arindam Sen Gupta or somebody of like stature and utility.
Meanwhile, The New York Times doffs its hat to Parambaloth Joseph Anthony or P.J. Antony, the paper’s “shrewd and sweet-natured” bureau manager in Delhi for nearly half a century, who has moved on to meet the great Editor-in-Chief, at age 82.
On page 2 of the world’s best newspaper.
And writing the obituary is Jeffrey Gettleman the Pulitzer Prize-winning South Asia bureau chief of NYT, with quotes from two other Pulitzer Prize-winning former Times Delhi bureau chiefs, John F. Burns and Jim Yardley.
Antony, writes Gettleman, “was a bookkeeper, a translator, a guide, an archivist, a newshound who could track 10 stories at once, and a beloved and indispensable friend to many correspondents and their families, handling expenses, renewing visas, translating documents, and decoding one of the most bewilderingly complex countries on Earth.”
Antony was most often the first to arrive at the paper’s office in Connaught Place, always with a bag of bones and pieces of meat to feed the strays, and sat behind a towering fortress of piled-up newspapers reaching back to the age of Nehru.
He called the paper’s bureau chiefs “Doctor”.
“Suhasini Raj, a reporter in the NYT Delhi bureau, once asked him if it ever made him sad when a bureau chief moved on, as they tend to do, every three or four years.
“You can’t get sentimental about it,” P.J. advised her. “So many bureau chiefs have come and gone that if I start crying at each one’s coming and going, I would be crying all my life.”
Each night, before leaving the office, writes Gettleman, he would stand up, walk toward the door, press his palms together, and make a subtle bow.
Read the full tribute: End of a beloved Delhi institution