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Chain Of Smoke Rings

Chain Of Smoke Rings
It’s been over six months since Dr Anbumani Ramadoss’s killjoy decree changed the clubby atmosphere at the Outlook office forever. The air on the first floor, where six of us chain-smokers sit, is now so pristine it hurts to breathe. Without that white weed in our fingers, it hurts even more to find the mot juste, let alone render into intelligible English reports filed by our stringer in Jhanjharpur. We smokers have been banished, along with withered potted plants and broken office furniture, to the rooftop terrace. But there’s been an unexpected bonus—climbing three flights of stairs, several times a day, has done wonders for our fitness levels. So has cutting out all those cigarettes mindlessly puffed at one’s desk. Thank you, Dr Ramadoss.

Another bonus was the new spirit of camaraderie that sprang up among colleagues, as we met on the terrace and exchanged gossip and ideas over a cigarette while soaking up a bit of winter sunshine from October to March. Those impromptu terrace smoking sessions, in fact, turned out to be far more effective as "bonding" and "team-building" exercises than the expensive (and absurd) ones that MNCs send their executives on, where they’re all roped together as they climb a perilous rock face.

But those happy days are over now. With temperatures crossing 40 degrees C, the terrace is deserted. Going down to the street level is not an option—there’s a crowded parking lot there which is not exactly conducive to a relaxing smoke or a conversation. Now, we smokers have really got nowhere to go. So if you find a bit of the old spark missing in Outlook’s summer issues, blame it on Dr Ramadoss. As the old saying goes, there’s no fire without a smoke....

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