#2 Journalism and Me

The day started off with an advice/rant/reality-check/insult barrage that basically said that a journalist should forget the fact that he/she had a personal life of any sort.

There would be no day-offs, night parties, movie evenings, holidays without the personal being disrupted by the professional world of breaking news and developing stories.

“There will be no more sitting and enjoying the sunsets. (With or without a loved one)”

This statement struck a chord.

Well, in a few weeks from now, I’d be working for a media house. A place where it will be all about deadlines and efficiency. A well-oiled system that cannot afford to have a defaulting cog in its machinery.

Having been in the field of merchant navy and worked round-the-clock to ensure that everything ran smooth in the ship, the deadlines and being on tenterhooks wasn’t the fact that bothered me.

It was the realisation that in a few weeks, I would actually be in a place where being a part of the sunsets, the first dew drops on a rose petal, the whiff of petrichor and the warmth of a worn-out pillow would become a rare occurrence.

It was somewhat fitting that I got to cover the political beat today.

A visit to North Madras always managed to instill in me a new sense of belonging with the city and leave me rejuvenated.

Today was anything but that.

I reached R.K.Nagar by noon and the temperature reminded me of the place I’d be going in my afterlife considering the things I have done till date.

Trudging along the roads that were concrete in a few stretches and dusty at the others, I did my first political reporting.

I grew up with the assumption that asking “Whom did/will you vote for?” to a voter is the equivalent of asking a woman her age and a man his salary.

That changed.

I understood the importance of sitting in a tea stall, ordering a coffee and chatting up the owner for a quote or two.

I understood the ease with which a juice shop guy will talk to a customer rather than a reporter.

I understood the necessity to make small talk before asking any hard-hitting questions.

I also managed to attend my first political meeting.

I consider myself to be a considerably patient person. Today’s political meeting stretched the limits.

The convener of the meeting didn’t turn up even after two hours of the stipulated start of session and I could see my temper flaring but then I realised how important contacts were in the field of journalism.

I did my small talk, sat and had peanuts with the party members while talking about their chances in the elections.

Another important lesson learnt today was that there is no one in this world who is more confident than a party member before elections. Even the party which constantly loses deposit always seem to be confident of their shot at winning.

It reminded me of the time when I used to guarantee that I’d get a centum in Mathematics even after attempting the paper only for 70 marks.

Patience, techniques, tactics and poise were among the many things that a political meeting in the northern most part of the city taught me.

The first time I was exhausted after visiting North Madras. This was also the first time I returned from North Madras without having the kebabs from ‘Moolakadai’ and Atho from Broadway.

I had to return home in time to finish my report and submit it.

But then, something beautiful happened.

I took a route that was lined with container trucks on both sides. It reminded me of the time I was working on a ship and sitting on the deck and looking at the vast expanses of the sky and sea used to be something I took for granted.

The sunrise, the sunset, the reflection of the moonlight on the grey sea, the cloud cover that gave a mystic feeling to the sea around me were things that I had overlooked.

I was riding on this particular stretch of highway when the orange sun was so perfectly spherical and large.

As I rode along the highway with a wonderful sea breeze messing up the hair that stuck out of the helmet, I saw that beautiful orange ball of fire slowly disappear behind a stunning cloud cover.

I stopped my bike for a moment and relished the sunset that I got to see purely by accident.

A sunset that I seemingly wasn’t destined to see.

A sunset that calmed my senses.

A sunset that almost made me shed a tear.

A sunset that I may not enjoy in its full splendor once I actively join the field of journalism.

A sunset that…

Oh shit… I have a deadline…