Monday, December 23, 2013

This is my December

This is my time of the year. I still happen to like that song, by the way.

Guess what? Music can really soothe your soul. Fleet Foxes, Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, Porcupine Tree. Ahhh :) And what is better is to put earphones on and not care how you sound caterwauling :D 
I went on a sort of movie-watching rampage after my internship got over. I finished reading the Hunger Games part one in a day and watched the movie at night. Can’t wait to read the next two parts. I guess I will always be a sucker for fantasy fiction. Then I watched Half Nelson. Man, Gosling, he never fails to amaze me. Watched Annie Hall next. How come I had never watched his movie to the finish? What a movie. So progressive. I’m a fan of Woody Allen. I really liked when he said “I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. The horrible are like terminal cases, blind people, crippled. I don’t know how they get through life. It's amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful you are miserable. Because that's very lucky, to be miserable.” Haha, what a man! Then I watched Lolita. I couldn’t read the book completely because I thought Humbert Humbert is really sick. But the movie was good. Especially the man who played Quilty. Very nice. And then I watched Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story. I had no idea how these big corporations had sucked the blood of the lower and the middle classes. You should really watch his movies. He’s a crazy genius.

In other news, I cannot believe my internship is over! In hindsight, it seems as if it flew by, but it was really crawling when I was counting the days. There was a point when I was utterly demotivated to work because all my efforts were not bearing any fruit. And it was a bitter, bitter pill to swallow. To work on a story all day and not seeing it in the paper because there were better or more important stories. It is a feeling every reporter goes through, and it can really deflate you like a balloon.

But then my sister reminded me of something my granddad used to tell us, “Karm kar, phal ki chinta mat kar.” Roughly translated, it means “Do your work, and do not think of the outcome.” And then my mom told me the same thing. It doesn’t matter that my stories are not coming out, I should not take life so seriously. Plus, the entire process of doing the stories itself has taught me so much. This has been probably the best internship I could have had. Worked in a healthy environment, got some good work to do, met some really nice people, got to travel all over the city. Seriously, I was not even expecting so many experiences packed in under two months. I have seen the dark side of Mumbai. The underbelly. The dirt and grime. Not to mention, a lot of crime. (That rhymes!) I have walked in lanes so narrow I felt they would cave in on me. I have smelled places so bad I felt I would faint. I have witnessed various cultures, people and lifestyles all in one city. And the biggest achievement, the oh so many lunches I had alone. I have always hated eating alone. But now, I think I can eat in a roadside restaurant without being self conscious. When hunger takes over, comfort takes a backseat.

Also, I always start smiling to myself now when I look at policemen. I’ll always have a special invisible bond with them, no matter where I go. I have met some interesting ones, some really good ones, and some really oh-my-god-will-he-ever-talk-sense type, but I’d have to say one thing. The Mumbai police force is good. I’ve seen cases being cracked in a day. Some impossible crimes being solved with the most ingenious methods. Then you should see them gloat. It’s almost cute the way they gush over when they talk about how they nabbed the criminals. It’s really interesting to see how the cases unfold though. The biggest thing is that I never thought I would be able to handle this. And I did. Now I feel like I can work in any beat. I can’t believe I’m saying this! I think I have grown up!

Okay, now this post is going haywire, so I shall write about my challenges in point form.

1.  The huge amount of courage it always took me to enter police stations and handle the stares. The curious eyes always seeming to ask ‘Okay what is SHE doing here?’ ‘She looks like a kid. She’s a reporter?’ ‘She doesn’t belong here! Go away, little girl! This is a dark place where bad things happen. Go on, go to a candy store.’

2. The infinite amount of patience it required to sit outside the officers’ offices, when they acted important, when they were busy attending their never-ending ‘meetings’, when they had more important things to do. When I waited for hours, only to hear “I cannot tell you anything about this case. You should talk to Mr. So and so. And Mr. So and so is on chutti.” Grrr. Why, god why?!

3. Visiting a crime scene after a murder or a suicide and talking to people about it. Just how are you supposed to start a conversation with a random passerby about someone else’s death? It took everything it had in me to approach a stranger and talk about it. Most of the times, they stared at me wide-eyed, dodged all my questions and ran away.

4. When I had to try all the tactics in the Handbook of rookie reporters to get information out of a cop. Stern expressions. A confident voice which said ‘I’m not going till you give me all the information’. Puppy eyes. Shadowing a cop relentlessly till he had to give me something out of sheer exasperation. 

5. Realizing you never find any other female crime reporter anytime you visit police stations for a story. And that it is such a boys club. And that police officers are so much more comfortable talking to men, rather than a skinny little girl. They even joke around with them. Sigh.

6.  Sitting in Marathi press conferences, blank and uncomprehending. Then leaning over to a fellow reporter and saying, “Um, could you give me a teeny tiny idea of what the heck is happening?” And many time, telling the cops, “Could you puh-leez be kind enough to talk in Hindi?” and grinning.

7. The frustration and the anguish of knowing that after travelling in unimaginable conditions sandwiched between people of all shapes, sizes and smells, you do not have enough to make a story. After spending your entire day bumping into dead ends, you have to go back to office empty handed. I felt like crying then. Because it made me question my abilities. But somehow you had to file in the story. Talk over the phone, make a million calls. But get it done.

8. The exhaustion that hits you on the way back home. When you sit by the window, with your hand over your head, listening to music, looking at the tired faces of the fellow passengers and thinking “This is not easy.”

9. Having to go through the arduous task of being in the midst of so many unthinkable things humans do to another. How they can be so heartless as to take someone else's life is beyond me. It's depressing. 

Apart from all of this, there have been some good times. So, naturally, it calls for another list.

1.  The feeling of seeing your name in the paper. A byline! Your efforts are there for the people to read. That some space has been carved out for you, amongst so many other good stories.

2.  The seemingly endless Monday meetings with the entire team. The intelligent discussions that made you feel like they are speaking another language. The story ideas peppered with jokes and leg-pulling. The feeling of being a part of a proper newsroom, where people churn out so many stories about the city every single day.

3.  The lunch with my team members S and G after the meetings. S’s home food. His silly quirks and jokes. G’s one-liners, the way he sang old hindi songs in office. His encouragement every time I felt down. His support every time I doubted myself. Making fun of certain people. Laughing at each other. Mostly them laughing at me. 

4. Asking T to go for a tea break. Sharing her dabba with her. Having tea and uttapa and cheese sandwiches in the cafeteria. Going outside the office and having masala dosa with cheese. So many cups of chai. Cribbing about the day, joking about our experiences, sharing the mutual problems and talking about college.

5. Stealing time from work and sitting at Marine Drive. That one time T and I were so bored we sat and stared at the crabs. For half an hour. And it was one of the most interesting things we had done that day.

6. The entire feel of Nariman point. The roads, the tall commercial buildings, marine drive, the cool breeze, the lack of noisy crowds everywhere.

7.  The overall atmosphere in the office after 7. Phones ringing, fingers tapping at the keyboards at top speed. The chatter, the excitement, the rush of meeting deadlines, the jokes.

8.  Sunlight. The drinks. The conversation. Crossing the road like little kids. Laughter. Abandonment. Popcorn stuck in the hair.

9. Having N to talk to. The way she entered my room when I was curled up in bed, and talked to me and always made me feel better. The way we went out to have coffee or just 'some place nice'. Having my college friends as my flatmates and knowing I can talk to them and laugh with them and meet them back on the hill again.

10. Always having someone or the other to be with. Trying out so many new places. The Little Door, Theobroma, ChaiCoffi, Bistro 1, Big Bang Cafe, Firangi Paani, Banana Leaf, Woodside Inn, Hawaiian Shack, Hearsch and so many more. 

10. The feeling of ending the day with a fulfilling story. A good story. The feeling that you contributed to the paper. You did something worthwhile. Sitting in the train, looking out and just feeling good about yourself.

I did not realize how long this post has turned out to be. And there is so much more that I have to say. Well, I’ll have to leave that for the next time. There’s so much more of Mumbai inside me that I have to share. Christmas is almost here and tomorrow I’m going out with one of my best friends to shop and roam around Bandra. Oh I am so excited! Life can be so amazing sometimes. I shall write more. Soon.

P.S. Today a friend texted me “You know, if all human beings were more like you, I wouldn’t have hated humanity so much.” How adorable is that? :)


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. aye dil hai mushkil jina yaha
    jara hat key jara bach key, yeh hai bombay meree jan

    kahee building, kahee trame, kahee motor, kahee mill
    milta hai yaha sab kuchh ik milta nahee dil
    insan kaa nahee kahee namo nishan
    jara hat key jara bach key, yeh hai bombay meree jan

  3. Haha didoo :) I've been humming this song since you commented :)

  4. love the post, inspiring . Great to read about your journey. Hope u have a great time this new year too...

    cheers and regards ,


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