The 2010 News Chronicle

2010 nearly comes to an end… and personally, there are various things I remember. But I was wondering, news-wise what sticks in our mind? Public memory is notoriously short… and that includes me.

These are some of the things that remain in my mind as some of the most powerful things this year. They might not include everything and perhaps the most relevant… as journalists, we sometimes fail to see the forest for the trees.

  1. The BP Oil spill disaster: tons has been written and we’ll probably begin to face the consequences of this spill for generations to come
  2. Facebook privacy fiasco: Zuckerberg and his statements!
  3. The 33 miners stuck underground for nearly 2 months
  4. The iPhone 4, the iPad and all that jazz: I can’t remember much in terms of technology this year… was there something that I am forgetting? I mean… the iPhone isn’t really new, the iPad is also old news and there were repetitions of those things from various companies.
  5. Wikileaks drama: It shook the world and made me wonder about the purpose of Wikileaks
  6. Obama’s visit to India: Didn’t really shake the world, but as an Indian, it was hard to miss
  7. Commonwealth Games: and all that it entailed. News-wise I wasn’t sure how important it is. The lede probably got buried under all the media houses shouting, but definitely worth a mention
  8. The numerous scandals in India: the 2G scam, the CWG corruption, the Radia tapes…
  9. Aung San Suu Kyi being released
  10. Displacement of the gypsies from France: strangely, this is one issue that remains in my mind. I’m not sure how much international attention it gained and how long it lasted, but it stays
  11. Sachin’s 50th Test Century: The man is indeed a legend
  12. The Football World Cup: and the saddest, most boring final I’ve seen
  13. Inception: The Movie of the Year
  14. Endhiran: The Indian Movie of the Year

 

Things that I did not remember but was reminded by photographs:

  1. The earthquake in Haiti
  2. Floods in Pakistan
  3. Olympics in China (jeez my memory is really full of holes)

And then there are other things that I remember simply because I write about it… like China and its currency, the G20 Summit in Seoul.

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My Job

Here’s the thing.

I think my job is fairly simply. I write stories/articles and they get published in newspapers/magazines/online places and you read them.

It is fairly straightforward to me. Which is why it confuses the hell out of me when someone asks me “What is it you do?”

When more than half the people who ask this question read newspapers every day and are probably  holding one of those things in their hands at that very moment, how can it be so difficult to understand ‘what is it that I do?’

I collect news and I write about it, which you read and then pretend to be well-informed about the world. What on earth about that little thing is so complicated?

 

Luring Me Away…

It isn’t so much the fact that I want it rather than the fact that I could have had it.

It isn’t jealousy but a twinge of ‘oh damn’.

The emotions I face when I hear about an ex-colleague doing really well. I guess it is only human but it is also a little difficult to admit to myself that I even feel such things. I paused when I heard something today and questioned myself – was that what I really wanted?

The reasons I quit my job are my own. One of them was that I felt that I needed change. I loved the company and some of what I did but the newness had faded and I felt I was stuck. So when I see others moving on, it makes me wonder if I didn’t try hard enough or gave up too soon.

But the real answer is – my goals were different. I never wanted to be in that field in the first place and then I grew to love it, a little. I liked the challenge and I was also good at it. But it isn’t what I really loved. And that was the problem.

Maybe I could’ve worked my way up to where I wanted to be – eventually. But patience is something I sorely lack and the only option I did see at that point was jumping out. Which I did.

But the dreams of that sort of glory and fortune are hard to die… which is why the twinges. And the need to remind myself that it wasn’t what I wanted to do. My goals, which were slightly different to start with, changed quite drastically in between. And I didn’t have the support or encouragement to go at them… it was all corporate-ship and a little… not my type.

So I thought about how it would be if I had that job… I would hate it once the newness wore off, like this one. By many standards, what I am doing is brilliant too. But the old problem still persists – this isn’t where I want to be.

Politics, intrigue, human interest, human rights – those are my dreams. I do not particularly care about currency wars. I wouldn’t have even learnt about these things if I hadn’t worked in those fields, for which I’m eternally grateful. I wouldn’t be able to talk about stock markets, indexes, profit statements, company results, strategies, inflation, GDP, housing, unemployment… I wouldn’t have ever bothered dipping into that world, let alone have such expert knowledge on the field.

Even if I did follow it, I wish I could write like my role model publications.

But it is funny that I need to remind myself yet again when fortune and glory come knocking on my door through a different route.

How many times have we told ourselves – “I’ll do this for a little while and then go do what I want”

I did that for a little while and now it is time to see how I can do what I want and not be lured away by promises of more money.

Link of the day: Photos the CommonWealth Games

The reason I love my job

Well, sometimes. After you’ve been working for a while, you settle into a rhythm, a routine and things get boring. Even in a job that is as versatile as mine, sometimes you get into a rut writing about the same kind of stuff. You are writing new things like a new company’s results, a new product and all of that, and you are learning and it is fun. But it is still… mundane.

And one day you interview someone or just talk and you realise how much of a difference your writing makes. That there are issues much bigger than what you do and the writing contributes to it some small way or the other.

I spoke to someone regarding a story I am working on today. There was a brief I skimmed through before I called him. I knew what he did and all of that. It is an interview and you are prepared, to a certain extent. But during the course of the interview, it came out that he was physically disabled. Of course, I knew he worked for the organization that dealt with such things. But I did not expect him to belong to that group.

It is an issue that most of us do not even pay attention to. We do not have time for disabilities in today’s world.

Towards the end of the conversation, he mentioned that it was really nice I was doing this story and bringing people’s attention to this issue, which needs addressing.

Why was I touched? Because he reminded me of how important my job is… that I do make a difference in some small way or the other. And there are people who are capable of inspiring you, who overcome challenges and obstacles everyday and manage a perfectly normal life.

Maybe we expect people with disabilities to be a particular way… We are steeped in our mindsets that we forget to look beyond what appears to be the picture.

There have been several comments the past few days about how the media did a horrible hatchet job on the CWG. Is it true? Maybe not completely. But somewhere, every television reporter gets caught up in the pressure of delivering news 24/7. You need to fill in airspace and you need to get that edge. So you use  bigger and better adjectives than the previous report and the whole thing gets blown out of proportion.

It is an evil world out there, and money is the bottomline. I refuse to believe the media is corrupt but our integrity is somewhat compromised by the advertising revenues. Yes, we all watched the movie Page 3 and there is some amount of truth in it. But the thing is… every person who signed up to be a reporter has some idealism in them. At least when we start out. We are all idealists who are brutally abused by the system, or by what we see, and we choose to either go bitterly cynical, or simply say ‘screw it’ and give the people what they want.

The real news sometimes gets lost in the sensationalism. You know the “shock news” thing now. But we get the news. There is always a Tehelka, a Watergate. But to keep the public’s attention – which is more attuned to Rakhi Sawant’s thumkas and gossip, we need to add the mirch  masala. It sucks. It is also reality. It also isn’t right.

I cannot say which way it will finally go. Will shares dictate the bottomline of news? Maybe. But I do know that as long as there are organizations like Reuters, New York Times, and to an extent, some Indian newspapers like The Hindu, journalism will survive. And there is always a streak of ego and integrity in us that will not allow us to go completely overboard. And if we do, there are always the tons of new journos that graduate every year. So, limited their powers might be, but we’ll have good news till the cynicism takes them over.

And then there are some who weather it all to become legends like Khuswant Singh. And some who end up with a cloak of popularity and disgust like Barkha Dutt. But being a journalist, we take it all with a glass of much-need whiskey.

A Slow Day

How much trouble can a piece of stone cause? I mean… some of them glitter and some of them are covered in blood. But as I read more about the Charles Taylor story, I wonder what possesses mankind to do such horrible things for money.

The Naomi Campbell story reads like something out of a Martin Scorcese movie. And I guess the rest of the witness accounts also sound similar. Diamonds, drug lords, weapons, beautiful women and well… lots of money. And if this were a slightly more serious movie, they would also include the children with cut off hands, people shot to death and piled in groups… and much more.

It astounds me sometimes how stupid we people can be.

***

Some funny stuff about work… Have you worked in a place where there are very few women working?

I perhaps have… though I cannot consciously remember. If I have, it was probably in one of those places where it didn’t particularly matter.

But it does matter where I am currently. Not in the manner of interaction. The people around me are really sweet and anyway, I am rarely conscious about “me.”

It did strike me though when I went into the loo. (Yes it is going to be that kind of a post. Get out if you don’t want to hear it) It was super clean. Too clean. No tissues. No dust bin. And one of the doors stuck. It didn’t really didn’t matter, because nobody would use it. But I wondered who would be the right person to ask to fix these things?

In Australia or US, I would’ve approached the custodian. But in India, I’m not sure if that would work.

The other problem here – food. Having worked in a place where the cafeteria was two steps away for the past 3 years, I’ve gotten quite used to junk food, even if the quality of the food wasn’t that brilliant. If not for the café, ther was always food to be ordered in… KFC, McD, varieties of Indian and Chinese and versions in between.

So working at a place where you have to go out of the building for food is rather disturbing. I mean what is the point of eating junk food if you have to work for it?

Link of the day: 50 Examples of Urban Decay Photography (I found this particularly fascinating. Not everything is gorgeous and some are overly photoshop’d. But it is an interesting concept. Though I generally prefer people to shoot, there is something compelling about old places. They have voices and stories to tell that can be quite fascinating)

The Monday Uniform

We’ve established by now that Bangalore’s traffic is bad.

Today morning I noticed a whole line of bikes standing in traffic. All the guys were dressed in crisp formal shirts, black or grey formal pants and black shoes. The Monday Uniform.

I couldn’t see any of their faces – good thing perhaps – but all of them looked incredibly smart from the back. Some of them had a hint of a tie peeking out, and backpacks. Probably men in marketing headed out for the day’s assignment. What is it about men in formal wear that makes so incredibly… interesting, if not hot?

The women on bikes were all hidden behind gloves, jackets, a stole and the helmet. And this is when summer temperatures are hitting 30s already. Are we so conscious about tanning that we would rather wear a jacket, gloves till the elbow, helmet covering the face and a stole and sweat through it in the traffic than saying to hell with it and enjoying that beautiful cool breeze while driving?

I realised I need to get a new helmet. The one I have feels like those things on a horse’s eyes… unidirectional, which means less whizzing between cars. And if i can’t do that – what be the point of using the bike?

Song of the day: Mama i’m coming home – Ozzy

Life No Longer Makes Sense

I worked during the day for the first time since I began work. More than than perhaps… I woke up at 7.00 AM for the first time since I left college.

The streets were still a little empty and the harsh summer sun hadn’t begun to boil the air. It felt good being back on the bike after such a long time. And it all added to this slight sense of unreality about the entire thing. I’m living in a slight sense of surrealness combined with paranoia. Or valid fear, depending on how you look at it.

By afternoon, there was the euphoria combined with the sense of unreality. Time moved fast and slow. I just do not get a grip on things anymore.

And that is perhaps also how I missed my best friend’s wedding.

I knew I would not be able to make it for her wedding but I knew there was a reception that I could attend but between the various shitty things that i’ve been doing or avoiding, I completely forgot about it. I hadn’t got the invite so I forgot about when it was either, and had no clue about where it was. And this is the sweetest of my friends 😥

And I thought of it today when she called really upset that I did not turn up. And it was only then I realised that i had not got the invite with the address. In this age of e-address, she wanted me to see the pretty invitation card they had designed. And I figured she would be too busy with her wedding preparations to actually check her emails or attend to calls so I never bothered to do anything more than send a message asking when. I figured she’d reply when she’d the time and forgot about it absolutely.

And I feel absolutely miserable to think about it now 😦 The precious day of her life and I was not there because I could not get off work. It would be too fussy to ask for more leaves to go… and I was absorbed in something I cannot even remember about that I forgot to follow it up. How do I ever make up for these moments that will never come back?

It kills me to even think of it!!

And today I receive two more invites in my inbox and I’m wondering about them. I know I shall probably not attend those events… but it just reminds me of the one I missed and I just hate it.

Life is just… gone weird on me.

Song of the day: I don’t want to do this anymore