Friday 27 November 2009

Finding Peace, Courting Change...

Phew! What a life it’s been. Two years ago, munching countless burgers in Los Angeles sulking about a life wasted on software code. A year ago, lounging in Chennai amidst discussions, writing, activism, books, lectures, reporting and beer. And tonight at Calicut, in a little apartment, looking back at six months as a professional journalist, grudgingly admitting that I have the best job in the world. Long gone by, the days I hated waking up to go work. A job I love doing? How unattainable that seemed a while back! And yet, I am here. Those lines of The Alchemist – on wanting something with all your heart and the universe conspiring to help you achieve it. Could that be true - I continue to wonder if this is a universal truth or just a great writer seeking to inspire readers? If true, what are those forces that got me here?

Journalism! The money adequate; every day recurring with new challenges, experiences and learnings; the satisfaction unbounded. The kick from arriving at an idea for a special story; happily doing the mundane like covering an event, seminar or exhibition; the hesitation before picking up the phone to talk to a stranger or walking into a dreary government office; scribbling illegible-even-to-myself notes at breakneck speed trying to keep pace with the speaker before finally overcoming daily deadline tensions to turn those priceless notes into a coherent story replete with quotes, facts, figures and where possible an over-arching narrative. The calamities that fate wills you cover in person or through phone; how a tragic incident becomes news that you have to convey to a reader accurately and vividly.

The six months haven’t been easy. An introvert by nature, there is hesitation to approach people; sitting in lone corners at press conferences and knowing very few journalists; I am the outsider. The lean Onam-Ramzan season – stray thoughts said my career was over; as stories thinned out and miserable hours typing staid press releases foreboded ominously that I had failed – yet again. The classmates in big cities earning national page stories and bylines; how that irked for a while! The sub-editing that I occasionally thought was unreasonable to me and my writing style, how I decided they unfairly denied me some bylines on painstakingly done stories – and how with experience I have now matured and accept the sub’s word as final, how crucial though thankless their job is, yet which they do without complaining. And then came October, a month of calm and cleansing, when the stories returned on a platter, when complaints and comparisons with others ceased and along came the beautiful realization that writing is the only job on Earth I am temperamentally fit for. And did not bliss return!

Calicut has been a mixed bag. Years and years lived in big cities where time seemed at a premium, now appreciating the laidback pace of life of a small town, how every place is five minutes away, how there is no hurry to reach anywhere, how people are friendly and smile and small-talk. But the intellectual circle that fuelled thoughts and ideas at J-school, or the fun crowd that made US life bearable – now missing and it riles. The nights are lonely, the books uninviting, the movies not compelling, the beer tastes musty – where are the circles of writers, firebrands, activists, etc that I have read this city is host to. Will I find them in Delhi? Can the spirit shine without bright minds to rub ideas on?

Journalism is tough work – I may not become a great journalist, but my ideologies and love for writing helps me stay afloat. The first gives me ideas and perspectives for stories on people and issues I hold close to heart, while the love for writing helps me get out of the office and away from press releases and do specials, features or at the least cover events. The career in India has begun from Kerala, and from a place I had the least idea of before coming here; I wonder how the Calicut experience will help in the future, but none of it matters. When the day ends, I come home happy, hungry, tired and sleepy but yearn for daybreak and getting the newspaper in my hands and seeing my story in print. What other profession do you see the rewards of your toil so quickly?

P.S.It’s become hard to find my personal voice after writing on others – the choice of words that earlier came gushing out, now reduced to a trickle. Noticed I began and ended this post in first person and somewhere in the middle the ‘I’s’ and ‘me’s’ had mostly vanished. This is why I am returning to blogging, to rediscover my old ways of writing. Tried twitter but it’s a plain stupid tool, not for fools who love to write long, loud and clear. Unsure if this is a new innings in blogging or just one night’s restive creative burst – troubled by a lot of injustices around me, but realize my writing, beliefs and life need this blog to express opinions, humour, irreverence and interactions that the newspaper doesn’t have space for. Cheers!

10 comments:

Rajesh Mohan said...

You're lucky to be in the profession you love.:) Good to see you back here. Hope you'll keep writing regularly here this time 'round.

Anonymous said...

Best wishes Jiby. Glad to hear from you.

-kajan

Dhanush | ധനുഷ് said...

Calicut has been a mixed bag. Years and years lived in big cities where time seemed at a premium, now appreciating the laidback pace of life of a small town, how every place is five minutes away, how there is no hurry to reach anywhere, how people are friendly and smile and small-talk

That is my city buddy :-) I love it for that.

where are the circles of writers, firebrands, activists, etc that I have read this city is host to.

Probably you are there at the wrong time. Or May be you can still find them. People like Babu Bharadwaj and all are still there I believe.

scorpiogenius said...

Its good to hear that you're in love with your job, a sure sign that you'll excel in it.

Even more thrilled to hear you're considering a return to blogspace. So we can expect a regular dose like what you've been giving us on 'daily jibster', cant we? ;)

Jiby said...

Rajesh, thanks. I will make an effort to blog regularly again.

Kajan, thanks.

Dhanush, so much more to write about Malabar. It was a totally new world for me and I am glad in many ways that I came here. Infact, my parents are scared I will junk trivandrum for calicut if I decide to settle down in Kerala! :) Looking forward to meeting you here.

Scorpio, I hope I can write some good stuff here from now on. Thank you for the continuous encouragement I have received from you.

Rajesh said...

Dude...
Congrats and all the very Best!!

Preetha Nair said...

Glad to read something here...
n happy to know u r doing what u always wanted....:) :)

Santhanu Nair said...

Your life can be read from your blogs. Glad that you are returning to blogging.

Jiby said...

Rajesh, Preetha and Santhanu...thank you guys. Me too feeling great about returning to blogging.

flaashgordon said...

Nice reading abt ur new life, man..a world of difference eh?plz keep blogging