Monday, March 15, 2010

Farewell, My Love

Sometime in the year 2001, in one of the dozens of things I found myself reading those days, I came across a line. I don’t quite recollect if it was a report or an article now. It was about the Afghanistan war; an incident where a woman was found plucking weeds from the inner sides of a drain. When questioned, she said that it was for her family to eat! Now, I can no longer vouch for the authenticity of this, considering how little I remember of the rest of it. But I think it was as I read of that incident that I first knew I wanted to be a journalist, to write such stories, to tell the world what was wrong with it.

From then, till now, it has been a wonderful journey. Journalism has remained my first love, it shall always be so. And when the passion still flickers, I say goodbye to a profession that has given me some of my closest friends, some of my most treasured memories and definitely the drive to follow my dreams.

I still remember my resident editor calling to tell me I had got my first job at Indian Express. Perhaps nothing is as exciting as your first job. The Express experience, as I know most people who have worked there will vouch, is quite something. Someday, in the book that is sitting in the back of my head, I will write about it. From the bad coffee to the shared computers to no internet to the absolutely great team to all the lovely lovely times, Express was the place I am so happy I started my career with, the place where I perhaps wrote some articles with the most passion.

I completed two years at Times of India on March 10. Two years that have been the one with the most changes in my life, personal and professional. It has been nothing short of a roller coaster ride, and, except for a few things on the personal side, I don’t think I would have wanted it any other way. Two years of so many kinds of people, work and experiences.

This was where I made some exciting trips. This was where I perhaps became more ‘me’. Rather, this was perhaps where the ‘me’ as an individual, as a writer was polished, where I learnt what I wanted, where I made friends. The friends, how I shall miss them. Nearly four years ago, I had promised myself that I would limit my friends among the journo fraternity, for reasons I don’t quite remember now. Save for under five people I am close to, I stay true to that though.

As I leave today, the 15th of March, I shall leave with a very heavy heart. I shall miss everyone, everything. I shall miss the work, but of course, the utter joy of meeting at least one new person every day, the thrill of being there, on the spot, the power of being able to write what a few lakh readers would read the next day, the luxury of going to places beyond the reach of most people, those we call the ‘commoners’! I shall miss it all; like a friend said, I shall be exposed to the harsh realities of life!

I shall miss the utter haphazard way in which the day goes by, the sheer unpredictability, the odd hours. I shall miss the office so much, my work station. I shall miss worrying about story ideas and specials and word count. I shall miss the sheer joy of seeing my byline in the newspaper. I shall miss the hundreds of acquaintances and sources I made over the years. I shall miss being a journalist, the slight joy that springs up in my heart when I say the word. I shall miss the hundreds of crazy callers who have the most absurd things to say. I shall miss Press Club and the whole exercise of going to assignments and waiting for hours.

I shall miss my colleagues, nay, friends in office. I shall miss bitching about work and life with Jay (though we will go on more trips together!), fighting with Subbu and writing his intros and laughing over the silliest things. I shall miss the fun the three of us have in the office, cribbing, plotting cruel things, sharing music and movies and gossip. I shall miss them both the most. I shall miss the endless cups of chai. I shall miss Nirmala and the discussions we have on books and movies and about changing the world. I shall miss Sita and the endless comments on the neighbours and the shocked stares and the endless plans to go everywhere.

I shall miss Manu for the comrade he is ;-) and the Kodagu connection. I shall miss Gullu for the conversations across the cubicle, the whispered gossip and the silly jokes and innuendos. I shall miss Sudhir for the long conversations, pulling my leg. I shall miss Susan for the sweetheart she is, Shruthi for her ‘magnificent, diamond stories!’ I shall miss Aarthi for her passion for garbage (sorry, couldn’t resist that!), Vinay sir’s stories. I shall even miss night duty, I promise! Gosh, I shall miss everyone in office, everything about journalism, everything that I am attached to, every story that has meant something for me. My first love, I shall miss it.

Until I began to write this, I didn’t realise how much I would miss being a journalist. Why did I quit? I am not sure how I can answer that. There came a time when I had to break the mould I was being cast into, challenge myself and take some risks. I would probably never do it after five years. I felt the need to listen to my heart, follow the hopes and dreams of a sunny day and make my own mistakes, grow, learn, get out of the comfort zone of knowing where my next paycheck would come from. Either I am incredibly brave or incredibly stupid. Either way, it is a risk that I know I had to take, for sanity, to be inspired again.

As for the future, there lies an open road. Not at all well trodden, but that is the way I prefer it. It is exciting, it is outright scary. I shall be writing much much more. There will be other things to do, more roads to walk on, more things to learn, more people to meet and know. My hunger for experiences will help me tread on. Whatever transpires on that open road, I know I shall survive.

A friend firmly said that there is still journalism left in me. I agree, I could never stop writing. I shall be back. Till then, I shall be around.

Farewell, my love. I shall terribly miss you.


Ravia said...

I guess couldn't agree with u more...wish u all the very best for the new challenges and I am sure your dedication and clarity will inspire several others like how it has always inspired me..

Deepa Bhasthi said...

Thanks Ravia :-)

Atul Vishwanathan said...

Incredibly brave or stupid? Those are just words.. Happy wandering :)
As for missing, I only miss the brand name.. really.. ha ha

Deepa Bhasthi said...

Thanks Atul :-)
U miss that? ha ha!

Pradeep Nair said...

Indeed one must never get trapped in the comfort zone. That's being complacent. Though I'd would also miss you, I'm glad you are indeed taking the plunge out of journalism.

I came to this profession by choice, abandoning MSc Chemistry; but unlike you I haven't had the guts to leave the profession. I could only manage to leave the paper I worked for. TOI is the 5th paper. I would say you are brave.

And, today, journalism isn't just about newspapers; but a variety of other fledgling media, including blogs. So, I am sure the journalism in you will thrive. And I am sure you will do well, whereever you are...

Wishing the best, once again..

Deepa Bhasthi said...

Thanks Pradeep...i dont know, i have taken the plunge...lets see where the roads lead now. it is both exciting and scary to be doing this, but i wouldnt have it any other way!