Wednesday, July 29, 2009

It was Summer of 2000

It’s not pretty difficult to remember how I decided to seek a career in journalism. It’s mostly because of Munna Bhaiya (henceforth to be referred to as MB), a resident of my hometown Dumraon and currently working as a senior journalist.

It was the summer of 2000 and a lot of friends had gone to a village located close to Mughalsarai to attend the wedding of a neighbour. We didn’t get a good treatment and were kept waiting for food, refreshment and the customary welcome. MB then worked for TOI as a Buxar-based stringer. He was also there with us. I was quite fanatic about cricket and had, by then, earned the reputation of someone who read English sports magazine a lot.

I was carrying a copy of Sports Star, which came in handy to beat the boredom. MB was surprised to see someone from Dumraon reading an English magazine. Someone told him that Darpan was the only boy around who could read English properly. This interested him a bit and he asked me, “We are not being treated properly here. Now frame a sentencing in English capturing the general mood here.” All I could manage was: “Why such a bad behaviour?” He was impressed. He asked me to stay in touch and visit his house once we got back. The request made me feel good.

The first day I visited his house, he showed to me a copy of ToI. I had never seen an English newspaper before! He read out to me a small news item: “Minor raped by army personnel”. He told me a lot of things about grammar, usage, translation and different styles of writing. He looked impressed by the way I picked up small things. From that day onwards, I began taking English seriously, reading newspapers and, in the process, I came quite close to him.

We would spend a lot of time together. He would also teach me History, spend money to set my room in order and keep me motivated. I used to teach a few students and he liked it. I soon began helping him with grammar when he filed reports. He would take me along while going out for reporting. I was virtually being groomed to be a journalist in the days to come. There was a vacancy in Buxar for a reporter’s job with HT. MB first tried to get his lawyer brother into HT. When he could not perform well, I was the obvious choice. He spoke to his boss in ToI who in turn talked to the HT RE about me. This was what I was told.

Some people did not like my decision to join journalism. They said I was being used. But I did not care. In March, 2001, I had my first report published: “Looted police rifle recovered”. A few days later, I got my first byline: “A cut in the fine will be fine for the cops”. I was so very happy. Suddenly, I had become someone important. MB worked with me for sometime and a year later he got a reporter’s job with ToI and moved to Patna. After three years at Patna, he went to Lucknow.


I worked with great passion as a stringer. Though I got almost no money, I certainly got a lot of bylines. It was a unique feeling to file a good report and wait for the newspaper till the next morning. I always found it difficult to sleep at night in such times. I kept thinking about the report, while tossing in my bed. I thought of a whole lot of issues — on which page would it appear, what would be the headline, how would be the display?

On getting up in the morning, I straightaway looked for hawkers. If I got out a bit earlier, I would intend to kill time by doing absurd things. I looked for someone to accompany me in the hunt. People always tried to avoid being with me in such times. And they were not to blame. I kept walking on the roads, covering long stretches on foot, hoping to bump into a hawker. If trains were late, the journey became longer. Finding out about the arrival of trains was also an important task. On several occasions, I reached the railway station only to find trains several hours late.

If my report appeared, it felt great. It was worth the effort. I started sending messages and calling people up. While returning, I stopped at several places, showing to people my report. I remained happy the whole day and all gloom, frustration and indecisiveness were suddenly gone. I felt I could live one more day while being absolutely happy. In such situations, I often bought two newspapers so that at least one copy could be kept for record.

On getting to my room, I rested in my bed with the newspaper in my hand. I looked at the article several times. I felt too good to fall asleep, though I was usually very tired from walking a lot to get hold of a hawker as soon as possible. Whenever I got out of half-sleep postures, I again looked at the article attaching a lot of importance to it as if it was a masterpiece or something; as if it would change the way reporting has so far been looked at, the course of journalism and my own career in particular. Sometimes, I took the newspaper to a few people in the evening asking them to look at the report. The day ended finally and I went to sleep feeling satisfied and confident, deciding to work harder.

This was the positive side of it. But what happened when things did not go my way? When I searched the whole newspaper and did not find my report anywhere? It was a terrible, terrible feeling. I felt embarrassed on coming across someone willing to know the fate of the report I had filed. I looked for excuses. I sought to justify the decisions of my bosses. If it was a feature kind of a thing, the agony only advanced as I started waiting for the next day.

I know people — whom I wanted to be with me while going out to get my copy of HT — always cursed me for subjecting them to the ordeal.


  1. Reading this one took me back to Dumraon.
    Your writing is very intense and yet very simple. It brought back old memories.
    I am trying so hard not to write my comment in Bhojpuri.

  2. arre bhai, aapan parichay ta de di... thanks anyway for reading

  3. Safar me dhoop sahoge , jo chal sako to chalo.
    Sabhi hai bhid me, tum bhi nikal sako to chalo.
    Yaha kisi ke waste rahein kaha badalti hain,
    Khud apne aap ko badal sako to chalo.
    Yaha kisi ko koi rasta nahi deta , Khud ko gira kar agar sambhal sako to chalo...........
    This is what makes us to go over big.

  4. Cool... The period of adolescent and such seriousness about career.. Its hard to see ... sometimes u can encounter such kind of seriousness but its hard to find the determination which u had.. Great keep it on if u want to risk something to achieve something great..