Memories fade, but never lie. 1982. I finished my PGD in Journalism and was hunting for a job in Chennai. The Hindu, Indian Express showed the door. I went to The Times of India Mumbai and made my career.
But the beginning days. The Mail was a 100-year plus eveninger of British times. Its chief reporter told me, “We are shutting. Work as a reporter for three months. No pay but I will send you to cover celebrity events. Enjoy.”
One day, I was assigned to cover a girl’s school event. I was thrilled. The school opposite my New College. But without reporting experience, I was naïve. I entered the school feeling like a celebrity and was floored by the variety of North Indian girls. And the royal treatment given by the organizers. I was on the stage where cups were lined up. I was writing down each and every word they spoke. “Oh, this cup, oh oh...!” When I was introduced to the girls, I was floating in the air.
Age boss, age.
I returned to the office, gave them four written pages of what I had noted down.
“Good boy,” Chief Reporter Mr Menon patted me.
Next day, when I opened the paper, I saw a four-line brief report without my name.
What a punch. I can tell you buddies. Don’t give up if you get knocked once in a while. It actually helps.
Today if I can smile, it’s because of those punches.