Jul 11, 2013

The Pursuit of Journalism

I was reading Narcopolis and I came across a part where the story of the opium dealer Rashid is being told and how a group of foreigners from Spain or Rome came down to Bombay to see what all the fuss was about. They took photographs of his khana and asked him questions about his life and saw where he lived and left. They had a story, one that had not yet been told. Or at least not one they had read or heard before. If you see a story, you want to tell it. That's why it's been a year or Monday meetings with at least 5-7 fresh story ideas and most have been written, published and read (perhaps). My job as a storyteller is done.

That's probably the reason why I chose journalism. I may have good stories to tell but I'm usually not good at verbalizing it. I write for myself but it doesn't come out the way I want to say it. Within the pages of a newspaper, I can share the world as I see it with the world. I was at Avenue Road this morning hunting down an obscure dosa restaurant for our eatery column. Most of my colleagues don't even bother searching for the best. But I want to find it, find out about its history and then tell people why they should go there. It could be an article with the basic details - where is it, what do you get there, for how much. But I ask the owner about the specials in the menu, how the 'hotel' was passed down from his grandfather to his father to him.

So after I was done telling the story of Hotel Vijay Vihar, I took out my camera to put the shutterbug in me at ease. There was commotion and energy and the rawness of any Calcutta market that was picked up and transported to the center of Bangalore. There was a man selling glittery blouses from a duffel bag in the corner of the road. I asked him if I could take his photograph. He let me. Someone else passed by and asked if I was 'from press?' I said I was, though this was just clicking for pleasure. It struck me then that today, that was the best possible reason for seeing a girl in a kurta standing and taking photographs at a busy market square.

To me, I had to be finding novelty in something that they saw around them everyday and be documenting it for something, even if they weren't sure what. That's the only explanation to wanting to do journalism even today. What's been reported has been reported - the wars, the freedom movements, the politics and state of affairs going from bad to worse every day.

But in today's modern context, it's a whole different history being created. The revolutions are of a different nature, the demographics of audiences at any performance different, the technology unlike the days of the printing press or a few hundred years more. It's exciting, to say the least, to be a part of this society, however messed up one might make it out to be. I had vowed to myself that the day I run out of story ideas, I'll quit. It's been one year now and I don't think that day's anywhere close.

No comments: