Being a journalist is a mind expanding experience, since the people you meet professionally know a lot more than you in their chosen field.
When I took up journalism in New York, I called my father in New Delhi to tell him that I had joined a newspaper as a journalist. He was not ecstatic. He had visions of my following in his footsteps as a scholar, and working on religion, especially Sikh religion.
Actually, so did I, and it was with this intent that I had studied Philosophy for five years, but then, destiny had a different destination, and I became a journalist… just as my father had done more than 40 years before me.
Being a journalist allowed me to meet people I would have never met otherwise. I got to places and events inaccessible to most people in other professions.
I was at the White House when Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and President Ronald Reagan met on the Black Tuesday of October 20, 1987… and in an unrelated development, the stock market at Wall Street crashed.
After the two leaders went through their scripted speeches, there were shouted questions about the crash, which President Reagan just shrugged off. His shrug spoke volumes.
Many years later, in 2003, I was to read K Natwar Singh’s account of how nonchalantly Regan had behaved that day while meeting the Indian delegation, even as he must have been preoccupied with the news of the crash.
I was there when the two Mehtas—Ved and Zubin, among the most accomplished Indians in the USA, were honoured at the American Bicentennial Celebrations at New York harbour in 1986. Their recognition was well deserved and the fireworks that followed the event were spectacular.
It was on the INS Godawari, the first Indian warship to visit the US, that we caught a whiff of missing sailors—the story of Indian sailors deserting the ship, perhaps for the first and the last time in the Indian Navy, was flashed around the world.
The highs, and the excitement of reporting on the Dotbuster tragedies that struck New Jersey in the mid-1980′s, were replaced with the requirements of a desk job in Chandigarh when I joined The Tribune in 1991.
Inevitably the first few feature stories that I did for The Tribune, like “Baisakhi on Broadway”, drew on the American experience. Swaraj Chauhan, the Assistant Editor in charge, made sure that I contributed to the Saturday supplement he oversaw and of which I was the sole worker bee.
Middles came in handy to write since they also allowed for thinly-disguised political comment and satire. I have also interviewed people, written articles on historical personalities I could in no way interview, opinion pieces and editorials.
Computers and information technology were unfamiliar territory when I started writing about them. In 1991, the first article was published. A column called Computer Chat followed and it naturally morphed into the Log in…Tribune — the first IT supplement of its kind in any Indian newspaper. Starting in 2000, it carried through to 2004.
Though I spearheaded the effort, the responsibility for informing and educatiing the public about IT rested on a team of very talented colleagues who produced some of the finest articles and columns on IT for this supplement. Log in…Tribune happily exploited the strength of the Internet Edition of The Tribune which has been online since 1998 and is regarded as one of the finest newspaper websites. We the Internet Edition team are immensely proud of our website. You can read more about my interest in IT by clicking here
I have served under a series of brilliant editors and the one thing they all have in common is that they know how to get you to really make you work, think and be creative! Some of what I have written is reproduced for your amusement, information and hopefully, pleasure. If you like something, do tell me about it, if you don’t please do so also, politely!