Thursday, 27 November, 2008

C’est La Vie:

It’s been a while, but blogging would require doing what I have been constantly doing and loathe doing now, typing away on Microsoft Word.

The life of an intern: overworked, unpaid, embarrassing, unquestioning.

It has been a complicated month and since I’m in no mood to write a balanced or subtle narrative, a disclaimer is due I think. Disclaimer: This post does not pretend to be anything at all. It is written just as things are, hence C’est la vie!

Hobnobbing with top celebs, attending fashion shows, tasting exquisite Belgian chocolates and having wine sent home; my friends looked murderously at me every time I wanted to complain, hence you, my dear readers, will have to bear the brunt of it.

First of all there is nothing like a celebrity to make you feel insignificant. Those who don't hate us,condescend us, often with good reason. ‘Kaisa lagta hai aapko” is still the most oft asked question and the hoard of sycophant reporters make you puke as they fawn over stars. Fashion shows are extremely scary when it is your first. My only exposure to the Page 3 world being the damned film, I was lost in a sequined sea of those almost famous, not being able to match any of the names to the faces and in constant fear of missing out on an insignificant utterance that could be manufactured into a quote. Thankfully, two enthusiastic boys supplied names of the models, looking pityingly at me in the brief intervals the ramp was empty, but even they could not help with deciphering the fashion trends to someone who hasn’t embraced anything trendier than regular blue jeans. As free booze beckoned, I succumbed; drowning my miseries in glass after glass of Chivas Regal (yesh freeloaders, I know) and this is what my notes looked like next morning.

1) Green…. brown stick-dance

2) Cocktail dresses? Headbands and big glares

3) Deepanita shaw? Sharma . check… Candice Pinto… Jesse what?

4) Rakshanda Khan?

5) Yellow… black…risqué

6) Skipping ropes…..

7) Retro or Traditional bridal wear?

8) Virginal bride kinda stuff, white.

Pray how does one write a fashion piece in half an hour with this? Your enterprising journalist wrote a confident piece on Hemant Trivedi’s fashion fiesta with all the correct nomenclature. Yes I did not know who Hemant Trivedi was either. Thank the powers that be for this wonderful thing called press release. That was how most of the articles made the deadline. Skim wikipedia, write a four line intro and fill the rest in with quotes, quotes and more quotes.

If you are disgusted by this sort of slap dash reporting, so am I. But don’t blame the lay reporter for the crap you see in newspapers. What is one to do when one is told to submit about six articles in four days on topics varying from the price of gold to karvachauth fashion, astronomy Olympiads, art exhibitions and NGO fairs? Let me not even begin on how at a moments notice we travel far and wide on trusty two wheelers around the congested city paying for our own fuel, ending up at events and interviews looking like bedraggled cats.

At least you get the bylines, said co-interns! Right! That is the most embarrassing part, having an already mediocre piece edited by co-workers who think Sidney Sheldon is the epitome of English literature (no kidding) being printed with my name on it, for the rest of the sane world to wake up to every morning is definitely NOT a perk.

A story on blind career women was shot down as being too serious instead I had the supremely important task of calling Pesi Shroff to ask what his wife might be wearing for the Derby. The life of an intern is to do or die, and not to ask why. I am not trying to make some sort of pseudo- intellectual statement here by saying writing tear-jerkers about the poor, maimed, wronged is the only thing to be taken seriously in journalism. Features are not less important than news. Newsweek; the highly acclaimed international magazine edited by Fareed Zakaria carries wonderful feature stories. My problem is that features are NOT to be treated as reporting where you write a story everyday. RESEARCH material, take a little time to THINK and write something original about the very topics that I have mentioned above. Unfortunately filling pages comes first even if they are filled with recounting Mughda Godse’s last delicious meal. Of course you may get lucky and have loads of advertisements, so your story won’t be needed after all.

So why do we do it? I don’t know yet, Id like to say it is only because journalists like Jacques Pauw

still inspire me, because the flip side is I also get to hobnob with traffic cops and rickshaw drivers, with confident, articulate blind girls, with 14 year old kids who enjoy solving physics problems for 13 hours a day and hold their own in a conversation with established Astronomers, because an 18yr old migrant from Bengal working 12 hours a day everyday for a pittance got a bonus after an article, because all these people add so much variety and colour and have so many stories to tell. But these are rehearsed answers,which sound nice. At the end of it all the answer would be what a dear friend told me consolingly “We do what we do because that’s what we do.”

p.s. (I realize it is an insanely long post for someone who is supposedly sick of writing!)


Scribblers Inc said...

WOAH! Back with a bang gets a new definition I see! And you are a P3 reporter??Where!

Scribblers Inc.

P.S.- WHATS UP! Thanks for the tip on Eirann...totally awesome! :D

Nomad said...

Features!! not P3!!! Sigh... why bother, it's all a haze.

raj said...

chin up! :)
loved the post though!!!
jaded? no.... weary.