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Monday, May 21, 2018

Flashback 2004: Hindi Journalism for me

In the days before TV news turned into shouting matches, Zee News was a respectable place for Hindi journalism. I love the language and all through school aced in Hindi (making my Bihar-born parents very proud). In the summer break between the first and second year of the university, I thought an internship with a Hindi media powerhouse would be the perfect launchpad for my career in journalism. I applied and was called for my first-ever job interview. Nervous, I entered the room, where they asked me to answer a paper in Hindi: some questions on current affairs. Having studied science through college, I hadn't had the chance to read or write much Hindi so I struggled with technical words related to policy and medicine. I knew I had blown it by the time I finished and turned in my answer sheet so I was very surprised when I got a call next day to come for an interview. Later in the day, I sat opposite three panelists who commended my ICSE scores and then expressed their surprise that in spite of being Bengali, I knew Hindi. The lady in the middle kept interrupting my conversation by calling people on her phone: the sabziwala, driver, assistant, etc. I started shaking with nervousness. She didn't pay attention to anything I said and after about 10 minutes picked up my paper and said, "You don't even know the Hindi terms for 'operation' and 'mandate' and you think you want to do Hindi journalism?" I left defeated in spirit. Next I went to Asian Age where Olga Tellis was more than happy to hear that a South Bombay kid knew the names of Mumbai's eastern suburbs and took me on with half a dozen interns. Over the years, I realised that a half-baked knowledge of English and street-smartness had more chances of getting you a job with the English media in this country than getting into the vernacular with the same skill set. And then suddenly, I started reading English font in Hindi media and words like 'operation' and 'mandate' were sprinkled liberally in Devnagari and spoken by anchors during Hindi news bulletins.

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