Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Finally on Track !

Having written hardcore business stories for months together, it was very awkward to start writing on crime, legal cases and civic issues for first few weeks. I used to be at loss of words while writing stories for my newspaper. Sometimes I kept thinking about the intro or text for hours and hours. I somehow managed to write few Tsunami stories with the help of some media friends.

But, it was tough handling crime and court stories with no one around to guide me. Things were all the more tough but very exciting as I had to cover one of the most prestigious legal cases related to a royal family. Two brothers were at loggerheads over property worth thousands of crores and it was a two-decade old legal battle that had dragged on and on. The elder sibling had won the case in the apex court in 2005.

I spent hours with the advocates just to know every minute detail about the case before writing about it. I still possess a thick file comprising of legal papers and documents of the battle with me till date. The efforts I put in were worth it as I got several national by-lines for the royal property battle stories.

It was as if everything was falling in place for me. Weeks within my joining the newspaper, the southern Gujarat districts had suddenly become too much happening. Suicides, accidents, court cases, crime incidents and political programmes! My hands were full with stories and I had options to choose the best… :) While rising crime incidents is a bad sign for the society, it gives such a pleasure to journos. Strange na? I grabbed the opportunity with both hands and started delivering the goods.

My first national story was about a strange accident in Surat wherein an entire family died inside a pit dug outside their house. While first it had appeared to be a murder, later it turned out to be death owing to asphyxiation. The family had stored lots of chillies and preservation powder inside the pit for preparing pickles. The younger son of the family entered inside the pit to see whether the chillies were ready for making pickle. He fell unconscious on the spot.

He was followed by his elder brother, father and mother, who all fell unconscious owing to the gases emanated from the chillies. It made an interesting story to read. I followed the story for about a week, before moving over to my next subject. Here, I would like to mention that I had great support of the local Gujarati journos who sat just few metres away from me. Our English newspaper had tie-up with this Gujarati paper for news and office space.

It was fun sitting in my small cabin till late in the night and joking around in the office. After 7 pm everyday, it was a male bastion as all females used to leave by evening. The Gujju journos used to shout at the top of their voices and even used choicest of abuses. Strangely, I loved the buzz around and sometimes I used to join them for fun. I used to rely on them and few friends of mine in Surat for the news from southern districts.

Mincing on the bhajiyas and vada-pav late in the night and sipping on hot cuppa of tea was something I enjoyed. Slowly but surely, I had started settling in the exciting world of news where every day is a new day. However big story you break and gather appreciation from all quarters, the next day you are as good as a fresh journo scouting for new story. I would now share some of my experiences in on-field reporting and how they changed me as a person…