Sunday, September 13, 2015

Birthday Musings

The birthday greetings especially in an era of social networking and powerful tool Facebook would leave any individual moved. The greetings came in from all corners – including from across the border in Pakistan. The occasion, otherwise very normal in a very ordinary career and life, became momentous. Thus a big Thank You to all!!

Parents, daughter Tinni among others
On such occasions, one also feels like looking back. I look back in gratitude to my parents and some individuals – friends, teachers and professional colleagues. I have stated earlier in these blogs, hundreds of people have helped me build my life and career. They are of course, not responsible in any way, for the person and journalist I have turned out to be, particularly for the negative straits. 

With parents, my life largely remained formal and it was only with my brother Nirmal Kumar Deb that I could open up. It was he, who first knew about my first love – Journalism and he would reciprocate in awful voice – ‘Jis rah chuni tuni us raste pe chalta jana rey…

But the charismatic Naga lady Chipeni Merry is one exception who should get some credit for little of what I have achieved for myself. She was always a good-humuored soul ready to befriend. Our friendship just clicked, something that would defy definitions and reasons. 
A class mate of my English lecturer, Chipeni Merry has been the best of the lot. On one occasion I confided in her about my parental pressure and that I was planning to quit Nagaland; she immediately screamed that I was wrong. Journalism for a non-Naga in Nagaland was a risky game in 1990s. 
Chipeni promised me that I should not fear anything or anybody. That I would be constantly tailed by her. 
Birthday Boy!!
But once she realized I should move out, Chipeni would scream rudely, “You rot here”. Not surprisingly, when I had to rush to Delhi from Kohima for interview with PTI on a very short notice, it was she yet again who handed over Rs 5000 to her cash-starved friend. 
One can never repay such friends!
If I am over stating over my stay in Nagaland; I must add here: it’s been a wonderful experience to be brought up in north east – Nagas, Mizos (three years) and Khasis and Garos in Meghalaya in adolescent period. 
These brought a change in mind that at later period, my father would taunt me, “you think like a Naga”.

As I often felt and even dreamt like a Naga, I developed a liking for them – the way they look at things! The food – pork with bamboo shoot.
But it goes without saying that the veiled influence of Bengali middle class and conservative parents and an indulgent grand mom too shaped my value system and thoughts.
Then came in journalism – more as an accident and an accidental love – aftermath my failure with initial flirtation with science.
A true friend: Chipeni - Chips in the centre

Journalism gave me some wings. I found it different. 
Here I was exposed to more than the normal quote of philosophy or moral teachings of a conservative Bengali family!!
Journalism enhanced my confidence- the bedrock of which was laid at Springdale School, Lunglei (a border town in remote Mizoram) --- where I befriended Mizo damsels like Evelin and Zoramthangi. Then came St Anthony’s High School, Shillong, also a new experience staying away from parents.

I have seen the FUN days of journalism.
But as most of you know, journalism too is like a stream where our very society is the source. As is the source, so will be the stream! We have black sheep, and more so in the post-liberalism era. Sadly, I often wonder - Does this post-liberalism era have a direct connection with materialistic richness and greed? 
Shillong's Don Bosco Square: Alma mater St Anthony's

But instability has hit the Indian print journalism today especially in Delhi, whom I once affectionately designated as the 'Mecca of Indian journalism'. Whenever we friends meet after 2-3 months in Lutyen’s city these days, the obvious question is, “where are you working these days….are you still there”. 

The biggest crisis in journalism comes from New Delhi’s malady of projecting and protecting the protégés. The self-seeking politics of less meritorious does wonders in Indian journalism today.

Hence, a humble birthday wish: THINGS SHOULD CHANGE in Indian journalism. It should get back its NOBILITY!!

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