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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

13 Until I Die! [Chapter 2: Three Men Army]

New Delhi, September 12, 2000 (UNI) MALARIA TOLL TOUCHES 2000 IN THE CAPITAL - my 13th breaking story was on the cover of every paper. I had stepped into the third month at UNI.

The news agency quickly processed my papers to staff reporter's after another written test on general knowledge and an interview. I never found time to read their 82-page ‘annexe on rule, regulations, policy and benefits’. It was deposited at the friendly guard at the YWCA working women’s hostel’s gate, while running for an assignment, and never collected.

The UNI Headquarters, my first work place
Not even 20, my first ‘break’ thus happened while still studying journalism at the Centre for Mass Media (YMCA, Jai Singh Marg, near Janpath).

Dee Paul’s at Janpath served the most important meal of the day – the cold coffee at 3pm [my tall glass of happy sighs!] – right after work and before class. Coffee time was spent mostly with classmates. The job was envied. Envy has this incredible power of making people invisible. It was the first time I got used to my invisible self. I became 'visible' a few years later [and I am guessing by then 'they' were tired of gaping at the void.]

I thank Ramesh Menon sir (guest lecturer on creative writing) for deconstructing my thoughts in ways no other teacher did. I also thank Samuel Baid sir, a senior Indo-Pak journalist (then Director of the Centre for Mass Media), who often reminded me 'to never settle down to just finding some stories for someone'.

Baid sir wanted me to be a cartoonist - 'the first female newspaper cartoonist'. He always felt the loss of being a busy journalist and mentioned that there was no one who pushed him to take his hobby of cartooning seriously. Whenever I paused by his office to greet, he tapped on my cartoons (a scrapbook on pocket cartoons kept on his table) and called my attention to it. Those were probably the first taps on visual comprehension.

In Baid sir's words - ‘there are so many Shobha Des, but how many Ajit Nainans or Laxmans, R D’. When I think of Baid sir, an old saying comes to mind : If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else - Booker T. Washington.

Baid sir sent R D to his friend N K Ranga, a senior cartoonist [the hand that drew Gandhiji with a single stroke on Doordarshan – remember? - check YouTube], for some serious reflection.

to be continued…

General disclaimer: Any resemblance to persons living, dead, or reincarnated is not a coincidence. No animals were injured during the making of this novelog although some monkeys may have their feelings hurt. Sorry.


Recap:












Sunday, 24 June 2012

13 Until I Die! [Chapter 1: Maneka Gandhi and the Indian Peacock]

Serious journalism took a backseat after I came to Dubai in 2006. Partying hard after work was ok! [but looking for my pictures on party pages not so!]. The UAE's long ‘to-do list' [mostly defining ‘what not-to-do’] failed to impress me or my career graph … I wanted to be a hardcore journo when I started working in Dilli…

In early 2000 trainee reporters were called ‘cubs’ [this sentence makes me feel ancient]. It was an exciting start with United News of India (UNI), the oldest news agency in the continent [if no one else is claiming it now!].

Call it good luck, my first assignment got me my first ‘breaking news’.

It was a press meet by animal lovers at the WWF (World Wild Fund) - hosted by animal rights activist Maneka Gandhi. The speech was scheduled on a sleepy weekend at India Habitat Centre. [Googled to trace the date – couldn’t find. Online media was not popular those days.]

It had all the usual suspects from the media [worried - if Gandhi would keep the evening 'dry' as usual]. I was trying hard to ignore the Editor of The Sun (a Nigerian newspaper) seated right beside me. His bright smile [like a white moon rising and drowning into the night sky] was baffling me. Especially because he handed over a note to me ‘You are as pretty as an Indian peacock!’ (along with a spectacled smiley face). I looked up and spotted the spectacle. The Editor of The Punch (another Nigerian newspaper) necked out from behind ‘The Sun’ and I saw the moon rise and fall again – yet another spectacle.

[And I always thought peacock was male!]

I got the scoop anyway. It was hidden in the last para of Gandhi’s extempore. [By then most of my other colleagues had hurried to the buffet tables to yap-yap on better things.] To my delight, and my news editor's, my find was a front page runner.

HORSE WHIPPING BANNED IN INDIA. [UNI wires its news in all caps even today].


Next day I met him. Everyone remembered the story of the 15-year old Karmapa who in a Bollywood-type escape reached Dharamsala after crossing the highest Himalayan passes in the midst of the winter and the hesitations of the Indian government to grant him refugee status. At that time, many believed that he had been 'planted' by the Chinese to create confusion in Sikkim.  But good news came for the Tibetans as Kalon Tashi Wangdi, the minister of religion and cultural affairs in the Central Tibetan Administration announced to the press in Dharamsala that he had received word: "The Government of India has formally communicated to us that the XVII Gyalwa Karmapa Ugyen Thinley Dorji has been granted refugee status in India." Thus, Karmapa was meeting press in Delhi tomorrow.


to be continued…

General disclaimer: Any resemblance to persons living, dead, or reincarnated is not a coincidence. No animals were injured during the making of this novelog although some monkeys may have their feelings hurt. Sorry.


Recap:












Wednesday, 20 June 2012

13 Until I Die! [Preface]

This novelog is dedicated to the previous 13 years spent wondering [at life, work and everything in between]. Though I am a decade and more away from that magical age, I do feel like a 13-year-old when I am left all by myself - to explore and unwind while doing that. [Mother says that I haven’t even grown an inch taller since 13 – probably she means only physical height!]

Don’t I feel the loss of a career I loved so much? Asked a few colleagues spilling their fears. Almost everyone was kind enough to congratulate me for having chosen my passion [or the decision to embrace the freedom to be just blu] over 13 years of full time journalism.

Call it an elephantine coincidence. 13 is the coolest number in my life. I was 13 when I met MF Husain [India’s most popular artist who called me ‘little Van Gogh’].

13 years of learning in mass communication was wonder-full. [The first half was damn exciting and the second half spent looking at whatever the hell!].

As I embrace the new freedom I would like to thank my professor and mentor in journalism Ramesh Menon to have said this when I told him about leaving the paper:

“That is great! Only the courageous can do something like this. I am glad that you have the guts to do this and I promise you that it will liberate you like nothing you ever experienced before. You will wonder why you never did it before. Being independent is very tough. There is no cheque coming in at the end of the month, your earnings will fall, but you will live life the way no other colleague of yours can and will.

Celebrate your independence and liberty. Do not compare your earnings with your last pay check. You will be very happy if you do this. And ignore what others say about this move as they do not understand that security and money is not everything."

moi!


to be continued… [in 13 mini chapters ahead]

General disclaimer: Any resemblance to persons living, dead, or reincarnated is not a coincidence. No animals were injured during the making of this novelog although some monkeys may have their feelings hurt. Sorry.




















Want blu hair?

The secret to my long hair is plainly laziness - but no one believes me in Dubai.

'You must be using coconut oil. You guys from Kerala have such nice hair. Even Bengalis have. Is it the rice and fish? [not for me!] Is it in the mustard seeds or the curry leaf? [not really!]'

I haven’t chopped my mane to follow the trends for a long time now. Though I should attend to them a bit more, I am asked by many friends on my hair routine [secrets!]. I did not inherit the good-hair gene from my mother [all my sisters have]. I have them long only cos I am lazy to go and sit in a hair saloon that stinks of hair-care chemicals [I prefer the spas ;)].

Here is what I believe and the little I do when it comes to hair care.

I think oiling regularly is a good habit though it only helps with outer protection. [The hair you have is probably what you save 'from falling';)]. I practice brushing mine only once a day [just before bedtime] - into the washbasin so that I know if the scalp is turning dry or if I am losing more hair [remember 50 follicles lost a day is normal/healthy... more than this means time to take ‘more’ care]. When I spot more than usual hair fall I remind myself to eat more greens [spinach sauted in ghee is good for hair - says grand mother] and supplement nutrients [folic acid and vitamin E tabs - known to help grow thicker hair and better quality nails too]. Its good to follow what I know or remind myself... but then as you know am a bit lazy!

You can use the hair oil recipe that my folks [mother and grandmother] use back home - a mixture of castor oil + coconut oil + olive oil [need to heat 4 spoons of each in a pan with a sprig of curry leaves, few pieces of dry amla/gooseberry, 1tsp of whole black pepper]. Store in a bottle. Use this once in 2-3 days and leave it on for 20 mins and wash it with a mild shampoo [repeat shampoo only the next day if you need to get rid of the excess oil]. The mixture stays/lasts for 2 weeks [for me]. My shampoo comes from India - Khadigram Udyog's Sathritha - it’s a cottage industry product sans chemicals. [You can use organic shampoos by Origins or Loccitanne - they are good and easy to find here]

If you want to try an ayurvedic oil from south India - get one from Kottaykkal Ayurvaidyasala [near Al Rafa Police Station in Bur Dubai] – you can use their ‘Neelibringadi Keram’ – it is dark [doesn’t smell great! and stains your towel as well as pillow case]. I don’t use it [mother does and she has better hair]. If you do buy this oil, also get ‘rasnadi podi’ [a pinch of it] - a powder that you can rub on your crown after bath to avoid catching cold [cos this oil can bring down your body temp, they say]. I use this 'podi' anyway cos I love its earthy scent.

If someone is travelling to/from India [and asking u 'if you need anything from india?'] ask for a can of Biotique’s ‘Bio Root’ – it is a hair mask [priced around 1k INR if I am not wrong] – especially useful for dry scalp. But you don’t need to use it like a mask and finish the can in 2 uses. Just take a tbsp of it and dilute it a bit to help spread better… rub it into scalp once a week [for me weekend] and wash off after 20 mins [save and use longer ;)].

Make sure you have a carbon filter fixed to your bath hand shower [that reminds me that my filter is broken!]. Please! use a cap when you go for a swim [even though water seeps in through the nape of the neck its worth having some protection from the chlorine].

And yes it’s only common sense that poor nutrition together with ac accelerate the loss of moisture from scalp and hair resulting in further hair fall - so take care in Dubai or else where in ac-ied [read harsh] circumstances. [I keep my hair tied up most of the time into a non-glamorous bun to prevent excess drying].

Comb your hair into the washbasin and count them today. Follow the bluvian treatment for a month and comb again to take a recount.

[And do let me know if your hair turns blu!] ;)

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Some colours sing you into doing what you must…

Recently I sent out an important mail with one of my new works [scroll down to see Ra Ra Sakura_29x42cm_acrylic on art paper] to few of my close people that include friends/long-time associates at work/within industry. The mail read like this: [few lines added/deleted/modified as per the bond I share with each important person]

"I wish to inform you ‘formally and personally’ that I have decided to quit the paper and be just blu :)

Looking forward to being a full time artist and a part time independent journalist/blogger. Networking at the moment – exploring my options – and very happy doing that!


July 1 is my last day at Gulf News. It’s my 7th year on duty at GN as I write this email. A bit emotional about leaving my team but happy that I have finally decided to let this happen. I had to.


Thank you so much for being there. If you wish to get in touch with me please send a mail to archanard@gmail.com”


Love and hugs
blu
www.bluartgallery.com
+971 50 3808699

I sent this out first to my favourite professor from my post graduate days - Ramesh Menon. Menon sir is a popular journalist/columnist and a wonderful person who I turn to when I feel stuck in life/career/both! As always he replied immediately… this time it was an enormously empowering mail that removed all traces of guilt /fear that refused to leave my mind even after gearing up to this over the years.

I wish to share those amazing words [not something that I usually do - i.e. share email content on my blog] here for everyone because he said it really so well.

“That is great! Only the courageous can do something like this. I am glad that you have the guts to do this and I promise you that it will liberate you like nothing you ever experienced before. You will wonder why you never did it before. Being independent is very tough. There is no cheque coming in at the end of the month, your earnings will fall, but you will live life the way no other colleague of yours can and will.

Celebrate your independence and liberty. Do not compare your earnings with your last pay check. You will be very happy if you do this. And ignore what others say about this move as they do not understand that security and money is not everything.


Live life like you want in a few days.”

I feel great to be alive and to have come across some wonderful people like Menon sir who complete, complement and empower my life – that otherwise is a blank canvas [gathering dust at a forsaken corner!].

I thank everyone who has bothered to be kind and wonderful to me. There are few things I feel make our short lives worth the while. Kindness is the first one in that list. I want to be kinder - let's see.

[Something wrong with the net today am unable to upload the painting here... will 'try again later' just like the browser asks me to! Need to be more patient and kind as they say...]