'Would you like to work here?' my associate editor asked me a year ago.
Today, marks my first birthday as a journalist. Boy, it's been a ride! I studied engineering but I am a journalist! I was scared, to be honest, when I decided to become a journalist. Will it work? Will I succeed? Will I get a job? But what scared me the most was to live to a life doing a job I hated. I'm so glad that I took the risk.
My job as a reporter for NewsToday, an English evening daily newspaper based in Chennai has offered me fantastic opportunities.
As a journalist, I've met hundreds of people, traveled across city. I had this perception that to be a journalist means to ask good questions. But its the other way around; To be a good journalist, means to be a good listener.
Everyone has a story to say. All wish to be in the lime light. It is the job of the journalist to only write about things that matter; people, culture, social issues.
I have been blessed by the opportunity to meet people with money, power and fame; celebrities, businessmen, entrepreneurs, politicians. I had this assumption that every celebrity is a bitch, rich, fame loving, arrogant individual. But I was wrong.
Deep down, they are just ordinary people doing extraordinary things. It's surprising to meet people with no money, pretending to be millionaires, while 'real millionaires' are so humble and decent. Such folks often credit luck or God's blessing as reason behind success.
I have also met unsung heroes; social activists, transgenders, budding creatives like writers, poets, singers, musicians, artists and so many more. When I ask them why they do what they do, almost all of them say, 'I can't think of doing anything else. I was born to do this.' I then ask myself, 'Was I born to write?'
Journalism has taught me to be tolerant, welcome opinions of people belonging to different faith. I once wrote an article on how Diwali is celebrated at temples across Mylapore. I remember having a conversation with a Hindu priest who explained me the rituals.
He asked my name.
His eyebrows cracked a surprise. 'Mohammed,' he said smiling. 'Its been a long time since we had person of other faith in our temple. Tell me boy, what is it like to be a muslim?'
I couldn't believe that I was talking about Islam, namaz and the Qur'an to this sweet old man inside a temple. He then spoke about his childhood muslim friends. When I was about to leave, he said, 'Assalam. Veetuku pathu poonga.' (Peace. Go home safe).
In the past one year, I have also learned that learning is a never ending game. Learning is beautiful. I believe that when you start treating your colleagues as friends, you're bound to build long lasting relationship. Give them the respect they deserve. Help them out. When you find yourself stuck in a sticky spot, ask for help. I've learned the importance of networking. It matters in this age of constant digital existence. I have even learned why investing money matters more than just saving.
I found solace in traveling solo. It is something everyone should do. Traveling alone makes me feel vulnerable, scared and powerful all at the same time. To travel is to not just seek peace at unexplored lands but also to learn how I react when everything I do goes south.
And most importantly, when things turn shit, I have accepted that it's okay to be sad. I rely on my family, friends (sometimes Swiggy, Amazon, Netflix or Hotstar) when work and life overwhelms me! :)
To have a good career means to be backed by good family support. And I just can't thank enough to my family; mamma, Haneef bhaiya and Sharu. They never questioned my decision to become a journalist. They have blessed me with hope and support.
In the end, this is perhaps the greatest wisdom I have grasped in the last one year; words have the power to make a difference. Trust me, I know.