I had just finished my B.Sc. I wanted to try for a seat for M.Sc at the University of Pune. Unfortunately the seats were limited, and I was not as good as the others who tried that year. I was at a loss of what to do further. The future seemed bleak.
The newspaper carried an advertisement for a course in Journalism. I thought I would give it a try. People at home were certain I would not make it. Not one who was never interested in the news, never read the newspaper etc. Not one whose general knowledge did not extend beyond the area in which she lived.
Anyway, I decided to take the entrance test. I did not have anything to lose. Believe me, this is the best position to be in. It makes one take risks one would otherwise hesitate to take.
Next day I went for the test. There were objective questions and multiple choice questions. There was a question "Who was the Frontier Gandhi"? Search me. I was aware of only Mahatma Gandhi. Although I had heard of Frontier Gandhi, I had no clue who it was. For some reason a voice whispered in my head "Say Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan". I thought I would once listen to someone. Anyone reading it would be unknown to me, so I had the immunity of anonymity, so who cared if it were right or wrong.
After I went home, I faced another Spanish inquisition about what questions were asked. When I came to Frontier Gandhi, there were curious looks and I was asked "and, what did you write"? Imagine my relief when I found out that my thukka was right. Next day there was a list of candidates who could attend a viva.
I was there early enough to check out the list and imagine my surprise to see my name on the list. One of my classmates who had done her Microbiology was there (although she had got admission for M.Sc.). What a waste I had thought. Anyway. I went for the interview. It went this way:
(I = Interviewer S = Satchi)
I: What have you studied?
S: I have done my B.Sc in Microbiology.
I: Then why do you want to do Journalism?
S: I did not get admission for M.Sc and thought this would be something that would interest me.
I: What newspapers do you read?
S: Indian Express and Poona Herald.
I: Poona Herald?
S: Sorry, Maharashtra Herald. (The name had been changed a few months before that).
I: Then why did you say Poona Herald?
S: Force of habit. Old habits die hard.
I: OK. How many columns does the paper have?
S: I read the paper. I did not count the number of columns.
I: So what do you read?
S: I read who died, who murdered whom, Mandrake the Magician and Mickey Mouse.
I looks like he wants to leave the room and take in some fresh air (or at least I think so).
I went home and was again faced an inquisition. When they heard what all I had answered, all hell broke loose and I was told I could forget any hope of getting on the course.
Next day I went to look for the results. You could have knocked me down with a feather when I found my name on the list of people selected. My friend was also selected and I was happy, I would have my close friend with me in this course.
The course started. I went to class and took my seat. The first lecturer walked in. He was the editor of a very reputed Marathi newspaper. (He was also the one who had interviewed me).
The first thing he did was look around the class and said "My God, this class is full of girls. I do not feel inspired at all when I have to teach girls, because you will do the course, quit and get married". I was shocked.
After the class was over, there were 5 minutes for the next lecturer to arrive. I thought over my course of action. I could not bring myself to learn anything under such an MCS. My mind was made up. I went straight back home and decided I did not want to be a student to this kind of a teacher. My friend later on told me that they had made him eat his words packed in newspaper covered with printers' ink.
Well, I could say "My Loss". But that is in retrospect. May be I was never destined to be a journalist. My name is not Barkha Dutt. May be it could have been Geetanjali Aiyer.
P.S. My friend finished her journalism, did her B.Ed and has been teaching in a school for the last 25 years.
Life brings with a plethora of experiences, each with a flavour of its own. I wish to share with all my readers these various experiences and observations that I have made during my time here on this planet. They may be funny, thought-provoking or simple reflections. I do hope you will find these enjoyable and interesting.