For reporters, 2017 has been an eventful year. From the ones that are fearsome to the ones that are hilarious, the experiences that they had on various occasions are varied. Here are a few such instances that The New Indian Express reporters from all over the state shared.
Arrested in East Africa?
On getting information about the arrest of 11 tribals from a Hakki Pikki camp of Shivamogga taluk, in Rwanda, an East African country, I rushed to the village along with our photographer, assuming that the family of the 11 arrested would be distraught and hoping to get support from the Central government to press for the release of their loved ones. Sadashivapura village is situated about 15 km from Shivamogga. Hakki Pikki tribals are vagabonds and were rehabilitated by the state government here. When we entered this tiny village and enquired with a petty shopkeeper where the house of Mr Tata Babu — whose son and daughter-in-law were arrested in Rwanda — was, the shopkeeper showed us the way. When we saw the house locked, we enquired with Nasik babu, a neighbour of Tata Babu, regarding the arrest of the 11 people. Nasik Babu said that his son and daughter-in-law too were part of the 11 arrested. When I asked whether any efforts were being made to get them released, Nasik Babu’s reply was cool: “Naanu eradu tingala hinde Burundi ge hogidde innu entu janara jothe. Alli nammannu arrest madidru.., aamele release madi.., direct aagi flight hattisi Mumbai ge kalisidaru. Idenu hosadalla.., pratiyondu batch nallu heege agutte.” (“Two months ago, I had been to Burundi along with eight others. We too were arrested by the local police there. With the intervention of High Commission, we were put on a direct flight to Mumbai. This is nothing new. Every batch that goes to East African countries have faced arrests by the local police.”) The replies of kith and kin of seven others who were arrested, too, was the same. I was shocked that they hardly bothered about it. They were confident that the local police would release them and that they would board a flight directly to Mumbai and return home.
—Ramachandra V Gunari
When a turtle got my goat…uh…toe!
I never knew that mild-looking amphibians can be vicious.
At Malleswaram’s Nandi Tirtha Temple, while reporting on its history, I was standing near the temple pond. The temple is famous for its fish and turtles. I was engrossed in taking pictures of the temple which is over a 100 years old, when I felt a sharp bite on my foot.
I looked down to see what had caused me so much pain, only to discover that a turtle had got my toe!
—K Shriya Sharma
Post-mortem and a zombie state of mind
To get details a reporter needs to do a bit of leg work. This one, however, took me to a place that I least expected. It was a hectic day. I was trying to get details about a forensic science test that was conducted in a case earlier this year. For this, it required me to meet a doctor at Victoria Hospital. The mortuary is located close to the Forensic Science department where I had to go to get details. Just as I entered, the guard stopped me and asked who I wished to meet. On mentioning the name of the person I wanted to meet, the guard said, “He’s in the next room,” and left. Not knowing where I was heading, I entered a room only to suddenly realise that I had stumbled upon a post-mortem examination that was in progress — an experience that I have never had. “What do you want?” asked a staffer at the mortuary in a composed manner. But I could barely get words out of my mouth while seeing a post-mortem examination being conducted right in front of my eyes. In that moment, I completely forgot what I was there for, and walked out to return to office like a zombie.
Women, their worst enemies?
History may have shown that it is the men who always suppressed women. But there are several instances wherein a woman turns out to be another’s worst enemy. When Saritha (name changed), a female sex worker, approached an officer of a public sector bank for a loan of `50,000 under the Mudra scheme, she was directed to the Assistant General Manager. The AGM had curtly declared that if loans were to be released to women like her, they would have to shut down the bank itself. The AGM showed no emotion even while being taken to task by RBI AGM at the 165th district consultative committee meeting held in March. Ironically, the officer and the AGM who received the application were women themselves. And the public sector bank’s chairman was also a woman.
Dreams are cut out for real
The Tulu film industry is shining now as more number of films are being released every month in Coastalwood. After noticing the back-to-back hit films in Tulu film industry, a person who was keen on acting in Tulu films approached a film director and pleaded with him to offer him a role. When he mounted pressure, one of the film directors promised to give him a role in his film. When the shooting began, he was eagerly waiting for his turn. Finally, the director called him for the film shooting on a particular day. Though initially he was disappointed with his role as it was a very small one, he was happy as his image was displayed on the film wall-poster. He uploaded the same wall-poster on social media with a touchy caption “My dream has come true”. But his happiness was short-lived. When the film was released, he did not figure anywhere in it!
On a wild owl chase…
Being out in the field teaches you many things. While standard skills like how to kill time while waiting for officers and honing your memory skills to be at par for the course, every once in a while, reporters get to learn new skills on the job. Recently, I got a call from a friend who said there was an owl trapped in a Metro station and it was going to get rescued soon. Out of curiosity, I rushed to the station to see if I could get a few nice pictures (maybe even a story). However, over the next few hours, seven people, (four Metro staff, two volunteers and a hapless reporter), scurried from one end of the station to the other trying to catch a sprightly young owl. By late afternoon, I was forced to give up my dreams of becoming an animal rescue volunteer and return to office, while the owl continued to lead the others on a merry chase. But, I returned with the knowledge of various ways of rescuing a trapped bird.
A dinner-for-story deal? Nah…!
It was a dull day at work and I was scheduled to attend only one press conference. But I was hunting for something more. So I decided to meet a senior (now retired) IAS officers who was additional chief secretary and called him to know if he was free. The moment I called, he said, “The last time you called, but did not come to meet me. This time, no cheating! Come at 3pm!” I revealed to a friend how this particular officer speaks to me and that I wasn’t comfortable. As he was a well-known and a senior officer, my friend did not believe me and decided to come with me to see for herself. Finally, we reached his office at 3pm. The moment we entered, he said, “Oh you are both here.” And when I asked for a story, he told my friend, “See madam, this Rashmi always comes in the afternoon. If she comes at dinner time I can give her better stories!” In absolute shock and embarrassment, we just said “bye-bye” and left his chamber.
Between a rock and fireplace
It was an inter-religious gathering for a good cause. Various religious leaders had joined in for the programme to provide food to children. And before the programme began, there was a small ‘bhoomi puja’. The bishop of the diocese reached just at that time, and it portrayed a true sense of religious harmony. Well, that was the feeling…until a few younger priests present there suddenly noticed that the Bishop hadn’t removed his shoes. And all they could do was only shuffle restlessly wondering how to get the Bishop to remove his shoes while the ‘bhoomi puja’ was going on.
—Pearl Maria D’Souza
No MRP liquor shop is a grievance too, Mr DC
The Mysuru district administration had organised a phone-in programme wherein the public had an opportunity to share their grievances with Deputy Commissioner D Randeep. This was the first phone-in programme of Randeep since he took charge. There were a total of 22 calls and people shared their grievances and requested the DC to look into the matter. But there was one call which stunned everybody and even made the DC laugh out loud. The caller was one Sarvakrishna from Saragur village of H D Kote taluk. His request — he wanted an MRP liquor outlet in his village. “The bars in our village are charging too much for liquor. If this continues, how can poor people live?” he asked the DC. Sarvakrishna and four of his friends even conducted a press conference two months ago demanding that the district administration open an MRP liquor outlet in their village. Although we laughed at that moment, we (including journalists and officials) later felt that too would actually qualify as a grievance which needed attention!
—Pavan M V
Caught in a spot… by my parents
Reporters covering the Income Tax raids on the premises of Energy Minister
D K Shivakumar used to have long hours. It was for days on end that we had to stand in front of his house, hoping for some update from the sleuths. After long, media personnel shifted camp to the I-T department office where he was being questioned. My aged parents, who stay in a small town 200km from Bengaluru, were not aware about what work I was assigned that day (they do not know that I have to go to the field to cover events and issues as a reporter). One day at the I-T office, when I intercepted D K Shivakumar to ask him a few questions, I was caught unawares by the TV cameras which had gone live even as I stood beside the minister. Coincidentally, my parents were watching the same TV channel back home…and they got frightened. In fact, they were so scared that they immediately called me to ask why I had been taken for questioning to the I-T department office along with Shivakumar. I had a tough time explaining them that I was there to cover the news and not to be questioned by the I-T sleuths!
—Kiran Parashar K M
Relying on rumours ruins things
You are never really prepared for what you may come across at an interview. Sometimes, even doing some homework and reading up about what has already appeared in the papers serves no purpose. This was a day when I had to interview Milind Soman. I went prepared to ask him why he has never been to a gym, as rumours had it. But the very first question fell flat because rumours had it wrong. He clarified that he was once a regular gym-goer but stopped after he fell in love with exercising outdoors. There was an awkward silence and then, thankfully, we fell into an easy chat.
‘Handi’ and ‘mandi’ go together
Outsiders visiting Raichur may feel squeamish seeing pigs sleeping in open drainages. For, most people living here don’t even mind drinking tea at a stall while pigs from the sewage rise and walk around the tea stall. Some, who believe it is because of the pigs that sanitation is better here, often say ‘mandi’ (people) cannot live without ‘handis’ (pigs). In the district headquarters the city municipal council (CMC) is clearing pigs to end their menace. But this is being done on the directives of the deputy commissioner though none from the general public ever protested demanding a pig-free Raichur. In another sense, people in Raichur are happy to live with the pigs that drench themselves in sewage and spread it all around the city. For whatever strange reason, people have this comfortable misconception that pigs clean garbage, while it is the people and the CMC which worsen it.
—Shreyas H S