Life lessons from interviews

Journalistic interviews can go from a casual conversation to light interrogation. And the vibe is as important as the questions. Are you pushy or an empathetic listener?
Martina Charles
Martina Charles

Delving into the lives of individuals from various backgrounds constantly shapes and broadens my perspective. Every interview, for me, is an opportunity to explore unique cultures, and, above all, experiences. The conversations inspire me to look beyond my vision and teach me the complexities and richness of human behaviour. However, each interview is different, and so are the learnings.

Samir Kochhar at Maasai Mara
Samir Kochhar at Maasai Mara

One of my favourite conversations was with actor and TV host Samir Kochhar, who recently launched a travel show. During the chat, Kochhar talked about his venture, his love for travel and, above all, the reason behind the show – to create offbeat travel. When I urged for an elaborate answer, I wasn’t expecting him to spill some harsh truths that would make me question the traveller I claim to be. Unknowingly, the actor classified me as a footprint traveller. “With social media, visiting places has come down to posting photos,” he said. I let that thought sink in. After the interview, I could not help but think how we have incorporated our on-the-go and hurried lifestyle into our vacations, which are supposed to be relaxing. In an attempt to tick off every possible destination, do we live in the moment?

Well, Kochhar wasn’t the only one who put my mind to work. Two artists of different age groups and mindsets taught me a common lesson—age is just a number. As clichéd as it sounds, the stories of teenager Martina Charles, a violin prodigy, and eco-artist Vishwanath Mallabadi, have inspired me to push the envelope. Martina from Thrissur is the youngest Indian at 14 and the first from Kerala to have completed eight grades in violin from Trinity College, London. While the milestones are noteworthy, I find Martina’s clarity of thought and confidence her biggest strengths. On the other hand, artist Vishwanath Mallabadi, at 61, is a one-man show. His dedication is inspiring.  During the interview, he mentioned, “My age never comes in the way of my ambitions, and my passion propels me to undertake unimaginable and extraordinary endeavours.”

Journalistic interviews can go from a casual conversation to light interrogation. And the vibe is as important as the questions. Are you pushy or an empathetic listener? The interviewee picks the vibe within the first few minutes, and it sort of sets the tone for the entire conversation. Interviewing is a skill and takes years to perfect, and I am still mastering this art, learning a little something with each interaction.

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