View Point

Why you shouldn’t join Journalism too early

Please don’t join as a professional journalist immediately after college. Please pause to do a professional diploma or a Masters. Please allow me to tell you why.

I have a BA with Honours in English Literature from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata.

I joined as a full-time journalist at The Telegraph when I was in my third year of college.

Journalism was a booming industry even in 1999–2000 but I chose newspapers, as they were considered at the top of the news media food-chain.

I had a choice of going to Presidency University, Kolkata for my Masters but I decided against it since I always wanted to be a journalist and I wanted to seize the opportunity.

I told myself that this is what I should be doing next. Basically, my thoughts back then and your thoughts now, are exactly the same.

That I secured a position as a trainee reporter with one of the top newspapers in the country, further boosted my confidence and fanned my ego.

So, without any further ado, I dived headlong into a career of a journalism in the year 2000.I completed my traineeship in The Telegraph along with my graduation and was counted as one of the youngest (professional) journalists in the country at that time. However, the celebration was short-lived.

My career wasn’t exactly a fairy tale. Looking back, I feel it was a wrong decision.

Here are the negatives of becoming a journalist immediately after your graduation.

These 10 things happened to me next…

  1. I got a job ahead of most of my classmates who went on to do their Masters or professional PG courses. As a result, I always had money on me while they (my classmates) were still students and never seemed to have enough money in their pockets. They envied me and I enjoyed it.
  2. I couldn’t score well in my third year finals and lost my first class because I had ignored my studies in the final year (due to work pressure). I scored 58.8% in my final year (English Honours papers).
  3. I realised many years later on that a Masters is absolutely necessary at a senior level and I completed my MBA with great difficulty along with my job.
  4. By the time, my classmates started getting jobs, I was already an established journalist with a very decent salary. After joining Telegraph and staying there for one year, I had moved on to The Times of India (newspaper) as a senior journalist. Most of my friends were probationers and just weeks into their first jobs. I was still on top of the world.
  5. However, things started moving southwards soon. My classmates started earning double than me in less than three years (after the initial one year into their first jobs) because they were professionally trained in their respective fields, better equipped, had internship experiences while I was STILL learning on the job.
  6. I didn’t have any formal training in journalism, hence I made several ghastly mistakes early on in my career. I could have destroyed my own career, but thankfully I was clever enough to bounce back every time.
  7. There was nobody to help me — no mentors, no professors or no senior journalist to hold my hand. Journalism is actually a jungle where everybody eats up everybody to move forward. It’s a remorseless world.
  8. I became a senior journalist at the age of 23 but at every step I felt the need of a professional course which could have made my journey less painful. If I had done a professional PG course then I would have not faced so many obstacles. As a senior journalist (senior reporter) at 23 years, I couldn’t possibly leave everything to do a professional Journalism course.
  9. Journalism is a demanding profession. I missed my college life everyday but I was sucked into cold world of journalism so much that I didn’t even have time to even meet my friends on weekends. I started working like a robot after a few years.
  10. I started very early and hence I burnt out early too. It was inevitable, I guess. I was out of a regular day-to-day journalism job at around 35 years of age. It was an early retirement of sorts as I had burnt myself out.

I ended my full-time career as the Chief of Bureau at The Times of India (newspaper)in 2014 in Mumbai (which you might define as a successful career).

But I would never tell others to follow my path.

Please complete your Masters Degree in Journalism or do a PG Diploma in Journalism before you join the industry.

More importantly, enjoy your college and university life as a student. You are never going to get it back.

There’s no glory in struggling the way I did early on in in my career.

A professional degree/diploma in journalism enhances your longevity in the industry and arms you against the odds that the profession will throw at you early on in your career.

All the very best in your journalism career.


Important attribution: The same answer with some modifications also features on my Quora page HERE. The writer of both the blogs are the same person.

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Featured, View Point

The reality of the education system

I earn my living as a senior education administrator and I have been doing this for the past five years. I want to declare here that the education sector of this country is at a very critical stage due to Reservation.

Unfortunately, I am a Bengali Brahmin by birth and so, I belong to the general category students in this country. But I am not prejudiced against any caste or religion, rather I will try to present my arguments based on facts.

None of you have actually realised what has happened to the education system of this country while you were not looking.

Here is what has happened.

Caste-Reservation

The general education policy of India is usually prescribed by the government (both at the Centre and at the states) for colleges and institutions that are funded by them, partially or wholly.

Most private colleges or educational institutes don’t have reservation since they don’t receive money from the government as aid.

Since education is a Concurrent Subject under the Indian constitution, both the Centre and the State government may have their own legislations and jurisdictions over it.

This is where the problem begun and look where it has reached now.

Let’s look at how the different governments have dealt with Reservation in Educational institutes that includes technical institutes like the IIT and specialised professional institutes like Medical Colleges.

Many years back, the norm was 22.5 per cent reservation in educational institutes for ST, SC, OBC and other backward classes as per the Central government policy.

That system came under heavy artillery fire because the general category people argued that the reservation percentage was too high and that the general category students were being discriminated against.

The Central government initially agreed and started looking for a solution.

The governments (The Congress government at the Centre and others at the states) formed Committees, Advisory Bodies, Peer Groups to look into the criticism and finally, came back with a marvellous solution.

The solution was an increase in the reservation to 49.5%!

This meant close to half of the seats of central government funded educational institutes were reserved for students who might otherwise not qualify for admissions in the first place.

You might ask me, why not 50% reservation?

It is because there is a Supreme Court ruling that half of the seats in a college or a professional institute cannot be reserved.

It has to be less than that.

Nobody imagined at that time that the Congress government at the Centre would raise the cap which is just half a per cent point short from the prescribed upper limit set by the Supreme Court of India.

Some political parties in the states which play vote-bank politics (this means they expressly ask for votes on basis of religion, caste and creed) were obviously not happy with this 50% limitation imposed on them by the Supreme Court.

So, what did they do?

A few state governments again came back with another brilliant solution!

Some of them blatantly disregarded the Supreme Court order to impose more than 50 per cent reservation in schools, colleges and technical institutes in their respective states.

Currently , there are five states in India which has more than 50 per cent reservation. The states are:

  • Tamil Nadu: Reservation is up to 69 per cent (SC-18 per cent, ST-one per cent, OBC-50 per cent)
  • Telengana: The state currently has 62 percent reservation.
  • Maharashtra: On 25 June 2014, the erstwhile Congress-NCP government had approved 16 per cent reservation for Marathas and 5 per cent for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutions, over and above the 49%. But the Bombay High Court put it on hold, saying the reservation ceiling cannot exceed 50 per cent, except in extraordinary situations and for extraordinary reasons. In the case of public employment, 52 per cent reservation is in place for backward classes under a 2001 State Reservation Act.
  • Haryana: The Haryana Backward Classes (reservation in services and admission in educational institutions) Act, 2016, passed on 26 May 2016, gave 10 per cent reservation to Jats and five other communities, including Jat Sikhs, Muslim Jats, Bishnois, Rors, and Tyagis, under the special backward class category. It has given another 10 per cent reservation to economically backward persons from the general category, which took the total reservation to 67 per cent, exceeding the SC-imposed cap.
  • Rajasthan: The Rajasthan Backward Classes (Reservation of Seats in Educational Institutions in the State and of Appointment and Posts in Services under the State) Bill, 2017, proposes a five per cent increase in the OBC quota. The bill raises reservation for Gujjars and four other backward communities in Rajasthan from 21 per cent to 26 per cent. With this new 5 per cent category, reservation in the state now stands at 54 per cent – above the 50 per cent legal cap. (Source)

How does this help the political parties?

If you go and attend their rallies, you will see that the leaders organise political meetings at areas where the reserved category people are dominant and ask for votes because they have provided reservations for them in schools, colleges and government jobs.

The claim of these political leaders are very simple: “I have made it easier for you to get admission in top schools, colleges and get a government job, so… vote for me”.

The worst part is, they are getting votes and winning elections on the basis of those claims. So more and more politicians are taking that route to secure a vote bank for themselves.

This has given rise to a different kind of culture: India has seen the rapid rise of class struggles from categories or castes that were not included in the list of ST, SC and OBC. Some of them are even resorting to violence to get what they want.

The castes that are still not included in the reservation list are demanding more reservation and they are organising rallies, calling for strikes and even resorting to violence when the government is not listening to them.

Currently, there are five major castes in India who are demanding reservations for them. Some of protests have even resulted in death.

Some of the political parties have even made this a part of their election manifestos.

The political party which has promised the maximum number of reservations and made it into a political manifesto ahead of election is Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah of the Congress party, who is seeking a second term.

He has promised that the reservation in his state would be increased to 70% and this declaration is a part of his election campaign.

Reservation-In-India-Good-or-Bad

The Supreme Court is yet to give its verdict on the blatant violation of the guidelines that have been formulated by the…. Supreme Court itself.

So, you see India has already reached a stage where most of the appointments in government jobs and seats at government funded institutes are going to be there for the reserved candidates who, otherwise, wouldn’t qualify to study in these premiere institutes or get a government job on merit.

We are rapidly reaching a stage where only a handful of seats will be left open for general category of students or may be… in the near future, we may arrive at a point in time where some educational institutes or jobs will be closed to the general category forever.

As a result of this discriminatory reservation, the good students from the general category (millions of them) are now taking up jobs in private companies and studying in private education institutes which are not funded by the government.

A section of them are also migrating to other countries.

This “facility” of unreserved seats for the general category students in the private sector have not gone unnoticed to the political parties who are desperate to get votes.

So, some of them have now started demanding that seats should be reserved even in private companies and private education Institutes in India.

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar has already started lobbying for reservation[9] in the private sector and has even started tweaking the laws of Bihar so that companies are forced to hire employees from the reserved categories.

THIS IS THE REALITY OF CASTE, CREED AND RELIGION BASED RESERVATION IN INDIA. SOON THERE MIGHT BE EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTES IN INDIA AND DEPARTMENTS OF GOVERNMENT WHO WILL COMPLETELY SHUT ITS DOORS TOWARDS GENERAL HINDU CANDIDATES.

This will remain a reality unless a drastic decision is made to reverse it.

The Supreme Court of India is looking into the abuse[10] of the system and might decide to reverse it all.

We should keep our fingers crossed.

But a drastic reform to end reservations seems unlikely in a country like India where votes are sought and elections are won on the basis of caste.

Footnotes

[1] Reservation in India – Wikipedia

[2] Reservation in India – Wikipedia

[3] Concurrent List – Wikipedia

[4] Will Rajasthan follow 4 states that have exceeded 50 per cent reservation cap

[5] Quota should not exceed 50 %, says Supreme Court

[6] Will Rajasthan follow 4 states that have exceeded 50 per cent reservation cap

[7] Five Major Communities Leading Protests And Demanding Caste-Based Reservations Across India

[8] Siddaramaiah’s poll promise: 70 per cent reservation for SC, OBC for government, education sectors

[9] Nitish Kumar Wants 50% Reservation In Private Sector, Tweaks Bihar Rules

[10] Supreme Court to Allow Constitution Bench to Revisit 11-year-old Verdict on SC/ST Quota

This content was first shared on QUORA.

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Obituary

Sonika’s death: How Kolkata media is shamelessly shielding the accused

On the morning of April 29, the people of Kolkata woke up to terrible news — model Sonika Singh Chauhan and her friend, Vikram Chatterjee had met with an accident near Rashbehari Avenue in Kolkata. 

Though the car was a sedan, its airbags did not deploy because the car swerved minutes before the impact and was hit on one of the sides, flipping over.

The side that crashed was the passenger seat, where Sonika was sitting. 

This is what remained of the car, see the enormous impact on its body. Do you think this impact can happen if you are driving at 60 kilometres an hour? (Which is considered very high speed in the busy south Kolkata crossing, by the way).

The driver Vikram Chatterjee and Sonika, who were seen on social media partying some hours ago, were rushed to the hospital. Sonika was bleeding profusely and was declared dead on arrival. Vikram Chatterjee was released from the hospital sometime later with only first aid. The initial diagnosis said that there was no serious injury on Chatterjee.

Here is a picture of Sonika who was quite famous as a model in Kolkata and eventually wanted to shift base to Mumbai. 

Soon after the news went viral on Kolkata media, Vikram got himself admitted to another private hospital again complaining of uneasiness and pain.

He was referred to medical tests like MRI etc which eventually concluded that nothing is wrong with him other than the pain from the bodily injuries that he endured during the crash. 


Kolkata was grieving and the police started their investigations into the case. All was good till this case started taking a bizarre turn, thanks to the Kolkata media which initially didn’t raise any question about how the young model died such a horrific death. 

Vikram Chatterjee called a press conference and every media outlet in Kolkata attended it. There he claimed that he was not drunk and he wasn’t driving at break-neck speed. 

He wore a huge bandage on his head and claimed this in front of media cameras.

This is what he said.

A headline in one of the newspapers after the press conference

The national media raised its brows, questioned the authenticity of the claims. But the regional Bengali media continued to play referee even though it was very clear how and why the accident occurred. The defeating silence from the Bengali local media continued and continues today. They are not up in arms against the actor and merely reporting the developments in the story. No investigation was launched by a prominent channel, the way a national media would take it up.

Meanwhile Vikram Chatterjee surrendered before the court and was granted bail on the same day. The local media kept repeating and playing his words on loop that he was not drunk, neither was he driving at high speed (even though the police concluded otherwise).

Meanwhile, Sonika’s friends took to social media to express their anger, many of them eyewitnesses that he was drinking. Others were friends with eyewitnesses who saw Vikram drinking the night before.

Here, take a look at some of the social media posts.

Social media posts by Sonika’s friends and common friends

No, all this haven’t been able to move the Kolkata media who continues to play referee. He is not being referred to as an ‘accused’ and just as an actor.

His ‘exclusive interviews’ waxes eloquent of him and paints him as a loving friend who is crestfallen after Sonika’s death. Sonika Singh Chauhan’s death is being treated as a Greek tragedy with Vikram being the tragic hero.

Despite the fact that he is an accused and the reporting should be from the police investigation point of view (preliminary findings are already public), the vernacular Bengali media in Kolkata continues to remain meek.

We are so sorry Sonika.

The celebrity starved Kolkata media which lives in its own cocoon, hasn’t woken up to modern journalism yet. Most articles about celebrities that are published and aired are still complimentary and end up promoting the celebrity.

Most of these interviews are done by selfie-clicking journalists who want to party, wine and dine with the page three community and aim to get inside their social circles.

Fearless objective celebrity journalism is rare and hard to come by in the Bengali media in Kolkata.

I was a part of it once and I know this ‘domesticated’ beast well.

I am addressing this blog to the editors of Bengali media in Kolkata.

Please treat this as a crime. Please treat the celebrity as an accused. Please investigate the death rather than merely reporting the developments. Don’t try to shield the celebrity but bring out the truth.

You will get enough opportunities to lick boots but opportunities for true journalism come by rarely.

Seize this opportunity, dear legendary journalists.

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Obituary

Facebook takes down Arjun Bhardwaj’s profile after it was vandalised

I had told you before how a group of students were constantly and incessantly vandalising the Facebook profile of Arjun Bhardwaj.

They were posting memes, jokes and abusive messages in the comments section that were directed towards him and his family.

His teachers, family and friends were watching in horror as it was happening because nobody could do anything about it but constantly report the comments to Facebook.

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Arjun Bhardwaj who hailed from Bangalore and was studying in a college in Mumbai

More so, even before the investigations were over by the Mumbai Police, Facebook was, in a veiled manner, suggesting that Arjun had committed suicide which obviously was not helping the poor boy or his family.

It must be remembered here that once your FB account is turned into a legacy account (when Facebook is aware that you are dead), they take over the reigns of your account. There is an option of transferring the rights of your ‘dead’ account to your friends or family but only a minute fraction of the users have done that so far.

The reason is simple: You don’t know when you will die and you don’t want anybody to have a look into your profile page. Even you appoint somebody to look after your page when you are dead, the control remains with Facebook and they decide if they want to take the profile page down. 

It seems Facebook has realised what was happening on the boy’s profile. This is the same page where he last posted a video message before killing himself.

Here is a screenshot of the profile page.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 9.05.30 PM

A screenshot of the profile page that has since been removed

To add insult to injury, Facebook was even advertising on top of the page on how to manage a dead person’s account.

However it now appears that after the outrage, Facebook has pulled the profile page down.

While Facebook has its own policies regarding a dead person’s profile, right now there is no system of filtering abusive messages for a person who is no more there to defend himself. For this function, Facebook relies on the person handling your profile page. However, if you haven’t transferred the rights to anybody while you were alive, then Facebook has no system of preventing abuse.

Abuse on Facebook depends on a system of human reporting.

It is not clear whether the action of taking the page down has been triggered by protests and “reports” or it was a request put forward by his family or the Mumbai Police.

Whoever has done this, my heartfelt wishes to the person.

He has done a great service to the poor kid. It’s good that somebody finally realised that the dead need to be honoured and , ‘No ill can be spoken about the dead’.

He is now safe from the attacks of moronic human beings who have infested the social media platform.

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Obituary

Need help to report these morons on Facebook

A visit to Arjun Bhardwaj’s Facebook profile will tell you what is exactly wrong with today’s generation of college students.

Arjun, a college student, recently committed suicide by jumping off from the 19th floor of a five-star hotel in Mumbai’s Bandra.

Before killing himself, he went live on Facebook to record his act and even posted a tutorial which he called ‘Five Steps To Commit Suicide’.

He was depressed. 

But even as everybody who knew him are mourning his passing away, his Facebook profile has turned into a visible representation of all that his wrong with the students of Arjun’s generation.

Students, who are probably of the same age as Arjun, have come on his profile to post abuses for him and his family. I am posting one of them here.

Some have created a website pages with his photos etc and are openly advertising on Arjun’s profile to get more views. 

One website has gone a step forward, they procured the video from the caches and are letting people download it on their phone. Here is a screenshot.

It has not stung their conscience that this is a person who was ill and urgently needed medicines and immediate therapy.

Some students, like Punit Khuswaha, Virat Satish and Parth Shah have repeatedly abused Arjun and his family in the comments section. Sample this one. It will make your blood boil. 

or this one…

There are countless such comments on his profile and most of them by people of the same age group as Arjun’s.

They have posted memes, jokes, vile abuses and are constantly doing it as you read this blog. Some are instigating others to do so.

Arjun is not there anymore to defend himself. I appeal to all of you through this blog to go and report these morons and help us to clean up his profile. 

Most students — I see these days — are like the ones abusing him and joking about him. All they have are their obnoxious attitude and an equally vile point of view which doesn’t offer any room or respect for views and stands of others.

While most students these days live their lives online and nothing is worth their time except for parties and social media, I know that there is a fraction who still have their conscience intact and know the right from the wrong.

I appeal to all of them to go, hunt these morons down and report them. 

Let’s honour our dead.

There cannot be two points of views on that.

 

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Featured, Obituary

Mani Sir missed a deadline today

When he last came to our college, a little less than a year back, I couldn’t help but notice how much weight he had lost.

He was speaking softly and gasping for a breath as I offered him a seat.

He didn’t accept his customary cup of tea.

He declared that he wouldn’t be able to take classes at our institution for “a long time to come”. 

“Today was the last lecture with my Journalism students. I am going in for a kidney transplant in a month’s time. It will take some time before I am fit again to come for regular classes…”

Before I could react to the statement, he continued…

“…But I have completed my part of the syllabus and I will send you the marks before I take admission in the hospital.”

As I kept insisting that he doesn’t need to bother himself with either marks or completing the syllabus, he kept repeating that he was just keeping his date with the deadline.

“A deadline is a deadline and one must respect it. I have a deadline to complete my course and I haven’t missed it, you see. All along I have respected deadlines and there’s no way that I am not doing it now.” 

That was Mani D’Mello. My senior for many years who never missed a page deadline in his lifetime (It is the deadline when a newspaper page is sent to the printing press. Maintaining this deadline is usually the section editor’s responsibility).

As he went in for the complicated operation and later on, after the successful surgery, I kept on communicating with Mani Sir (as I always called him) over Whatsapp and occasionally, over the phone.

Sometimes we would discuss the news website that he was building. He always used to lament that he doesn’t have good desk hands to curate news effectively. 

Senior journalist Late Mani D’Mello

“Most of the youngsters don’t have news sense, you know. Lot of them don’t even have the concept of a news desk. I have to guide them at every step and rewrite their copies. Looking at them, one understands how online media will become in a few years. Online media is going towards chaos from chaos.”

Though he was unsure about where online news outlets were ultimately heading towards, there was one thing he was absolutely sure of.

It was years of acute work stress that affected his health.

“A journalist’s job comes with such stress that it might kill you. You cannot go on working under duress for such a long time. One day the work pressure will get to you. It was because of years of work-related stress that I developed high blood sugar.  Everything else was just an after-effect. If one worries about retaining the job all the time, how can one work? Tell me, which senior journalist is healthy today. Everybody has one complication or the other.”

Later, when I called him to find out how his operation went, he told me that he has set a deadline to “make a comeback.” 

He also told me that he had a successful implant and he was having immunity suppressants to let the new organ settle inside the body. 

“I have to be a little careful and not go out of the house and into public places. The doctor told me that I am susceptible to infection and that is the only thing I should be worried about. Give me a few more months and I will return to your college to teach. In the next academic year, I will be back. That’s the deadline I have set for myself.” 

I clearly heard him chuckling.

Accordingly, we prepared a fresh new Journalism course for him to teach.

Only this time, Mani D’Mello missed the deadline.

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Uncategorized

Quoted in Bombay Times

It was an absolute delight to be quoted in Bombay Times on Sunday. The article dealt with the fact that colleges have become a hotbed for film promotions. Here is a JPG image of the article that came out yesterday on the back page of Bombay Times.

My quote comes in the second box as the founder-patron of Hashtag International Media Festival that we started last year. Yes, it was a huge hit among students and Bollywood too. My college Harkisan Mehta Institute of Media, Research and Analysis (HMMRA) was the presenting college of the festival along with Mithibai College. Bombay Times article

HERE IS THE LINK TO THE ARTICLE  

Or you can also try this shortened link -> http://bit.ly/BTMention

The article by Garvita Sharma is really good and an exclusive as well.

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Uncategorized

Mentioned in Wire.In

I was pleasantly surprised when I found an article in Wire.In that mentioned about me and my website BollywoodJournalist.com.

The article is written by senior journalist (whom I know personally too) Khalid Mohamed. However, I swear I was pleasantly surprised when I got to know about it from Google Alerts.

The mention of BollywoodJournalist in Wire.in

The mention of BollywoodJournalist in Wire.in

 

Here is the link of the Article.

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Featured

Just not mother’s baby, her father’s too!

By Madhur Prabhakar

madhur-pic

Madhur Prabhakar

July 11th last year was like a normal Saturday, when I wanted to rest and my wife had already made her shopping list.

As usual, I wasn’t given a choice. It was an overcast day and to be honest, Delhi is the last place you should think about driving to when you are expecting a rain. But, we left nonetheless. I helped her sit in our SUV. You can imagine its little h….Oops I almost forgot to mention that my wife was in her ninth month of pregnancy and her gynec visit wasn’t due for another week. Her EDD (Expected Date of Delivery if you are not familiar with the acronym) was 24th July. We were told that she was in her safe period of pregnancy.

So, as I was saying, I helped her sit and we left our home at about 11 o’clock in the morning. The moment we left it started drizzling. I was brooding all by myself as I began to imagine how the drive is going to turn out to be. But alas, life had different plans.

“I couldn’t sleep properly last night.”
“Why?” I asked, while carefully negotiating a road full of potholes.
“I was feeling cramps in my lower abdomen and back.”
I tensed, “How are you feeling right now”
“I am ok right now. I woke up alright in the morning.”
“I think we should go and see Dr. Soni first.”
(Dr. Anita Soni is a very well know gynecologist in Faridabad).

“But she asked us to visit her after a week and we only went to her day before yesterday”
“There is no harm in visiting her again. It will be on the way,” I had an intuition about what was happening and when we visited her it turned out to be correct.

(She did an internal check up) “Swati is already through her first stage of labour, you guys should rush to the hospital and admit her.”

Swati and I exchanged looks. While she was smiling, I already started sweating under my t-shirt. All the pre-natal sessions that both Swati and I attended came back to me and I realized that we were not carrying her maternity bag, her exercise ball; we weren’t even carrying baby’s stem cell collection kit. I calmly called my father and brother and asked them to get everything to the hospital.

When we came out of gynae’s clinic the rain had started pouring. I carefully helped Swati to the car. The realization about her being in labour made me extra careful. The hospital was around four kilometres away. But, if you are familiar with Faridabad you would know that even this short a distance can be torturous and that too during the rains. It took us around half an hour to reach.

I checked my watch; the time was 12:30 when we entered the hospital lobby. While I completed the admission formalities, the staff shifted Swati to the labour room. My parents and brother joined us in about an hour. I took out my I-pod from her maternity bag and plugged in the ear plugs with Mozart’s music. We were told that it helps in relaxing. I requested the staff for an exercise ball so that Swati can do her pre-natal exercises for a comfortable labour.

Madhur with Swati

Madhur Prabhakar with his wife Swati just days before delivery

While I was making sure that Swati is comfortable, she wasn’t feeling anything at all. There were no labor pains, nothing. Dr. Anita came to check on her at about 3:30 p.m. and left with instructions to her staff to call her as soon as contractions start. When I enquired about the expected timeline, I was told that it could take hours and even a day.
It didn’t take that much time though, and her contractions started at around 5:30. They continued to become longer and stronger. Now Swati was in excruciating pain.

It was still raining hard and I was afraid that Dr. Anita, who had left for home, won’t be able to make it back to the hospital in time. She finally arrived at 6:30 p.m. Her presence itself assured me that everything is going to be alright. I kept on spraying rose-water on her face and back of the neck to comfort Swati.

At 7:15 p.m. Dr. Anita did another internal check up and within few seconds her team of four nurses, one assistant and a pediatrician joined her. I requested her if I can be in the delivery room.

“Are you sure you won’t faint?” She asked with a smile.
“I am sure,” I replied with a resolve.
She asked me to change into sterilized clothing and follow her to the delivery room. By now Swati’s contractions had become stronger and I could see she was in tremendous pain. They started working on the delivery. Doctor asked Swati to count till 10 and push, then repeat. These were one of the longest 20 minutes, with everyone including me trying to encourage Swati to push the baby out and two nurses helping her by putting pressure on her stomach. There was a time when pain was so unbearable that Swati almost pleaded with the doctor for a C-section. Of course the doctor refused, and assured her that it will be over soon, just few more push.

It was 7:36 p.m. when it eventually happened. Everyone was perspiring and out of breath with the effort, except the doctor, when came out a red slimy thing (head first) from inside Swati.

The doctor cut the umbilical cord.

Myesha

This is little Mysha at her first birthday party

When I saw the baby I couldn’t control my laughter. Everyone, including the doctor in the room joined me, “Why are we laughing?” They asked.

“Khoda pahad nikla chuha,” I said. 

The baby was so tiny that it was amusing to see something this small made us struggle this much. I was overjoyed.

I hugged my wife who was exhausted now. The pediatrician immediately wrapped the baby in the towel and took away.
“Baby girl or a boy?” Swati enquired in a whisper.
Then I realized that I was so happy to be a father that I didn’t even bother to check the gender of the baby. This was the moment that made me realize the true meaning of parenthood. Doesn’t matter if it’s a boy or a girl; It’s just your baby.

Delivery of a baby is just not about the mother. Father, if not equal, is at least an important part of the process. If you cannot be gentle with your wife during this period, then you are not a gentleman.

By the way, it’s a girl and we named her Mysha. She is 10 months now and the most beautiful thing.

I know. Of course, except my wife.

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