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.

Random and Twisted

How I conspired against my own wife

Location: Mithibai College, Vile Parle West, Mumbai

I had to wait for two hours outside Mithibai College to give her the news.

Clutching on a few blood reports from Lilavati Hospital, I was patiently waiting at the bus stand at seven in the evening because my girlfriend was in a lecture inside the college campus.

Earlier in the day she had complained of dizziness and exhaustion but she was certain that she was not pregnant.

When she came out of the campus and as we were walking towards the auto-stand, I broke the news to her. She looked at me in disbelief but never moved a face muscle.

It was a blank response.

The decision was already made even before the reports were out. We had decided to abort the baby.

A series of thoughts were going through my mind as she walked beside me in complete silence deciding not to hold my hand as we crossed the street. Clearly her mind was working on this alone. She was lost in her thoughts.

I decided to get lost in mine too.

(Rewind 30 days back)

Location: My apartment, Sion West, Mumbai

Even before she moved into my apartment in Sion (in the Eastern suburbs of Mumbai), she had discussed this with me numerous times. Given the fact that we were very active sexually, she had told me clearly that she wouldn’t want to have a baby.

She was in the broadcast industry as a reporter and she feared that getting pregnant at that point of time would adversely affect her career and she feared that she might not even have one, if she gets ahead with the pregnancy.

So, we were taking all kinds of protection during sex – yes both of us. While I always used a condom, I had an inkling that she used to be on pills.

But sex is a strange game and sometimes it doesn’t let you take preparations. It was not possible to say no to sex if you didn’t have a condom inside the side-table drawer. Also, as we had discovered, the fragile condom could not be trusted fully either. Hence the second round of protection.

Every now and then, I would buy a pack of those pregnancy kits and she would do a check. It was a kind of a game and we enjoyed it. Till one day, the results of the game appeared to have changed.

During those days when we were having baby issues

During those days when we were having baby issues

One day, after doing a check, we forgot to immediately discard it. It was on the bathroom table. A minute or two later, I noticed a faint second line on the indicator panel. It was a faint line. I told her immediately. She looked at me in disbelief.

“Let’s try once more. Go and bring me more pregnancy kits,” she ordered.

It was then a rerun of that scene in R Balki’s film, Ki and Ka: I went to the market and brought six pregnancy kits of different companies. Two of them showed a positive, two didn’t give a clear result and two more gave a negative verdict.

Our common friend advised a blood test – apparently the sure-shot way to find out.

I called her in office that afternoon and said that she needs to go for a blood test. That day, something major had happened in the city and she was busy with follow-up reports. She agreed for a blood test but only in the following week.

The report came three days later. It was positive.

That day in front of Mithibai college, we decided to visit a doctor the next day.

Location: Lilavati Hospital, Outpatient Department 

Both of us were standing in front of a doctor’s chamber at Lilavati Hospital. She had decided to abort the baby. I was not willing.

The doctor wrote something on the sheet. They were all vitamins etc. to support the pregnancy. But she insisted on an abortion.

The doctor said that an abortion is not possible at Lilavati Hospital. We will have to go another private clinic to get it done. The cost of getting the foetus aborted properly was not a mean sum.

We still agreed.

A week later, we decided to consult another doctor, a sister of a reputed former Bollywood heroine and a leading gynecologist at Lilavati Hospital. Her husband is considered a leading figure in Mumbai in the realm of IVF (In-Vitro Fertilisation).

We were already late and she advised a USG (Ultra Sonogram). “Your baby has got a beating heart. Listen to it. Then come back to me again,” the doctor ordered.

Again a few days later (on her off day), when we landed at the doctor’s chamber for the USG. A strange experience happened.

There, we heard a sound; it was the sound of a beating heart. It was loud and clear. It was faster than a normal heart beat. The heartbeat struck my heart.

She was startled on hearing the sound.

After the USG was over, I spoke to her. Softly but firmly. I told her that I cannot have that sound muted. Ever.


Before she left for Calcutta

The doctor had a very stern and clear advise. This is the first pregnancy and she wouldn’t advise us to terminate it. Rather, she said, medically it is unethical to terminate a first pregnancy because it might create issues later. She also said that we have to arrive at a decision fast because a delay might mean endangering my wife too.

We were through with our court marriage by that time too.

But she didn’t say a word.

She largely kept quiet for the next few days, going through the course of the days mechanically. I could see that she was torn between the baby and a career. She really wanted to be in office because she believed that her promotion is due. Sitting at home and nursing a baby was not her idea of life.

Five days later when she didn’t bring the topic up, I tried talking to her again. She said that she hadn’t arrived at a decision yet.

I decided to take matter in my own hands.

I called her elder sister in Mumbai and told her about her pregnancy. She told everybody else in her family. Her phone started ringing incessantly. She answered most of those calls in monosyllables and promised to call everyone back. She never called anybody back.

She clearly was torn between her career and her baby. Meanwhile, time was running out. Any further delay would mean more medical complications and of course, a very complicated abortion.

Unable to extract a decision from her. I took the drastic step.

I called my mother.

My mother was a terminal cancer patient and she was somebody who had never made a request to her. I have never heard my wife say no to my mother either. There was a great bonding between them.

My mother asked her to come and meet her in Calcutta. I was advised to stay back in Mumbai. My mother by that time was in no position to take a flight as the cancer had spread to her pelvis region from the uterus.

The doctors were not ready to operate on her anymore because she had already gone through more than 10 major operations (including one where we had to amputate her right palm). She was in a bad shape but she was strong as ever.

Five days later my wife took a flight to Calcutta. She came back after seven days – beaming, smiling and back to her old self.

She said that she will try to have the baby along with her job. But that was not the point.

The point was, she was ready to have the baby.

That was perhaps the happiest day of my life. The next few months were the worst struggle for her as she tried to straddle between her job and her pregnancy and things got complicated along the way.

That’s a different story.

In the first week of August 2012, I got a call from my mother at 10 PM. She wished me all the best for the baby.

During the conversation my mother told me that she wanted to listen to my voice for the last time. Two minutes later, she was out of breath.

My father said later that she was smiling the whole time despite being in severe pain.

She was at the newly constructed Tata Memorial Hospital in Calcutta.

She was in constant pain.

She also spoke to my father about the joys of becoming a grandmother for the first time.

By the end of August, I was in Calcutta to conduct my mother’s funeral.

On February 6, 2013, my son was born at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra, Mumbai.

The conversations between my wife and my mother are a secret to this day.

The first photo of Suhaan and Sonika. This was taken inside the Operation Theatre at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra West, Mumbai

The first photo of Suhaan and Sonika. This was taken inside the Operation Theatre at Lilavati Hospital, Bandra West, Mumbai




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


Or you can also try this shortened link ->

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


I am Suhaan. I want to tell you a story…

 Good stories  have superpowers.

A good story can mend broken hearts, cheer and can even turn a bad day upside down on its head.

Little children live in a world full of stories. If you know how to get into a child’s world with your story, then you can make miracles happen there.

I made a miracle happen recently. I transformed a sad memory into a happy reality.

Without further ado, let’s meet the hero of this story.

Here is my son. His name is Suhaan and he is three years old.

Suhaan Cover Picture

Hi, I am Suhaan. I smile a lot.

Suhaan hates birthday parties. He prefers not to attend them. It is because in one of the parties, a big kid pushed him and he fell down on the ground.

The big kid also snatched the toy he was playing with. Suhaan came home with scratches on his hands, because for the longest time he had refused to let go of the toy.

Suhaan, therefore, hates birthday parties.

If you say “birthday”, Suhaan would make a face like this one below.

Suhaan birthday party

This is my reaction if you ask me to go to a birthday party. They push me and snatch my toy. I don’t like going to birthday parties. That’s when I don’t smile.

But all that was about to change.

Here is that story…

Suhaan is extremely close to his mommy and till now, they have not spent a single day apart.

Here is Suhaan with his mommy.

Suhaan with Mommy

This is my mommy. She loves me a lot. I love her too.

Reality was about to change for Suhaan.

One day, Suhaan’s mommy got a call which didn’t make her happy. Suhaan’s mommy later broke the news to Suhaan and Papa. Mommy said that she will be away for three days in Delhi and she will have to leave little Suhaan with Papa.

Not only that, there was worse news, Suhaan will have to spend the entire Sunday without mommy.

On Friday, mommy had an afternoon flight and she quietly slipped away with a heavy heart while Suhaan was at school.

Suhaan was delighted to see Papa come and pick him up from school. Suhaan was more happy because Papa took Suhaan out for a ride in the car and they had a wonderful time.

On Saturday, papa bought Suhaan a packet of play dough and he played with it the whole day while papa gave him a bath, fed him and even put him to sleep.

Here is Suhaan watching cartoons on the TV intently on Saturday. Yeah, Suhaan had had a haircut. However, we thought that he looked better with longer hair.

Suhaan first picture

Missing Mommy

He was with papa the whole of Saturday and the outside world didn’t matter.

But then Sunday was not as good. Suhaan asked Papa about his mummy.

“Where is the Mummy?” Suhaan demanded, twisting both his palms and looking straight into his father’s eyes.

Papa was expecting this question and had the answer ready because he had rehearsed this answer over and over again.

“Mama will come tomorrow. Mama has gone to Delhi to buy Suhaan a new toy,” Papa said.

“Mommy come back,” Suhaan looked at papa, his eyes welling up.

After two hours, Suhaan stopped playing. He sat on the sofa, looking all dejected.

He was depressed. He refused to eat, refused to watch cartoons or even stand by the window to count pigeons.

Papa was alarmed. There was a new toy in front of him and Suhaan was not playing with it.

Suhaan was very sad.

“Let’s go and find mommy,” Papa said.

“It’s rain, the rain,” Suhaan pointed out towards the window but he rushed towards the door.

Suhaan and Papa, then started looking for “the mummy” around their apartment building.

Here is Suhaan with mommy’s umbrella looking for mommy.

Suhaan puddles Picture

Look! I spotted a frog!

They went to the adjoining road, they spotted puddles. There were big puddles and small puddles.

Suhaan Puddle

Can fish live there?

They played with the umbrella. They spotted a baby pigeon under a tree. They spotted the mummy pigeon guarding the baby pigeon.

But they couldn’t find mummy.

So, papa said, “let’s look around some more.”

Papa took Suhaan inside the car and they drove off.

But Suhaan was really, really depressed. Here’s a video of how depressed Suhaan was.

By this time Suhaan realised that papa hasn’t been able to find “the mummy”.

Mummy was missing and this made Suhaan even more sad.

Suhaan was not crying but he was not interested in anything.

Here is how sad Suhaan was…

The sad Suhaan

It’s not helping papa. Bring back Mommy.

Papa had to do something really fast because Suhaan needed a miracle.

Then papa came up with an idea.

“Why don’t we have a birthday party Suhaan? Mummy loves birthday parties. If we have a birthday party, mummy will come back tomorrow.”

“A birthday party?” asked Suhaan.

So, papa and Suhaan went to the local cafe and ordered pastries.

Suhaan’s friends were not there but all the people present there clapped for Suhaan. They got pastries too.

Suhaan had some imaginary friends attending the party also. If you look closely, you will see some colourful chess pawns. Yes, they are his imaginary friends!


Look! I am blowing very hard

Now, Suhaan was really getting into the groove. First, it was a birthday party and second, mamma comes back the next day if the party is a success.

So, they lit the candles and Suhaan blew them.

Suhaan was so excited that he couldn’t blow the candles off in one go. Here is the video of Suhaan trying to blow the candles.

But finally the candles were blown and the pastries were served. Everybody around Suhaan clapped and whistled.

Papa then fed Suhaan the “birthday cake”.


The cake tastes nice…

Suhaan had a huge smile on his face.

As the party drew to a close, Suhaan just couldn’t stop smiling.

Suhaan smiling

It was a great party, papa!

A happy Suhaan went back home and as Papa promised, his mummy was back the next day.

Something changed after that day.

These days, Suhaan loves birthday parties because he believes that mummy and papa always come back when there’s a birthday party.

Suhaan dances and plays at every birthday now. But he has made it a rule that both mummy and papa should attend all the birthday parties along with him.

But now…. papa and mummy both keep an eye out for bigger kids so that they don’t push Suhaan, scratch him or snatch his toy away.


Suhaan loves birthday parties!


All the good pictures of Suhaan are clicked by Harjeet Singh Jabbal.
The bad ones are clicked by Papa on an old phone that Suhaan hates.