A year gone by. Another on the way just like the last. Sometimes it makes me wonder, what is so great about the dawn of a new year. You did things you do every year, gotten drunk or may be if you had money, you took a vacation or two.
People die and more babies are born. Across the world quite a number of celebrities passed away – Star Wars famed Carrie Fisher and George Michael to name a few. I read more obituaries this year than last two years combined.
If you take the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, where I’m residing currently, the year was pretty eventful. Beginning of 2016 was spent in recovering from floods that ravaged Chennai in 2015. People, enterprises and corporate were finding their footing after incurring a huge loss. Public morale was pretty low. This really was not the kind of year you look forward to.
As a journalist, you are never short of stories. You do so many stories flood stories that at some point you do not want write anything to do with floods anymore.
Then again as it is with the way of life, people moved on. They began to look forward to tomorrow. Industries’ business started picking up and contingency plans were put in place to avoid such situations. There were press meeting, new hotel and factory launches. I had my first factory visit to Mondelez that produce Dairy Milk chocolates in Sri City on April 25, 2016. It was a interesting day, albeit a pretty long one.
Whole of April and May was spent covering election frenzy. The most anticipated Tamil Nadu elections was held in May 2016 and for the first time since 1989, an incumbent Chief Minister was elected to become the CM of the state. It was one of the most exciting time to be a journalist. I got an opportunity to travel to Dharmapuri to cover elections. That was the first time I traveled outside Chennai for covering a story. Reporting on ground gives you an opportunity to understand what people think about the politicians who wield power, their frustrations and difficulties. You learn what is actually happening, yet helpless to do anything about it. Guess that why being a journalist is so exciting and frustrating at the same time.
I covered Chennai Book fair in June and got fresh load of books myself while I was at it. Not only that. I was able to interact with the only Tamil Comics book publisher in India. The publishing house based in Sivakasi and publishes Franco-Belgian genre of comics in Tamil. I loved doing that story and it was published in page 1 in the paper I was working for (It is quite an honour really). Soon after that it was time for my Europe trip. I went on 21 day holiday to Europe, one of the best things I had done in my life.
The trip helped me realise a lot of things. First, there is so much to see and learn in the world and being cooped up in Chennai will get me nowhere. So I started a blog to maintain a record of my travels like thousands of others. When I was penning down my travel experience, I realised writing about places I saw and things I did were of least interest to me. What I did enjoy writing was my interactions with locals and fellow travellers. I seriously feel the latter made better story than the former. The blog has grown and I hope I get more people to like and follow my blog.
Though this experience made me want to become a full-fledged travel writer, it is just not who I’m. I cannot write articles that says how to get to Place A from Place B or what are the best places to see in Place B. I just cannot. After being a journalist for over a year, I knew I would rather have someone else’s voice in my story than my own.
After I came back from my trip, super star Rajinikanth movie Kabali and Harry Potter 8th installment, Harry Potter and the cursed child awaited me. I wrote bunch of stories and blogs on Kabali and Harry. But I did not know at that there were more to come. I met with a two-wheeler accident on August 6, had to undergo knee surgery and took time off work for close three months. You could say that the blog was born to keep myself busy rather than thinking about being an invalid. Guess it worked out fine.
November came. It was difficult getting back to work after period of inertia for three months doing only what I want to do. I had difficulty getting used to work, given my lack of reflex and restrictions after my knee surgery. I was just getting used to work. Then came the announcement of demonetisation that shook the whole country. High values notes Rs 500 and Rs 1000 were banned from circulation. ATMs and banks were overcrowded and I was finding ways to deposit money in the shortest time possible.
December dawned and boy was it eventful. Chief Miniter J Jayalalithaa died of cardiac arrest, 75 days after she was admitted in Apollo Hospitals, Chennai on December 5. Two days later, political commentator, comedian and Editor of Tamil Weekly Thuglak, Cho Ramasamy died. If this were not enough, DMK Chief M Karunanidhi was admitted in the hospital (He was later discharged). Most of the journos were just hoping the year would already end.
Just when you think that things could not go wrong anymore, Cyclone hit Chennai on December 12. Cyclone Vardah hit Chennai, robbing the city of its green cover. There was no electricity for three days. In many areas, the power was not restored for over 10 days. Due to network failure, card machines were not working and along with cash crunch, Cyclone made Chennaites desperate for cash. The story about demonetisation and cyclone impact continued.
Amidst this, Margazhi music festival was breather for me. For the first time I immersed myself in music and food and did not much care about what kind of story I could come up with. Probably that is why my stories were better.
Today is December 31, 2016. The last day of the year. Even as I’m penning down what is probably my last blog of the year, I realise that it had been quite a year. It was the most stressful year, yet at the same time a remarkable one. There are things I learnt and things I wished I had done better. Most of the all, I hope to learn from my mistakes. I’m also hoping that 2017 will bring new adventures and many more mistakes and learning along with it.
Happy New Year!