MM photo

 

By

Ratnesh Dwivedi

 

 

The Teaching Assignment and Shiny Rachel Thomos

 

Designing “The Nose of The News” required time, study and money. I dedicated my time to reading books, searching websites and conceptualizing the episodes. I was somehow feeling busy, however it was not recognized till then. Sometimes I spent the whole day in a cyber café in Thipsandara market in search of news related stuff on the internet. But it was where I had to put all the money which I got from my brothers and parents. Dispatching it to top individuals and organizations always had the risk of questioning what was the intention behind it. But I did not stop and kept e-mailing the dispatches every week, mostly on Thursdays. I carried “The Nose of The News” until I was not fully engaged in a permanent full time job in 2008. This was the longest piece of journalistic work which I feel did not get any recognition.

There was a requirement for money if I had to carry my passion of writing reports and dispatching them. Sometimes I had to pay a whole day’s surfing charges to the cyber café in Thipsandara. Let me confess that at times I even stole some money to fulfil my obsession. But soon I realized that if I required to carry this forward I had to get a job. Soon, on other days of the week I started roaming around the city for a media job. But it was not my luck. I shifted my search from industry to academics as I had some experience of teaching in a media school. Bangalore is not as big as Delhi, so I could roam in each corner of the city in one day. It had also got almost seventy colleges which were running journalism programs. Some of these colleges were private, having AICTE and affiliation with Bangalore University.

One fine morning I saw an advertisement in my newspaper which was about a teaching assignment in a private college running a journalism program at bachelors level. I thought to try my luck and called the given number.

St George College of Management and Science was one of those colleges in Bangalore which somehow managed to get affiliation of AICTE and Bangalore University. It was run in a small building painted in white. The owner of the college was a shrewd businessman. He understood that I was in need of a job and would agree on his terms and conditions; he called me to meet him. The college was located in the Basavanguddi area and was five kilometers away from my house. As soon as I reached the college I developed the fear of rejection as it had happened with me in Delhi. But as I said, the owner of the college was a shrewd man. As he became conversant about my qualifications and experience, he asked me to join from next week and asked the HR people to release my appointment letter with a salary of 7000/- a month.

When I got the appointment letter in my hands I examined it many times. My hands were trembling as if I had got something very hot in my hands. I could not believe that I had something with me for which I had waited for years. A regular job and clear-cut bifercation of my salary. It was a dream which came true. I reached my house and told my parents and then my elder brother on his return from the office. All were happy and so was I as I had a source to carry out my dream to dispatch “The Nose of The News”. This was August 2004.

 

The Department of Journalism at St George College of Management and Science was in its first starting year and I was the only one to manage the department. But to my astonishment there were only two students to start with. One a Bengali student while the other was an Oriya. Both had come to Bangalore as they were not able to get in to their first choice of Engineering. On my first day when I was told about my duties I was also told to increase the strength of the department. I had to teach all five subjects incorporated in the first semester, which were Introduction to Mass Communication, Reporting, Basic of Editing, Audio Visual Journalism and Computer Application. Two other subjects which were part of the syllabus were taught by another faculty. There was no teacher who could teach English to the class of two students. And I started my class with my favorite subject of reporting. I had to take five continuous classes before sending both students to the computer lab, while I waited for an English faculty to join the college.

My primary concern was to motivate both students who were low on morale. I would tell them the challenges in reporting through the experience I had gained in Ayodhya and by meeting biggies in media like Rajdeep, Ami, Shikha Trivedi and Anita Pratap. To boost their morale level I would tell them how lucrative the media profession is.

One fine day I was called by the owner of the college and he told me that a new English faculty was going to join soon. In the meantime I took some advance money to dispatch episodes of “The Nose of the News”.

We had one day off on Sundays . One Monday when I went to my seat I saw a lady in her thirties sitting in front of me. Shiny Rachel Thomos was from Kerla but unlike most of the Kerelaits, she had a fair complexion and pleasant personality. She was warm enough to be affectionate to everyone. I liked that I now had company with me. We talked about the timetable and courses which she was going to share with me. She was in the college to teach English.

Shiny Rachel Thomos had a little daughter in her family and her husband was in UAE. Sometimes she would carry her daughter with her. The daughter was a copy of her mother; she would stick to her the whole day and seldom go out to have a packet of chips from the nearby shop. Shiny Rachel Thomos was good at communication and I found that she was happy to share her feelings with me. I too was appreciative towards her and we both put our best efforts to run the department.

I always sat next to her to discuss the many issues related to the department and she would always come up with a solution. Our chemistry was good, our bonding was best.

I narrated that the morale of both the students was low as they did not have enough students in the class. They always worried about the legality of the college and always came to me asking if the degree was valid and recognized. I had no answer for them and always said that everything was right. One day the Bengali students came to me and told me that he was withdrawing from college and shifting to another good college where he had secured admission. It was a shock for me as I had to worry for my job. If there would not be any students, why would the shrewd owner keep me and give me a salary, I thought. Despite the best of mine and Shiny Rachel Thomos’ efforts we could not hold the Bengali student and soon we found that the Oriya student also followed in the footsteps of the Bengali student.

As I had predicted, it was a waste of money to keep me in the department on the owner’s part. So one day when college was about to close for the day, the owner called me and asked me to put in my papers. I was in shock and told Shiny Rahel Thomos. I had to leave a job for which I had waited and a good friend in whom I trusted.

This was the end of my two month teaching assignment as lecturer at St George College of Management and Science.

 

I was again jobless, I was again shattered. This was September 2004 when I started working again on my concept of “The Nose of the News” from the same cyber café in Thipsandara market.

While working on the concept of dispatches I searched for a new hobby and that was to peep in to the websites of NASA and National Academy of Sciences. This was a new world for me, a new passion which sometimes kept me in the cyber café for the whole day. I somehow got associated with the Saturn Observation Campaign, an effort of Cassini Hyugence Mission of Jet Propulsion Laboratory-NASA and came in touch with Senior Outreach Specialist Jane Huston Jones. A very optimistic mission sent to study planet Saturn and its fabulous ring and moons.

My dispatches, which I sent also to the BBC, encouraged me to speak to the people there. I was sending my e-mails to Nik Gowing at BBC in London and wanted to speak to him. So one day I just rang him up and asked if he was receiving my e-mails. Nik Gowing, a prime time anchor and editor with BBC World was educated at the Simon Langton Grammar School in Canterbury and Latymer Upper School in London, followed by the University of Bristol.

A foreign affairs specialist and presenter at ITN from 1978, Gowing became Diplomatic Editor for the flagship Channel 4 News from 1989. During his time with the BBC, Gowing has since presented The World Today (1996–2000), Europe Direct, HARDtalk, Dateline London, as well as Simpson’s World.

At the time of the death of Princess Diana in 1997, Gowing anchored coverage for over seven hours, reportedly only having had 40 minutes sleep before being driven back to Television Centre to present. BBC World was being simulcast for the first time ever with the BBC domestic channel BBC One, making up a global audience of around half a billion, to whom he announced her death.

His coverage of the aftermath of the September 11th 2001 attacks won the 2002 Hotbird Award. He had been on air for six hours. He is also a Member of Council of the Royal United Services Institute.

He said that he was receiving hundreds of e-mails on a daily basis and was unable to recognize my e-mail out of the chunk. Whatever, he recognized it or deleted it from his system I admired him for the kind of coverage he did on Princess Diana’s death and 9/11.

 

 

Departing to Ayodhya again

 

I cursed my luck which was snatching away all the opportunities time was giving me and that is all I could do after I was out from the college. I calculated that it had been a good five years that I had not been able to find a regular job and was somehow keeping engaged in so called freelancing work and designing and dispatching of “The Nose of The News”. Time had given me a bad taste, destiny had written a tough chapter for me. All I could do was to accept god’s will and thanked him for all the support my brother’s family and parents were giving me. But as I said there is an end to everything. Somehow I realized that my brother himself was worried and upset for my non-performance or luck.

When we all realized that nothing was coming my way and as per Hindu tradition I also required to be married, my elder brother proposed a plan. For five years he had sheltered me and I had no doubt about his love and affection for me but he had responsibilities for his family as well. It is not that he was not pained and disturbed and so were my parents, but he was more worried for my future. Time was passing by very fast and social responsibilities had to be worn, so he suggested I move to my native place for a couple of years. He thought I would have to change my life, have a new atmosphere. As was tradition in my family I would get married in a cultured and civilized Brahmin family. I, who was rigid and firm that I would defeat my luck, did not like the plan initially, but had to accept it, as it was god’s will.

So, towards the beginning of November 2004, I along with my parents boarded a train to my native place where I had grown up, educated and learnt a lot about media. This was a second farewell for me against my will and desire from another city. I cried when I had to leave Delhi, but I was depressed when I was deported from Bangalore. Destiny had something else for me, time had otherwise.

I was unable to react when we all reached Ayodhya. We all had not been to our village for several years. It was locked, dirty and looked like it was desperately waiting for us to arrive. It took us one week to clean our part of the house (as I had narrated earlier, our village house was the residence of my father and his two brothers and their families) and it took me one full year to finally adjust in an atmosphere which was abandoned by me and seldom visited.

For the first week I did not go anywhere and remained confined to my house. As I started moving outside my village and kept going to Ayodhya to my uncle’s house I started finding new friends, those who recognized my work in 2002 and 2003 and those who had studied with me in school and college. Soon I realized that my point of depression was worth less and there was lots of life in town. I had some experience of teaching, I had experience of dispatching reports and designing my optimistic e-mail based program “The Nose of the News”, and I had several months of knowledge of space science which I got during my web surfing of NASA websites in the cyber café in Thipsandara. This was the time when I must explore new avenues where opportunities were less but the people were good.

Exploring such ideas, one day I knocked at the door of a University professor.

Avadh university was rechristened as Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Avadh University in memoriam of late Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, an epic socio-economic ideologue and freedom fighter par excellence. The government of Uttar Pradesh established University as sheer an affiliating university. The university assumed the shape of a residential University in the year 1984. In the ab initio the residential segment became functional with the opening of the four departments in the campus viz. history, Culture and Archaeology, Rural Economics, Mathematics and Statistics and Solid State Physics.

Being adhered to the dictum ‘slow and steady wins the race’, this university had been incessantly growing. Under the prolific and peerless leadership of visionaries and Vice-Chancellors the work-culture of the university had witnessed a phenomenal and revolutionary change. It is under his leadership of revolutionaries and visionaries that the old dictum about work-culture had been altogether replaced by the dictum, ‘Fast and forthwith progress of the university’ in its every walk of life. At campus level the University had been conducting Under Graduate / Post Graduate studies and researches in the disciplines of Economics, Mathematics & Statistics, Bio-Chemistry, Microbiology, Environmental Sciences and M.B.A. Besides, the subjects of Extension Education & Rural Development, Mass Communication & Journalism, M.S.W., and Library Science and Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.). To give an added fillip and to strengthen the residential set up a variety of courses in the umpteen disciplines of Under Graduate and Post Graduate studies were being launched in the campus in the academic session 2005-06.

Affiliated colleges spread over the 9 districts of Faizabad, Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Ambedkarnagar, Barabanki, Balrampur, Baharaich, Shravasti and Gonda also add to the magnitude and strength of the University. The successful conduction of academic activities, continuous endeavor for quality improvement, commitment towards perfection and excellence in the University would, beyond doubt, turn this University into one of the leading Universities of the nation.

Professor Vijay Kumar Pandey, a historian in his own right and an articulate person, was the one with whom I met first in the University. He was dean of the Faculty of Arts and Head of the Department with History and Archaeology departments. He himself was an archaeologist and had excavated many sites of historical importance in nearby areas.

I met him at his residence in the professor’s colony. He was living with his rather young wife. He was not blessed with children. When I was making a documentary with French filmmaker Dominique DeluzeI took Dominique to meet Professor Pandey. He recalled that meeting and asked me for a copy of the documentary. And as I told him how cynical Dominique was and narrated how I was involved in designing “The Nose of the News”, lecturing assignments and web search on space exploration, he randomly asked me to teach the need importance of Archaeology in the Space Science.

I was amazed at his intelligence. When most scientists believe that Space Science was purely a subject of science, the man in front of me was talking about the core and very basic thing which all space missions (manned or unmanned) do when they reach a lunar surface or another planet (in case of unmanned missions NASA had launched to various planets).

I decided to take this challenge. A person of such a great eminence had trusted me and I never wanted to betray him. This was a new concept, a challenging topic to tell the minute things of importance of Archaeology in Space Science.

So in February 2005 I started my unwritten association with the Professor and the University for which I was rarely paid and which lasted until the next year when I got a contract for lectureship in another University in the same region.

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