My Indian Summer

 

Opportunity may not always knock on your door, but you can certainly knock on its door, which is exactly what I did this past summer.

As a graduating journalism student, it’s a requirement to get three credits through a working internship at a news organization. Living in New York, there are plenty news organizations you can intern with. However, I may eventually end up working for one of them after graduation and possibly for the rest of my life.

As a person always seeking adventure, I applied for a summer internship in New Delhi, India. I had visited Indiabefore and made some friends over there. So I asked around to see if they could recommend me to people in NDTV (New Delhi Television), which is one of the oldest and most prestigious news channel in India. Luckily, it took me one email to start corresponding with NDTV at the beginning of this year. I got an invitation for an internship by the end of January.

After the infamous gang rape cases in New Delhi, my friends and family worried for my safety and questioned whether I should do this internship or not.  At the same time the journalism department was not too sure I had a doable summer fieldwork. No one in journalism department had done an international internship before. The mandatory one-on-one meeting with the professor every week was already hard enough, but moving to a different time zone and any unpredictable circumstances made the decision harder for the department.

I was sure that I wanted this and I didn’t want to let this opportunity slide. I was even ready to go on my own expense and didn’t even care if the college gave me credit for it. However, after I kept pushing it to the department, it eventually worked out.

After I got approval from the English department, they suggested that I apply for the Study Abroad scholarship. It is a great scholarship program here at York, the dean of Student Development issues grants to students who are eligible. There are some requirements that are needed, for instance, students need to have at least a 3.0 GPA, a strong academic background and participation in extracurricular activities. I was surprised to know that this program existed. I was ready to fund my own trip and take no credits, but by April, I got the check for $2300 from the Student Development office and I got the green light for summer fieldwork by the department.

It can be a hard decision to leave your country to go somewhere foreign where you don’t know what you are getting into. Taking a chance requires a lot of courage, I’m glad I did it because the three months I spent in India was an experience of lifetime.

I left N.Y. at the start of June and flew straight to New Delhi. My friends in India offered me a place to stay. Since it was a longer stay I had to get accustomed to the lifestyle, the people and the  transportation. It took me a few days to get used to the scorching heat at the 100 degree weather.

I even got sick with chronic stomach virus, I could not leave my room for four days. However, don’t let that discourage you, it only lasted few days. After a few nightmarish days, I woke up to start my first day at the job.

The NDTV office was in GK1 (Greater Kailash 1), which was a 40 minute drive from where I lived. I mostly commuted in an auto rickshaw, they would also drop you back from the office after 8 p.m, since it was quite dangerous for a girl to be out late. It was mid June, the early monsoon hit the northern parts of India and the state of Himachal Pradesh was in chaos. Thousands of people died in the flood.

This was also the time that I joined the office. I was introduced to the news desk by HR, I don’t remember anyone looking at me to say hello, everyone was busy with the content flow of news or the news making. I was supposed to be supervised on how everything worked in newsroom, but they barely had any time for me.

Someone quickly ran through the news system and showed me around a bit, but I had nothing particular to do. I followed the Chief Editor everywhere. Since it was an hourly live broadcast, duties changed and I had to figure out who was in charge and shadow them in the newsroom, editing and graphics room and the production control room.

I couldn’t participate too much since I was untrained and they didn’t want to risk giving me the responsibility for an on-air show. After a mutual understanding of the situation, I decided to switch departments.

I was sent to production the next week, where a producer and his team were working on “The Ganga Project.”Ganges is the holy river in India and it is an integral part of Hindu rituals and culture. The project was to make the people aware of that fact that the river was becoming highly polluted by industrialization and over growth of population. My primary roles as a production assistant was to check, transcribe and ingest footages, help the editor to edit, research and fact check.

After learning some production skills, I was moved to the “documentary department.” I was working with a 30-minute show on the weekend called “India Matters,” where they focused on the social, religious and political issues of India. In addition to what I was already doing, I was also asked to help the camera man, go on shoots and hold SimSats (an interview of a source on camera via telephone without the presence of a host.) Towards the end of my internship I was working for one of the most famous 30-minute weekend shows on NDTV called “Truth Vs. Hype,” which is an investigative journalistic show that focuses on political and social corruption in India.

Working in production and documentaries opened up a whole new world for me, I loved the fact that documentaries had an elaborate way of reporting. One can choose a diverse way to tell the story and depending on the show, you generally have more time to report and research, whereas newsrooms were always chaotic. I was obsessed with documentaries, I took time out to make some personal documentaries on different parts of Delhi.

After coming back from India, I found out that the Communications Technology department was offering a new portrait documentary course. I had an option to do one more internship and I applied at CUNY TV at channel 75 as a production assistant intern. Now I am working with them on a monthly magazine format show called “Asian American Life.”

I would really encourage students to get out of their comfort zone and try and make the impossible possible. The three months I spent in India not only taught me about different forms of journalism but also a different way of life. I got to see how people in India think and live. I got to travel to seven different states in India, including Mumbai, Kolkata, Goa and Agra.

I learned that people in developing countries might not have all the resources that we have here in America but they make the best of what they have. I worked till 1 a.m. for many weeks, but I felt like I did nothing compared to other journalists. Most of all, I realized that bad  things could happen in the best of places, but it does not mean that you back out from an amazing opportunity.

 

Original post on Pandora’s Box Newspaper
http://pbwire.cunycampuswire.com/2013/11/03/indian-summer/

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The big Fishes

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An Auto experience…mostly sweaty !!

If you are familiar with “Bollywood Cinema” you will adapt a perception that when a pretty girl is standing by street, she can get a ride/lift from any passerby or that is how it always worked in the movies. I had a similar anticipation, I had visited India before but never had to travel alone, but now that I am living here for couple months and have to commute on daily basis on my own, I have encountered many interesting moments with “Bhaiyajees” (Auto Rickshaw drivers).

Picture 004

Most mornings, I walk up to them and very sweetly ask them “Bhaiya GK1 Chaloge? (Brother, will u go to GK1 ?)”, this drivers shoo me off, “Nahi jana, aage chalo! (Not going, move on)” of coarse I had asked them why, they generally get annoyed, never really got a real answer, sometimes they would say something stupid like “ mood nahi hai (I am not in Mood)” I guess they are after all king of their own decisions.
That goes on for a while, and I walk up to one Auto after another but to my dismay mostly same answers, I end up standing in the scorching hot and humid Delhi streets, sweating like I am in a Hot Yoga studio, but Auto drivers show no mercy for my poor soul, no matter how sweet and cute I try to look and talk to them.

Auto’s have their terms and conditions, a fixed rate and mostly they refuse to use their fare meter, even though the Transportation Department of New Delhi has announced that Autos can’t refuse service to their customers, nor can they name their own price, use of fare-meter is Mandatory.

photo

I tried to get advice from Delhi locals, they suggested I should threat them and remind them of the transportation department rules, or to take pictures of their license plate and warn to report. I tried all of those, but it only worked one out of five times maybe, and in return I got mad Auto driver that I would worry about my safety in their vehicle.
One of the driver after raging at me for my negotiation skills, drove like a maniac and hit the curve several times, timidly I asked if he doesn’t not care about his Auto’s well being, and why is he so reckless. The answer was pretty unexpected, “My brakes are loose if I don’t hit the curve, and you want me to hit other cars or people, what do you want?” I sat there quiet, I couldn’t think of an answer.
However, there has been good days, when I am lucky, when I need not to beg, remind rules, negotiate or disgust myself, but these are special kind of drivers, they are what I call “the chit chatters” they want to know everything about you, they love to converse. Here some interesting examples of some conversations I have had.

Auto Driver: App kaha se ho madam ?(Where are you from Madam?)
Me: New York se (From NY)
Auto: Accha, America wala New York ? ( Oh,The NY which is America?)
Me: Ha jee, New York khali America me hi hai (Yes, NY is only in America, nowhere else)
Auto: Waha bhi Auto hai kya ? ( Is there an auto in America?)
Me: No. (all smiles)

Another auto driver, this particular day I was wearing a dress, kind of short for India, I realized that after being stared by every single human being I walked across. (perhaps animals too, or thats how it felt like)

Auto: Madam, Aise kapada pehena alcha lagta hai kya? (Madam, you like wearing these kind of cloths?)
Me: Ha, garmi hai na, aru maine laundry nahi ki (Yes, it’s too hot and I haven’t done my laundry so ran out of cloths)
Auto: To gharr pe bethte na, kyu duniya ko tahalip dete ho ? (so why didn’t you stay home spare the men of the world)
Me: I was basically speechless.
Auto: Sadi to nahi hui hogi ? (I am sure you are not married)
Me: kyu ? (Why?)
Auto: Hui hoti to to apka marad apko aise nahi nikalne deta (If you were married, you man won’t let you out like this)

Picture 003

Picture 001

Besides the craziness of Autowalas, there are a lot other entertainment in the streets the never-ending traffic, no one knows the use of lanes, the street bums and children constantly nagging you for money and the crazy motorcyclist, who think they can get away squeezing in wherever they want, disregarding the fact they have a passenger in the back (sometimes more than one.) It is quite an experience if you ask me and I wont trade it for the world.

Picture 006

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Graduation Program at Columbia School of Physical Therapy.

The school of Physical Therapy at 165th street, had their 72nd graduation on May 21st, 2013. Out of 60 graduating students, 95% were all women, in the opening remarks the Director of the program Risa Granick joked about how women cared more about helping patience and being a heler then men do, hence justified the huge difference in the gender population in the graduating class.
photo 2 (4)
(Welcoming the Graduating students with round of applause, to be seated for the ceremony)

Like any other graduation program, the program schedule had a list of tedious activities like the congratulation speech, Award ceromany and Thank you notes. But everyone got to the edge of their seats, during a very moving speech my a guest speaker Matt Long. Long was a career Fireman and a active sportsperson participating in multiple marathones, one unfortune day on December 22nd 2005 he was hit by a Bus, causing his fatal injusries.
In the 18 months before the accident, he had competed in more than 20 events including several triathlons and marathons and had qualified for running’s most prestigious race, the Boston Marathon. After the accident, his doctor told him he’d be lucky if he could even walk without a cane.
photo 3 (4)
( Long during his speech in the ceremony)
“It is a miracle that I can walk now, I though I never could, its amazing how true will power works anything against nature. My Physical Therapist was also a Columbia graduate, pushed me to a limit, I use to say these two words repeatedly, “I cant” she would reply “you will” and I did..eventually I walked.” Said Long.
Long recovered from his injuries, and was included on the list of the world’s 25 fittest men published by Men’s Fitness in 2010. He completed the the boston marathon and also wrote a book about his experience called the “The long run.”
photo 4 (3)
(Students personal message and picture collage at the background while they receive their graduating cape/ certificate)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

NYU Capstone Program Project Summaries.

NYU graduating students of International development program collaborated a presentation for their final project, where they made conceptual review of international local organisation all over the world, some students travelled half way around the world to undertand and review as a consultant for many different organization.
The Capstone Program is a resource for nonprofits, government agencies, health institutes, Urban planning firms, international NGOs, and private organisations with public service component.
Capstone brings together teams of NYU Wagner graduate students with client organizations over an academic year. Project teams research important issues, address complex challenges, and identify opportunity key to organizational growth.

Morgan MacIver a presenting student did her research on domestic violence in New York state office for the prevention of domestic violence.
“It is an issue that really does effect the workplace, if someone is a victim of domestic violence, their normal part of the day which is going to work is highly effected. Many people are unaware of the rules against the people and the collateral damage they will suffer if the domestic violence is brought into work, our research brings into light the kind of effects one could have in their professional life in result of the same.” said MacIver.

Another student from the same program Clair Thomas went to Vietnam for their research, contributed on the conceptual review of the assessing fund use and tutoring of the Vietnam SPELL program.
“They pay a small fee,helping us for housing and food and there is fund set up for our plane tickets, the team in Vietnam was really happy with our work and are considering all our recommendation after our final project presentation. Its really great to have completed our project and also effect these kids life in some way.” said Thomas.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

(The gallery of pics of the presentation and the crowd during the event)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

York College event: All around the world and back to Africa

photo (5)
(Flyer of the event posted all around the college)

York College students were able to experience the rich African culture here in the atrium in main campus building of York College today 9th of May, 2013. The event was a collaboration of dance, fashion, comedy and the best of all free food.
York college has a significant number of African American Students, the event like this uplifts the cultural and roots that these students belong to and informs the rest of the diverse students group in the college to understand what they are all about.
The event was organized by York College African Students Association Club from 12-2 Pm. The host of the event were york college students Samson and Segun.
photo (3)
(The crowd at the atrium of York College)
“The traditional african american dance performed by the students was amazing, people who are not from African American or Caribbean heritage, should have an idea of why we are so passionate and so out there, the dance tells a lot about our culture, you know.” said York college student Nene Sangare.
photo (4)
( a glimpse of the african dance performed by students in the atrium)
“I liked the event not only because it had all the ingredients of entertainment, but because it was different for me since i am from a Isalamic background and we do not have anything in common, its very exotic and passionate, the best part was the fashion show.” said York College student Amina Ally.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

First Wax figure of NY Knicks Player at Madame Tussauds.

Carmelo Anthony, aka Melo, who plays forward for NY Knicks was honored with a wax figure in Madame Tussaunds in Time Square New York. In celebration of recent NY Knicks win in playoffs, the wax figure of Melo was displayed in Time Square from 11 Am to noon today May 2nd,2013.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


The director of marketing at Madame Tussaunds Stacy Macgregor said ” New York absolutely loves the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony, he is a great choice from the fans and would make a great attraction to the collection of figures, his family was completely on board and it was a great launch we had several months ago with him and his wife Lala.”

“The wax figure costs about $220,000, so we do go through a long process in order to select the right person, Melo is just a great choice and everyone seems to agree.” Said Public Relation representative Gladwyn Lopez about the event today.

“I haven’t been to Madame Tussaunds, the wax figure looks so real and amazing, its cool that they made this display, makes me want to see more.I have heard about Carmelo Anthony, even though in my country, we prefer soccer over Basketball,” said a tourist from Spain, Ricardo Torres as he was taking pictures with Melo’s Wax Figure.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment