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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont
Some of my moments at India Currents took my breath away. The adrenalin rush of having a conversation with an admired icon like Mira Nair was intoxicating, and I was quickly addicted. Sometimes a job can be so much fun that one has to be careful. Abba’s song Nina the Pretty Ballerina cautions: “Cause she knows the fun would go away, if you can do it everyday.”
Being that close to fame and celebrity can make you feel like a fangirl at times, or at least a lucky imposter. When I was chatting with Kal Penn, a young woman at CAAM reminded me that for those of us “in the business,” seeing celebrities is a common occurrence. It’s no big deal.
But it was always a big deal, and a privilege, talking to people who were making ground-shatteringly relevant and impactful work. Realizing that the young woman answering your questions with a slight Marathi accent really was Deepika Padukone. And that Gurinder Chadha had said “Thank you, Geeta” and you did not mind at all that she had excised a few syllables from your name. Or that when Nandita Das had spoken of Nawaz’s beautiful eyes in a Stanford auditorium, it was like a shared confidence.
There are the chagrin moments too, when you feel that you are not a real reporter. That you gushed too much like a starstruck girl. That Farhan Akhtar had laughed when you forgot the name of his first film Dil Chaahta Hai and he had said “I liked it too.”
Sometimes there are constraints imposed by handlers. When you have an entire conversation with Rakesh Omprakash Mehra, and realize that — had you actually seen the film — it would have been a very different conversation. Or those handlers find your questions too political (in the Gurinder Chadha article), or request you to delete some parts, (in the case of Harleen Singh), to keep some parts off the record.
These days, in between trying to tame the ungraded student paper pile or the dirty dishes pile, I’m trying to put my India Currents articles together for a book (coming soon, hopefully!). These were written when I was sometimes so excited about writing, mealtimes got delayed and vacation packing got pushed to the last minute…
There are so many people to thank for this journey. My spouse Salil, who shouldered the heavy lifting of the household finances and making sure the bills were paid. Thanks are due to Vandana Kumar, publisher of India Currents, for her resilience, and Jaya Padmanabhan, an editor who spread excellence, and who edited my award-winning article. Thanks are due to former editors Vidya Pradhan, who edited my first article, and for colleagues like Mona Shah and Ritu Marwah, with whom I giggled like a schoolgirl, and sometimes still do.
I am back in a classroom these days, with students from Saint Mary’s College of California wanting to know what I think of Roe vs Wade, and writing down things I say. I continue to feel like a lucky imposter.