Amidst margaritas, tequila shots and mojitos I surreptitiously made my way to the patio to make that late night mandatory call to my source just before the newspaper goes to press for printing. It was a Saturday evening and the party was at my house since today was my weekly off. Mind you I worked on a Sunday too and this was a huge dilemma to my family and friends. And I had to give an explanation to everyone who heard this.
“What? You work on Sundays?”- was a question I had heard for seven years, to which I had a tailor made response explaining the nuances of the workings of the world of journalism, the Indian print media to be precise.
Now on that Saturday, amidst loud music and guests who were ‘high-spirited’ in all possible ways, I made my way for that quick call. But unfortunately, the call lasted long because it was about an important development for which we had to stop press. The first case of H1N1 influenza popularly known as swine flu had just been detected in Bengaluru and that was the front page news!
It had to be published on next day’s paper and that too in all editions. So shutting myself out from the party in my house, I sat in the patio making numerous calls to get in all the details for next day’s front page news, key in the story, call the bureau chief, the resident editor and the night duty reporter explaining them the details. All this amidst knocks on the glass pane of the sliding door by guests who kept gesturing me to come in. I was the host of the party, remember?
When I stepped into the party, after an hour, I was greeted amidst groans, “Come on, not on your off day! Why do you have to make calls on your day off?” While I tried to explain that I have accountability for my beat and that my phone can never be off, I actually asked myself, “Why not? Why can’t I enjoy a simple single day off?”
And lo and behold! As if someone up there was listening to my qualms and took note of every time I yearned for a peaceful, sans work calls, day off. Come fast forward to a few years from then and here I am with umpteen days off, sitting in a foreign country, where I do not have the permit to work. When we, as a family, were taking this decision about shifting base to the United States of America because of my husband’s project, it was the worn out girl, yearning for a break who jumped into it and said ‘yes, we will move.’ But after half a decade of sitting here, waiting for a work permit in this foreign land, reminiscing every call at an odd hour, every ‘stop press’ moment, every crisis situation, the journalist in me is torn apart.
So here’s a shout out to every girl out there, sweating it out, trying to balance between professional and personal, always remember you all are doing great just the way it is. Those partially attended guests, the half-baked cakes, the kitchen-hacks for dinner are all acceptable to accommodate those tight targets and deadlines, because giving your best to both of these aspects is what makes you who you are!
About the Author
Sanchita Sen is a journalist who has worked extensively with several leading dailies like Times Group and Deccan Chronicle in India, covering hardcore news beats like crime, human interest and healthcare. Currently, based in Arizona in the United States of America, she's finding her space in the world of authors, and has co-authored a composite Novel named 'Crossed & Knotted' and another anthology named 'Rudraksha'.