Time: around 6 pm
Date: 25 September
Place: Centrepoint, Al Khuwair
Nothing significant about the date, time or the venue, but on that day, around that time at Centrepoint, something tugged my journalism roots. Read that as someone – some people, actually. Standing there, gawkily (when you are five foot nothing, gawkily is the only way you can stand), my eyes strayed on to a couple of Western-looking faces that somehow didnt seem to belong in that ambience. No, not because they looked Western, content, perhaps. They had the typical Arabic scarves (google tells me they are called shemagh scarves) casually thrown around their shoulders as they floated (yes, floated explains their frisky pace better) around the aisles of clothes hanger racks.
I was browsing through the piled up pants, picking the ones dropped down by careless shoppers with a why-the-heck-do-they-drop-it mutter under my breath and well hoping I would find the darned size in that black pant, which I had got in for exchange after being berated by my sons for not yet realising that they were BIG and needed a 30″ waist. It was getting late and I was out the whole day. Not shopping, general work that is.
Come to the point, Suzy!
This should be enough hint to realise that journalism is effectively on the way out (of my life, I mean). Have forgotten the importane of the ‘lead’ and all the 6 W’s and 1 H. (Read that as 5 W’s. The last W is for – Woohoo you have gone cuckoo).
Now about those shemagh draped boys…
I saw them again. From close quarters. There were 2 of them with a couple of middle-aged men. The boys looked very familiar. And as I kept staring at them (They were oblivious of my stares. Diminutive folks have that advantage of blending into everything, even the clothes rack) I saw another familiar face. It was of a slim girl with short cropped hair. When I say familiar, understand it as familiarity of the celebrity (media) kind.
And thats when my jaw dropped to the cold floor and it hit me that I was staring at the American hikers who were released during the weekend from Iran after long imprisonment on charges of spying. And that that girl was Sarah Shourd. I read later that she is engaged to Shane Bauer, one of the just released hikers.
I simply kept staring, wondering what I’d do if it was back in those days when I wore a reporter’s tag. I made my partner stare at them too. ‘Be more discreet,’ I told him though. Open staring is only for diminutive folks like me.
Would I have walked up to them and asked them for a quote or two? Not sure, considering how the media worked in a closed-box ambience those days. But if I were one today, yes, of course. English print media has finally come of age and theres ample evidence in my daily paper.
Do I miss being a reporter? Again, not sure. Age has ‘almost’ done me in. But I would be lying if I said I dont miss the energy, the constant chatter, the palpitations of nearing deadlines… Miss it all the time.
I can see myself calling up the editor and screaming ‘I have got a scoop’, may be even shouting ‘stop press’ – have always wanted to do that – and then rushing back to office and keying in an exclusive front-page story – ‘American hikers on a shopping spree’!
Thank god for imagination!