Last October, quite out of the blue, Nanni Singh, sent me a flyer on Whatsapp. It was an application form for the Top 40 Under 40 English Journalists in India – a recognition that was being awarded for the first time by the well-known media group exchange4media.
Nanni is an angel of a human being who entered my life a few years ago. I do some content writing for her and in the process, she has become a mentor and friend. When I read the details, I immediately asked her if I even qualified, considering I’ve only been in the profession for a couple of years. As an independent writer, I was also worried I didn’t quite fit into ‘media person’ category. But she encouraged me to go for it.
After some hemming and hawing, and consulting my family, I decided there was no harm in trying. The application procedure itself was fairly easy to follow – there were some essay-style questions and a video entry, along with a minor registration fee. And then, it was time to sit and wait. And wait. And wait some more.
When nothing happened for 3-4 months, I began to feel that the award ceremony had perhaps been shelved. Moments of self-doubt had me going through their website to see if they had already announced the results and I hadn’t made the cut! But fortunately, that wasn’t the case. Finally, after six months, I got a call from their representative informing me that I had been shortlisted for the next round and I would have to go through a Zoom interview with their judges – a panel consisting of the best journalists in the country – before the final results were announced.
That’s when the real jitters hit! Hahaha. Why do exams and interviews make us nervous no matter our age or station in life?! Anyway, on the appointed day and hour I joined in the Zoom call and saw a number of up-and-coming young journalists in my session. Most of them were in their 20s and almost all were TV journalists. As an independent writer, I felt quite out of place!! Then I was finally called in to the interview session. It was disconcerting because we could not see the people who were asking us the questions, nor could we see ourselves answer the questions, as the screen had our introduction essay plastered on it for the benefit of the judges.
They asked a couple of pertinent and thought-provoking questions, which I answered to the best of my ability, and then in under five minutes, the interview was over.
I went about my life for another month, and a day before I was leaving the country to visit the Maldives, I received a call that I had been selected in the Top 40 Under 40 English Journalists in India, and I felt soooo happy and overwhelmed.
It was such an incredible feeling to receive recognition for a job that I’ve carved out for myself, without a degree or proper education in the field, and purely on the dint of my passion for writing. When I went on stage and accepted my trophy – as one of only two print journalists in the list as well as one of only two freelance journalists – all I could think of was myself as a 9-year-old girl, writing endlessly in my little journal.
It’s been quite an interesting journey so far. Here’s hoping for many many more milestones in my writing career… Thank you everyone for your support and for reading!
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