A mood assignment had landed me in Byculla to profile BMC’s dangerous buildings. Let me take you there-
Year 2009. The month is May and a mid morning sun is beating mercilessly down.
Somewhere past Rani Baug, the photographer and I get off the cab to ask for directions. The address reads Botawala Chawl. “This only,” mutters a lean boy of around 18 darting his eyes over to a nearby structure. Then he sizes us up with both curiosity and a hint of irritation. He does not smile when we thank him. With a swift turn he is gone. I watch him walk over to his friends and hear his intentionally loud comment.
“Poor India, hungry India dekhne aaye hain.”
The words stay with me long after I have left the chawl. I file my story quietly and lay in bed later that night wondering why poverty has been reduced to newsbits that go well with a cup of coffee the next morning.
To earn the bread and butter that completes this breakfast, I have sold out.
PS- A daft part of my 20-year-old rookie reporter’s mind still wants to do meaningful work that impacts society. Blergh.