A fledgling reporter learns he can fly

Suggested lanes: two. Actual lanes: at least three. Scooters, auto-rickshaw s, cars and buses jam Bangalore's streets for hours each day, stretching a 20-minute trip to more than an hour. (Photo: Vandana Rambaran)

Suggested lanes: two. Actual lanes: at least three. Scooters, auto-rickshaw s, cars and buses jam Bangalore’s streets for hours each day, stretching a 20-minute trip to more than an hour. (Photo: Vandana Rambaran)

Wednesday, June 3—I am still early in the journalism program, having completed only four classes. When my first day of interviews came around yesterday, I feared that my limited interviewing experience hadn’t prepared me for the half a dozen interviews I had within two days.

That alone would not have been particularly troubling if earlier in the day I had not had the single worst phone call of my life. I was attempting to set up an interview with the police department for one of my stories. The conversation went so badly that the deputy commissioner of police, the second in charge throughout the entire city, hung up the phone on me.

I was in a state of utter terror as my interview drew nearer, but another student, a professor and the group’s fixer managed to calm me down over lunch.

Later, I was interviewing bookstore owners for one of my stories. I was still nervous that I did not have the experience needed to carry out full interviews, and so trusted a fellow student, Peter Dorr, translator James Kiran and, later, our fixer, Dipti Kumar, to help ask the questions that I could not think of in time.

After four bookstore interviews, I realized I had enough material that moving on to another story was a viable option.

The next day was the true challenge. A panel of local journalists told me that I could walk in to police headquarters to get an interview instead of calling to set one up. To me, this seemed too good to be true, but it turned out to be completely correct.

Within a few minutes of entering the building, Officer Vasant Bhagwat showed us the Traffic Management Center and agreed to answer any questions about the technological side of traffic control. After interviewing him, he directed us towards the Commissioner of Bangalore police for another interview.

The commissioner was out at the time, and so I decided to come back another day.

In a little over a day, I had gone from questioning whether I should have gone on the trip to being on top of all of my stories and confident that I could write the articles I am working on. — Kevin Matyi

 

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