Ages 0-13: Irrelevant.
14: Sips toddy; wakes up shaken.
14: Rides a 50 cc motorcycle.
15: Plays Shylock in The Merchant of Venice; girls love the villain. Heroes never take risks, do they?
16: Self-drives car, crashes it. Forgets to turn the steering back. Idiot.
17: Changes school 4 times.
18: Fails miserably; STEM is not for me.
20-23: Shuts myself in a dingy cellar. Studies literature; reads a lot.
23: The smell of monsoon-soaked newsprint lures; Tops University with a Master’s degree in journalism.
23-24: Learns the art of writing crisp copy. Publishes first article in The Sunday Observer.
24: Gets first newspaper job at The Patriot, New Delhi.
24: Leads a stray life. Eats kebabs, aimlessly walks the streets of old Delhi.
26: Runs away from The Asian Age, M J Akbar’s start up and my first toxic workplace.
27: Comes to terms with the past, marriage is arranged.
27: Becomes jobless a week after marriage. Newspaper owner sells paper to run his cement factory. Didn’t realize that private equity would own newspapers in future.
28: Unemployed for the first time. Knocks on countless doors for a job in New Delhi’s hottest summer. Learns empathy.
28: Leaves India for Doha, Qatar. My first plane ride.
29-32: Practices journalism in a world of self-censorship. Gets nice new job but jealous sheikh won’t transfer visa.
32: Plan B: Leaves for the US; earns a scholarship at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism; Arizona State University.
33: Gets another master’s; meets Walter Cronkite.
34-Tries to hang around in the US; plans to convert my F1 to the infamous H1B. I had no clue that it existed!
35-45: I begin my days reading “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett. A decade of my life is wasted waiting for a Green Card that never arrives! I am at the the mercy of employers, immigration lawyers, and the infamous Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). (Most lawyers were glorified grant writers who would mail papers to the INS and then charge me a big fee. I later learned they had hefty student loans).
46: I finally get my green card, thanks to an activist’s lawsuit.
Eventually, I earn citizenship. In 2020, I realize that we have a long, long way to go to create an equitable society. Time for a reset.