Posts Tagged ‘journalism’

roses1Lutherius from Ex-Pentecostal Thoughts writes:

I think one of the most important things an Ex-Pentecostal person should do is to make sure that the majority of social contacts in their circle are non-Pentecostal. I cannot stress this enough. Remember that Pentecostalism isolates you from the wider community because it is so weird. When you are sufficiently isolated, they can manipulate you because you do not have an outside source of challenge to the insanity within.

However, as an Ex-Pentecostal, you must actively and boldly fight this tendency toward isolation. Some of us might whine and complain that it is hard to do; however, we must do it. If we find problems in this area, we probably have terrible social skills and can use some professional counseling to improve our Emotional Intelligence. We must connect with other people. Think of the times of despair you had recently as an Ex-Pentecostal.

I would bet that a large portion of this anxiety and despair was because you felt isolated, lonely and afraid. We did not consider our options. We were not connected to the larger community of non-Pentecostals to offset the radical de-socializing effects of Pentecostalism. We sat alone, and we suffered alone.

Make sure that the overwhelming majority of people in your social circle are non-Pentecostals. THIS IS EXREMELY IMPORTANT! So, please, broaden yourself socially. This is extremely important. After we broaden ourselves socially, we should also broaden ourselves in other areas like careers and hobbies. I think that we are capable of a hundred times more things than Pentecostalism would allow us to think. Pentecostalism restricts our ambition, our creativity and our consideration of the World of Options. There are millions of options that we were never exposed to within Pentecostalism. Pentecostalism straight-jacketed our brains into not even being able to see our options.

Am I glad I became a journalist, I doubt I could have met so many people and so many ideas, that questioned my beliefs. Sometimes, I regret the fact that my education was a little crippled because of the ideology.roses-letter

I loved story books, but couldn’t read as many as I liked. I loved films, but couldn’t see them at all; only in secret with my college friends. I loved journalism, but was told the Godly thing to do might be to join CBN, God TV or Blessings when I held only contempt for them for the propaganda-driven, money-making machines that they were.

Am I so deeply thankful that something like journalism happened in my life. Otherwise I would have never had the ideological support, financial Independence or the friends to break free from something that was so invasive and destructive.

Oh My God! To think how many of my natural inclinations I have suppressed for an unnatural ideology. Songs like “Y.M.C.A, Fool’s Garden Lemon Tree, Ace of Base’s All that she wants or  Madonna’s Like a Prayer” had to be smuggled into the house. I would have sold my soul for a TLC’s No scrubs or Guns N Roses record then. It used to be so tantalizing just hearing a few strains of pop-music at my friend’s place. When someone gave me a second-hand record of Michael Jackson’s Smooth Criminal…I played it again and again and again till the tape broke. I think when I grew up, Illayaraja was the big rage – I used to jam my ear against our kitchen ventilator (I was a latch-key kid so there was no one at home to watch my crazy antics) to hear songs from Mouna Ragam & Punnagai Mannan that my neighbour played. Luckily, in a crowded locality like Mandaveli, there were a lot of family functions being held – so every time they played those loud cinema songs on those street-to-street loudspeakers, I would be glued to my seat on the window-sill listening to them. Even now there are many movie songs I love, that I have never seen the visuals of; for instance “Andhi Mazhai” or “Dil tho Pagal Hai.”

Even after I turned 20, I was banned from reading corrupting books like “Harry Potter” and “The Da Vinci Code.” Mills & Boons, Barbara Cartland, Georgette Heyer or even teen romance series. In college, when I was given pocket-money for travel expenses and lunch…I would buy grapes or some fruit for Rs 10, then travel by bus and raid the nearby lending library with the remaining amount. Of course, the library account near my college was a secret – I had another library account that my parents opened for me, but that used to be functional only during the holidays when it was ok to read books.

Sometimes, I think I did a good job of enjoying myself despite all the restrictions. There is a saying, isn’t it? “Stolen mangoes from the neighbour’s garden are sweeter.” I developed innovative methods by which I would read books by stealth. After 10′ o clock lights off – I would keep the book on the floor and read from the slit of light coming under the door.

rose1I would keep story books inside the covers of my textbook and pretend I was seriously involved in my school work. I got caught often with this method. It thrilled me to bits, when my grandfather once told me, my father used to do the same thing (story book inside textbook) when he was supposed to be studying for his board exams. That revelation and unearthing my dad’s school report card, gave me a great defense argument, when my father started lecturing me to study. My dad’s report card was exactly the same as mine:

Hindi & Marathi – 25% to 38% (Same as me, I would fail in Tamil or pass with border-line marks)

Maths, English- 80 – 90% (Again the same as me)

Physics, Chem, Bio, Social studies – 50 % – 75 % (Me & my dad seem to be identical twins in our academic career)

Anyway, getting hold of my dad’s school report cards, became his Achilles heel; he could no longer scold me for not studying, since he had apparently done the same thing 🙂

Most of my friends think I am eccentric, because of my complete lack of knowledge of popular music, popular culture and popular books. People think I am one of those scholarly types – because I am well-versed in the classics. This was not due to any “high-brow” taste of mine, but  due to the simple fact that all books other than classics were banned in the house.

But I am so thankful to those friends of mine, who stuck by me, even when I was a over-the-top God fearing person. My friends in school and college were my mainstay, anchor and emotional support. It always struck me as ironical that Christians were always over-critical of me, while my non-Chrisitian friends were fine with me just as I was.

This post was to say, I am happy to have come this far. I still have a lot to do; catching up culturally – watching Tamil masala movies + those award winning art movies, reading to my heart’s content and just learning to enjoy life 🙂

I suddenly realised that this post sounds like the only complaints I had against the system was not allowed to read fiction, watch movies or hear songs. I had very strong differences of opinion and there were other things that hurt. What I am posting is what I am comfortable in sharing. There were much larger issues at stake.

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I know this post is probably going to put off most people, who deem financial reporting boring and obtuse. Most general reporters feel business journalists are the guys who have it easy; the guys who attend press conferences that are scheduled for lunch, tea, high-tea or dinner; the guys who only re-write press releases and the guys for whom exclusives don’t make or break their careers.

Working for general newspapers for more than three years, I was prejudiced against business reporting. It took a tremendously talented boss and the AIG bailout for me to realise that finance is a wonderful world.

I’m finding words like stocks, repo, reverse-repo, CRR, solvency margins absolutely fascinating!

Also John Grisham books suddenly seem to have taken greater importance in my life. Tales of money laundering, swiss bank accounts and tax havens are proving to be fascinating reads.

Did you know that many of the re-insurance companies in the world are based in Bermuda because of the tax exclusion benefits? I was actually reading a run-of-the-mill press release, when I came upon the line…”reinsurance company based in Bermuda.” I was intrigued by that line and checked up to find that its not just re-insurance companies, but many other companies like banks, insurance companies, assurance companies, fund managers and investment consultants – whose working force is small and geographical locations don’t hamper operations – also opt for tax havens like Bermuda. What was also very interesting was that the very first tax haven was the Vatican City.

Even the nitty-gritties can prove interesting. I didn’t know that tax avoidance, tax evasion and tax fraud are totally different activities until I spoke with a lawyer. India is of course not likely to forget the hawala scam, one of the biggest and most amibitious cases of money laundering that got exposed.

And Wikipedia has become my bible. KYC – Know Your Customer is an anti-money laundering mechanism adopted by banks. Many of the bank regulations and the US Patriots Act are formulated to maitain the checks and balances in the system. But after seeing Farenheit 9/11 and being a regular reader of Counterpunch.org, I am able to see the common man’s point of view and how laws can violate human rights and invade privacy in the name of “national security” and “anti-terrorism measures.”

Even in India laws like POTA and TADA were more misused than used. MDMK Vaiko’s imprisonment was the height of misuse of POTA; political vendetta at its meanest. I was glad when POTA was repealed, but now it looks like it might make a come back in a sterner avatar.

And now since elections are round the corner or because they don’t have any issue to rake up, Tamil nationalism or jingoism has again become the trump card for Tamil Nadu politicians. I think Tamil is a great language. I also have great sympathy for Sri Lankan Tamils, who are the victims of both the Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE. But I don’t see why I should suddenly become proud of being a Tamilian, just because DMK MPs are suddenly overcome with grief at the atrocities being pepetrated against Sri Lankan Tamils. Karunanidhi of course has not said anything about his “thambi Prabhakaran” after the PM’s assasination.

But, I digress. Anyway resolution of the week is to finish reading the Business Standard, Economic Times and the Business Line, back-to-back between 6-8 in the morning; provided I’m able to get up at 5 and finish the cooking. I’m also reading the Malhotra Committee report on the insurance reforms needed post-1993 liberalisation. Planning a post on it once I get through reading this labour-intensive (hard on my eyes, which have a tendency to droop when faced with non-fiction) report.

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The rules of grammar can be broken in journalism, if it makes the headlines/straps more interesting. I have found that at times pun or play on Siamese twins makes arresting headlines. For the uninitiated Siamese twins are idioms that are inseparable like hammer and tongs, thick and thin, hide and seek, etc.

One of my earliest recollections is The Hindu’s editorial on the unrest Nepal, in the heading went “Of coups and carnages,” a good play on Lewis’s poem…. Of kings and cabbages in Alice in Wonderland.

Another Hindu headline that split a Siamese twin (trinomial) with good effect was: “Now every Tom, Dick & Hari owns a BMW” instead of Tom, Dick and Harry

But then another article in DC on why plump women need not panic over weight gain with the header “the big, the fat and the ugly” had dubious implications. So its all in the usage, I guess.

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