Tuesday, July 6, 2010

On the Internship

Some of you may have been aware that I did an internship at The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India) in June. Uncharacteristic of me, said some on recieving the news. 'Finally at work, eh?' sneered a few other acquaintances. Anyway, I put my nose to the grindstone for a month and embarked on what some would describe as a roller coaster ride. I would not though. I would describe it as bungee jumping.

I, humbly and politely, offered my services to The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India) upon which they sent me a few forms to fill. In that I filled in a lot of garbage, directed them to this blog and informed them of the general trend of ideas in my head. All these should have qualified as reasons not to grant me an opportunity and so I was pleasantly surprised when they said "Welcome, Basil James" as if they were goddamn Gmail. I think the promptness with which I dispatched a DD for a grand as they had instructed may have tipped the balance in my favour.

Soon they sent me a brochure which proclaimed in red "Thou shall not plagiarise" and went on to say that I would be damned and consigned to the deepest and darkest hell with immortal worms and burning fires if I dared to so much as lift a single comma from anywhere. They then proceeded to tell me that I was now a member of a huge international family (six nations to be exact) and was welcomed to feel at home. Demonstrating to me that they do have lawyers at the office of The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India), I was informed sternly and strictly that I was, under no condition,to shirk my duty or walk out on them.

"Clause 6. Some clause that".

"May I read Clause 6?".

"No, don't read Clause 6. It is much better that you do not. You wouldn't sleep nights. You can take it from me that they are some penalties. Haha!".

"Oh. Would I be taken for a ride?".

The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India) smiled quietly but deeply.

With that the welcoming and ingratiating cermony came to an end and we moved on to the brass tacks. They sent me a list of topics, twelve to be exact, on which they wanted articles from me in June. They gave me the freedom to choose topics randomly from the list and so I decided to go with topics 1, 2 and 3 for the first week.

First up was an ad review, my first assignment for the self proclaimed 'Voice of the Youth of India'. I had no problems in becoming a note or two in that booming voice and I followed up with an article about football in my home state of Kerala. It irked me somewhat that the Ed was determined to change the titles I gave my articles, but I could always give and take a bit.

Two weeks of frentic writing ensued on a number of topics. The thing had transformed itself, almost overnight, into a job rather than some useful and interesting mechanism I had found to pass time. It seemed there was some international conspiracy to throw a spanner in to my works as the World Cup came along in the middle of June. It meant that evenings were completely booked, leaving only sleepy mornings for me to fill the web page of The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India). The silver lining in that very dark cloud was that I forced myself to write an article about the Cup in deep sleep. The article was somewhat crappy. It was at this juncture that I realised the Ed would publish most of anything I wrote, regardless of its quality. Not exactly an encouraging thought for me. If I had been running The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India), I would have been extremely reluctant to publish that article. Some underworld don mistaking me for a long forgotten son, I imagine.

Meanwhile, the outside world moved on in its usual fashion and found an inopportune time to butt into me.The tide of events swept me away from my laptop for two whole days, leaving me with close to five hours to write a book review. I was reading Prem Panicker's Bhimsen at that time and with ample help from Binny's blog, I wrote a review. Decent, I thought, if you overlook the reliance on Binny part. I had entered a phase where I rated my article according to my own intellect rather than whether anyone deigned to publish it.

A movie review came next. I dished out the needful without making much ado. Almost all of the few drops of goodwill inside me instilled by the internship had now evaporated under the burning sun of frustration and twenty three bumbling Enlishmen in South Africa. I did not have much cause to be disgruntled and I fancy I wasn't, but I certainly wasn't gruntled. The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India) was not turning out into an establishment I particularly like anymore. Like Gordon Brown, I felt under-valued.

Then came a period in which I kept writting articles on the topics the Ed wanted, but none of them saw the light of the day in the normal time it would take to publish an article. I took out Quality through the back door and shot it in the face. Finally, an article about Maoists got published, breaking a hiatus of almost a week. Quality, once again, made sure people remembered it through its absence. The Ed badly needs to take a course on how to keep its interns, who churn out THREE articles a week, happy.

My next assignment was to write about a disease that affected the youth. I had a gigantic urge to write about Internshipitis, but found out that it did not even have a wiki page, thus rendering the initiative impossible. Another crappy article in the form of an article about about dementia praecox resulted.

I got more pissed at the Ed's habit of changing the titles I gave my articles and substituting them with inane ones. It happened in the case of the Maoist article and then more blatantly in my article on the prospects a chef in the modern world has. I gave it the title 'Whats cookin'?'. The Ed changed it to 'How to become a Chef'.

Things went up hill from there. Although, at that point, I was feeling things could go only up hill from there. An article about an imaginary cat, one about the environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill splashing my name across the roster.

Fortunes changed, as they always do. Two decent pieces about the Greek Debt Crisis and Stem Cell research rejuvenated my spirit and Basil was smiling again.

The month of June wore to a close and I was relieved. I fired off my final assignment, a travelogue. I knew it would prove to be tricky, as I had not travelled to any place worth talking about in recent memory. Inspired by Road Trip, I fabricated a road trip to Kanyakumari and it too duly got published.

I was thus left in peace to enjoy the last eleven days of the World Cup. In retrospect, I guess the internship was an useful thing to do. If anything, it forced me to do some research and spend some time on Wikipedia. Some stuff like the article on the Greek debt crsis and the one about stem cell research added to the coffers in the skull. Great lessons in time management were rendered as I alternated between Facebook, Twitter and other entertainment on the internet while trying to churn out articles for The Viewspaper (The Voice of the Youth of India). May that voice blare out loud.

I ultimately got my name splashed around the net, something I hadn't expected to do. Being jobless these holidays, I have had plenty of time to think about what would happen to me if I chose to take M.A English and I figured out that I had better write as much as I can right now and gain some experience and exposure. After all, I definitely don't want to end up teaching 7th standard kids in Loyola.


  1. what did u mean by the last sentence???

  2. It means exactly what it says.

    Consider a teacher with M.A in English who is supposed to teach the 7th standard in Loyola. (S)he teaches English to classes 7, 8 and 9 (sometimes the 10th as well). The teacher is also assigned tot each history to the 6th, 7th and the 8th. (S)he also graciously accepts the responsibility of teaching evs to all the classes in the school. All that for a meagre salary. Why does anyone take on that job?

  3. Gandhi was hurt, you know! :D