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>NFI Northeast Media Exchange Programme Fellows

>2000; Shillong, Meghalaya; NFI Northeast Media Exchange Programme Fellows.

Its amazing how a photograph can make you feel good. This one above is taken years ago. At the Northeast Media Fellowship’s grand conference held in Shillong by National Foundation for India, one my former employers. Their flagship project used to be advised by Sanjoy Hazarika, the noted journalist and writer from Assam (Fellow, C-NES, New Delhi; he blogs at and at that time was just handed down to me as the media coordinator, from Sunita Bhadauria, my former colleague and a very good friend.
We are standing outside on the front lawn of the famous Pinewood lodge in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya. It’s sunny and pleasantly warm because of Shillong’s calm hilly weather. The only women in the photo are Sunita and I. She is far taller than I am, so you know who’s who!
Apart from Sanjoy Hazarika, there are our prominent Media Consultants in this picture — D N Bezbaruah, former Editor of The Sentinel newspaper in Guwahati, Assam, where I began my journalistic sojourn as a fledgling reporter and subeditor in 1988 (ahem, I’m really that old!); Dileep Chandan, Editor, Asom Bani (affiliated to The Assam Tribune newspaper) in Guwahati, and A J Phillips, another media stalwart.
Of the Fellows from the “Northeast”, the one standing next to Sunita (in dark shawl) was from Nagaland. A fine man with a great sense of humor. He told me about his recovery from substance abuse and his experience of violence from insurgency in Nagaland. He had to leave the conference early and I kind of missed him. Also, the Fellow from Manipur, don’t remember his name, was apparently an active member of an underground outfit. I used to notice him a lot during our sessions. A very quiet and surly man, he barely spoke or replied to questions. When I tried making a conversation, he told me very briefly how aghast he was at the “incorrect reportings” by the mainstream media in Manipur. I felt I had to apologize on behalf of the “mainstream media”. But I was a northeasterner too, I understood his points.
I thought this man will never open up, never really participate in our fantastic sessions because he was such an angry man. Well, at the after-party, I was proven wrong! At that informal gathering at the lovely guesthouse at the majestic Barapani reservoir of the Umiam river, when we began to read poems and sing songs, one of us strumming a guitar, he began humming too. Then clapping. And singing loudly. He even requested me for a particular song (when I told my colleagues with sufficient embarrassment that I tried singing for the radio and TV a couple of times) — I think, Old Man River. I think I saw his eyes get moist and he quickly turned his face away from my curious gaze.
Subir Ghosh, a fine reporter and writer (married to my former schoolmate Richa Bansal, a journalist too), is standing fourth from the right in the picture. He is the one who posted this memorable photo on his facebook page! Thank you Subir (he blogs at about politics, media and art)!

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This entry was posted on August 9, 2008 by in Assam, journalism, manipur, media, nagaland, NFI, northeast, northeast media fellowship, subir ghosh.
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