The train journey left me covered in a film of dust and dirt from crossing India. The windows had to remain open because there was no air con and there were 10+ people in a very cramped space. It was a good job our previous enemies who seats we stole decided to be so empathetic. Before long they were teaching us Hindi, talking about the British Royal family and drinking endless cups of sweet Indian chai for only five rupees a cup.
As the night wore on though, it became clear, no matter how nice the friends we’d made were, or how funny the story of our train mishaps would be in the morning, the fact remained that I had to try and get some sleep before Delhi. Unable to sit fully upright, and in very close proximity to a large amount of people, this was going to be no easy feat. Needless to say, I kept awaking with a jerk of my head, or because my bum had numbed, or pins and needles. What seemed like hours seemed to pass before the train emptied a little. Ciara, Claire and I eventually acquired a bunk in the three tiered sections and collapsed with the morning air fanning over our faces from the sugar cane fields, paddies and rolling hills of India.
Two hours before we arrived in Delhi, and an hour after falling asleep, I awoke with the distinct feeling of being watched. I wasn’t wrong. Four Rajasthani women stared unabashedly through kohled eyes at us travelers. I tried to surreptitiously remove the sleep from my eyes and make myself more presentable since we were apparently their entertainment! I felt disgusting though. To make matters worse, I’d arranged to meet with editor of The Viewspaper, a youth newspaper, in Haus Kauz- a quite nice area of Delhi- when we arrived.
The thought of meeting her with matted hair, un-showered and wearing the same clothes as yesterday was harrowing- but after investigating the toilets, also inevitable.
We arrived in a humid, Delhi. The brown dirt ran in rivers along the roadside sloshing in our flip flops and making us feel stickier than we already did. Exhausted and unable to muster the energy to haggle, we jumped into a rick to make our way to meet the glamorous editor Aishwarya Dravid. An hour later, we were still stuck in traffic.
Compared to our last experience of Delhi on Independence Day, the poverty of India was much more evident. Deformed beggars clawed at us for change, Ciara saw a man injecting drugs under a railway bridge and the slums were in plain view. This time there were no kites or patriotic cries to detract from the reality of young children carrying babies and asking for food.
Eventually, we arrived at Haus Kauz and met Aishwarya Dravid of The Viewspaper. Stepping into that airconned restaurant was like being blown on by God! I felt like a new person! We quickly refreshed ourselves in the restroom before returning to the table and ordering some food and enjoying some good conversation.
Aishwarya Dravid was young, ambitious and a wonderful person to speak to about not only journalism, but the changes in India. Her paper represents the voice of the youth and encourages children as young as 12 to get into this competitive industry. She told us how she wanted to voice what the youth of the world really thought and has even set up a program where she helps schools and colleges set up their own school publications. She has writers from as far as Britain contributing to her paper and hopes in the future to set up an internship program for people abroad to work reviewing big events and writing editorial, in addition to her India internship program she already heads.
Talking to Aishwarya, it was refreshing to see someone presenting ample opportunity to young people in an industry where it is so hard to usually even get a look in. Her animated enthusiasm for young journalism was encouraging to witness in face of the trouble newspapers are facing at the moment.
Like so many encounters so far in India, our meeting with Aishwarya showed optimism for the future. compared to things back home- it was so lovely not to have to hear negative describers attributed to journalism, the job market and graduate prospects.
Too full for dessert, Aishwarya drove us back to the airport . Exhausted, but with a huge amount of stories, over 800 photos and never wanting a shower more, I knew getting up to interview the consul of Israel for the paper the next morning was not going to be easy. It did promise to be fun though.
I’ll let you know how it goes, this week is going to be a very busy one at the paper.
Follow Aishwarya on Twitter
Namaste for now!
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