Finally, the moment came on July 18, 2022, to say goodbye to a fantastic journey that I started 24 years ago with Oman Daily Observer. While I took off my employee hat officially with the newspaper, a very big "Thank You" to all my colleagues at the Ministry of Information, readers, friends, and benefactors with whom I spent those wonderful years.
During my career with the Observer, I was witness to the huge growth that the country has achieved during the years of my stay here, though it set out on its growth path more than five decades ago with the blessed Renaissance march. I could also relish the warmth of the incredible hospitality, generosity, and friendliness of the people of this country with a congenial atmosphere.
I will be going back with the memories of late Sultan Qaboos who led this country to a modern state with a high standard of living and the succession of power to the new leadership under His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik.
I am glad that I could become an author during the period of my job with the Observer to document the history of Oman and its centuries-old relations with India in my book – Across Sea and Space.
What’s also truly meaningful to me was the outpouring of love and support that I received during my tryst with coronavirus infection last year. Whether in the form of prayers, wishes for healing, positive energy, kind phone calls, texts, emails, or any other form of support, I am infused with an unbelievable sense of gratitude to everyone for helping me be alive.
The kindness and compassion I’ve seen have touched my life and lifted my spirits. It has made all the difference in my recovery from the complex illness.
Now when I pen this column, I go back to the very famous quote “Retire from work, but not from life”. Yes, I stepped out of the office smilingly as I had a great time in this country of liberal oasis. And the course of my stay with this newspaper, with which I have a lot of memories to cherish, has been incredibly enjoyable though intense.
Each phase of life has its own charm but professional life is a rollercoaster ride, full of ups and downs filled with accountabilities and responsibilities leaving one with mixed experiences of happiness and stress as well!
Looking back at my career which started in the days of clattering manual typewriters, hot metal, and the so-called ‘copy boys’ nearly four decades back in India, for me journalism is the best profession in the world, albeit I never had my hands on any field other than this!
Back then, it was still a much simpler time. Leave alone e-mails, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, even the Internet was not in use when set off in my profession as a trainee journalist after my graduation!
I’ve seen a rapid transformation over the last three decades — in both journalism and technology — and although it’s unclear what opportunities the future will bring us, I’m excited that I was part of that journey.
During my ride in this profession, I have met many who have abandoned the field for the unsociable life that journalists do have. To be frank, this profession is not for those who prioritise socialising, shorter hours, and holidays. The job very often is gruelling and night shifts appalling.
But I do not regret and repent for choosing journalism as my main avocation. It has been interesting because it exposed me to a broad spectrum of human behaviour, some of it wonderful and thrilling, some less so, some even worse!
Although I started as a sub-editor trainee in India’s well-known Free Press Journal in the early 80s, writing, rather than editing, was the key and understanding for me to shift to writing despite the fact that subs are the silent army of journalism.
My career with the prominent Indian Express Group of Newspapers in its editions in different Indian cities was exciting for the new vistas that opened before me. I experienced the belief “Pen is mightier than the sword” during my almost a decade of professional growth in the group.
My most exhilarating reporting assignment was covering the world’s worst industrial gas disaster in the Central Indian city of Bhopal which claimed thousands of lives and affected many more in the toxic gas leak in November 1984. There were also occasions, I risked my life while travelling through the riot-hit Indian cities.
What I have learned all these years of my journey is getting the facts about government, the economy, social justice, and more is, what it takes to make good decisions. Good journalism is gathering raw information and crafting it into a form that conveys the facts to the audience in a way that is compelling, maybe even entertaining.
I believe in the solid ethical core that characterises a good journalist and good journalism is clear, direct, and engages the reader!