Sainath gave us a thorough grounding in the ethics and principles of rural journalism which helped me go out and research this piece.
Through PARI we started to acknowledge the life of ordinary people - people around us who we tend to ignore. We became more empathetic towards them. The most fun part of the process was to go into those undiscovered niches of the same city we live in and find the real heroes of our traditional culture.
I liked Meenaskhi’s strength and want to make more comics and illustrate more strong women.
So much news about rural India doesn’t get out and unless we document things, we may lose them forever.
I wanted to show the diversity in India, how cultures change every couple of hundred kilometers. I thought dress and clothing would be able to best showcase that.
It was a wake-up call; I realised that for all my ‘alternate’ education, I was often guilty of stereotyping people in rural areas. It also opened my eyes to the detailed nature of journalism. It was an intimidating and sometimes difficult process but it taught me to really respect the unique individuality of people's lives.
I was always fond of palm fruit, but had no idea of the hardships a vendor goes through. Doing this story made me understand the risk they undergo to eat one square meal a day. I gained a lot in reporting and writing skills as well.
Writing about the cyclone allowed her to see the trajectory of a natural disaster and how communities, lives and livelihoods could be completely destroyed and yet carry on.
The colloquium with P. Sainath and later with PARI Education at our campus was an eye-opener. I understood journalistic perspectives on sociology, environment and anthropology, which we otherwise consider as academic domains.
Fishing communities are affected by movement and migration of capital, shifts in policies and social norms. This reveals the larger social structure they are steeped in. Covering this story for PARI has grounded my sociological imagination in something deeper. It has urged me to rethink the idea of our daily lives and fit lived experiences into a larger social fabric.