Meera Rao – a woman of letters
|I’m so grateful for the opportunity I got at this early stage of my journalistic career. I got to meet the senior journalist Mrs.N.MeeraRaghavendra Rao. She has written more than two thousand features and has authored six books. She has been in the field for 45 years now. I was excited as well as terrified at the prospect of meeting her. All my fears vanished in the air as I saw her waiting for me with all her books laid on the table, in order, while I entered her house gasping for breath, finally getting to the right place after losing my way. She let me relax and offered me cooljaljeera before I could pose my questions.
Here are the some excerpts from my interview with her:
Me: How and when did you make your foray into journalism?
Mrs.Rao: I was doing my UG in philosophy at Jamshedpur after which I got married at 19 and moved to Chennai. I always had a passion for writing. I’d write letters to the editor. I wrote on anything that caught my attention. As I got published in “The Hindu” and “Femina”, people around started encouraging me to pursue writing . Also I had a lot of free time ,so I enrolled myself in a PG Diploma in Journalismwhich helped me a lot. Writing, which was a leisure activity, became my passionand I took it up seriously thereon.
Me: What’d you like to say to the aspiring journalists?
Mrs.Rao: There are a lot of opportunities today when compared to the time I started my career. The home work a journalist had to do before an interview has become so simple with the internet doing your job prior to meeting your interviewee. Plus, there are several streams like new media apart from the numerous channels offered by Television now. One thing I’d say to the aspirants is “Decide what you want to do”. Choose the stream you think you’ll be good at, without getting influenced by your friends. One can start a blog to improve the language and vocabulary. But please do not make it your personal diary.
Me: What should a journalist’s motive and objective be?
Mrs.Rao: A journalist should try to help the society and not be “business-minded”. “A journalist shouldn’t be lured by money”. He should always present the facts and never write or present anything against his conscience. What matters is credibility more than money in this profession.
Between these questions there’s one cheerful thing she said. She has invariably liked humour, it seems. She said, as it is we all have a lot of issues in life, it’s better we “grin and bear it(them).
That was my final question, formally. I went through her books and was amazed browsing through her Coffee Table book “3 E’s of travel”. She had self-published it for her father’s hundredth birth anniversary as a tribute for he always loved travelling. The book has 120 colour pictures taken by her with non digital cameras .She saw me off with a warm smile.