Pune, 13th March 2021: After resigning from my job at The Navhind Times in Goa, I had now settled down as a reporter in Lokmat Times English daily in Aurangabad.
In Panjim, the bug of the college students union and later the trade union had caught my attention. So soon after coming to Aurangabad, I enrolled myself as a member of the Aurangabad Union of Working Journalists and within six months, after contesting the elections, I became the General Secretary of this trade union.
This happened in 1989. The city of Aurangabad was not new to me. I am originally from the Marathwada region as my native village is Wahegaon in Gangapur taluka of Aurangabad district. Soon I fell in love with this historic city, named after the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and my visits to my home town Shrirampur became monthly instead of fortnightly.
This particular incident happened in September. My colleague Mustafa Alam, a crime reporter for the Lokmat Times, had applied for the post of a reporter in Indian Express in Pune. Meanwhile, Mustafa was selected as the Aurangabad correspondent of ‘The Independent’, an English daily based in Mumbai with Bharatkumar Raut, as the executive editor. Thus Mustafa Alam withdrew his application for the reporter’s post at the Indian Express.
The Indian Express had decided to introduce its edition in Pune. At that time, Pune did not have many English newspapers. Dileep Padgaonkar, who later became the Editor-in-Chief of The Times of India, had started his career in journalism at the Poona Herald (later the Maharashtra Herald) in the Pune camp. The shortage of experienced journalists was also felt by Lokmat Times where I worked in Aurangabad.
In Goa, the same was true of the English dailies ‘The Navhind Times’ and ‘Herald’, and the Marathi daily ‘Gomantak’. The newspaper owners always brought editors from outside Goa for these dailies. After the liberation of Goa from Portuguese rule in 1961, Trimbak Vishnu Parvate took over as the first editor of The Navhind Times, the first English daily published in Goa. When the ‘O Heraldo’, a Portuguese daily, turned into an English daily, Rajan Narayan from Mumbai was appointed as its editor, a position he held for many years. Madhav Gadkari of Marathi ‘Gomantak’, Narayan Athavale, S. S. Kokje of `Navprabha’, were other editors brought from outside Goa. Even today, things have not changed much.
Many journalists from Goa, however, have in the past worked and are working in very high posts in the field of journalism in the country and abroad. The Biblical verse uttered by Jesus Christ that ‘Prophet is not honoured in his own town’ applies here.
Therefore, Prakash Kardaley, resident editor of the Pune edition of Indian Express, had decided to recruit experienced reporters and sub-editors from outside Pune for the new Pune edition of Indian Express.
As per Kardaley’s suggestion, Arif Shaikh, Aurangabad correspondent of the Indian Express, was looking for experienced journalists for the jobs in Aurangabad. Having secured `The Independent’ job in Aurangabad, Mustafa Alam had now turned down the offer for a reporter’s post with the Indian Express in Pune. As a friend, I had accompanied Mustafa when he met Arif Shaikh at the Indian Express office at Gulmandi in Aurangabad to inform the latter about his decision.
Arif Shaikh was understandably disappointed when Mustafa Alam turned down the Indian Express job offer at the last minute. At that time, Mustafa blurted out in half jest, “Hey Camil, why don’t you apply for the Indian Express job?”
Arif Shaikh immediately heaved a sigh of relief. Yes, this was a good suggestion, he felt. Shaikh and Mustafa then cajoled me to write down my short bio-data and Arif Shaikh immediately typed it on the office teleprinter and transmitted it to Prakash Kardaley’s office in Pune. I just forgot about it when both Mustafa Alam and I got out of the Indian Express office.
Three days later, Arif Shaikh sent me a message through Mustafa Alam, asking me to immediately visit the Indian Express office in the city. “Indian Express Pune resident editor Prakash Kardaley has called you for an interview in the Pune office this Friday,” he said.
This came as a bombshell to me. When Arif Shaikh and Mustafa Alam persuaded me to submit my bio-data, I had no inkling that something will ever emerge out of this. It had been hardly 10 months since I had joined ‘Lokmat Times’ in Aurangabad. Frankly, I had not thought of resigning from my post or of leaving Aurangabad so soon.
Nonetheless, I went to Pune for the scheduled interview. The Indian Express monthly salary for a reporter as per the prevailing Justice Palekar Wage award was too tempting to refuse the job offer. Resident Kardaley did not even refer to the pay scales but simply asked me, “Camil, when can you join us at the earliest?’’
Instantly, I knew that my employment in Lokmat Times and my stay in Aurangabad was going to end soon.
Thus it has been over 32 years since I left Aurangabad. Since then, I have not moved out of Pune although I have switched over to many jobs in English newspaper organizations. I worked for 11 years with Indian Express, then at The Times of India for nearly six years and at the Maharashtra Herald-Sakal Times of the Sakal Media Group for astonishingly 16 long years until the Corona outbreak in March 2020 when many reputed newspaper organisations closed down their editions. Arif Shaikh of the Indian Express was indeed instrumental in bringing me to Pune and shaping my career for the last three decades.
Many such people come into everyone’s life and do something to shape their destiny. We normally don’t give credit to them or we don’t even talk or think about it. Arif Shaikh and I have never met in the last three decades. Today, I read an article on social media after the passing away of Arif Shaikh. The obit flashed before my mind this very old incident in Aurangabad.
(Camil Parkhe is a senior journalist based in Pune. He started his journalism career in Goa and has worked in various newspapers in different capacities.)
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