Ugly Brides and Good Looking Anchors

Greetings from the heart of the SAJA convention in NYC. I attend this event every year. It’s always filled with interesting, energetic people, and is punctuated with fun events and social opportunities. Plus, it allows me to remind myself that I’m a writer, and not just an epidemiologist.

Hunkered in a lounge in Columbia University, enjoying its free wifi service as I blog, I’m eavesdropping on a job interview between a network recruiter and a small-market news anchor. Quit fascinating, really. And I just enjoyed a nice little chat with Global TV’s Pooja Handa, with whom I developed a networking game: converse for 10 minutes with a stranger without asking what they do, their name or where they are from. Can you do it?

One of the highlights of SAJA is its job fair, which is happening right now. I’m avoiding it, of course, because I don’t want to be a full-time journalist. But it’s inspiring to see a room full of aspiring network biggies, each being courted by CNN, AP and Reuters. Hmmm, maybe I should reconsider… Sanjay Gupta had to start somewhere, right?

Speaking of Reuters, the reception last night was held in their headquarters in Times Square, on the top floor overlooking all the gandeur that is Manhattan. I assure you, I wasn’t the only visitor who looked like an awe-stricken country hick when presented with that view— and I used to live here!

This morning, the keynote speaker was NBC’s Brian Williams— whom I missed because I was still in bed after a late evening of convention celebrations. And right now, PBS’s Daljit Dhaliwal will be leading a session on something or other. I like her, but I can’t ever separate her persona from the time David Letterman sang her name like a children’s song.

The recurring theme in all the discussions and presentations here has been the growth of Indian presence in world news. The number of desis producing news, both in print and on the airways, is accelerating. This is, of course, married to the explosion of the Indian economy. Betty Wong of Reuters commented that their Bangalore office has experienced explosive growth, and that it has been a pleasure to deal with “an Asian nation whose primary export is human resources rather than natural resources.” Yet, as one Indian anchorwoman said to me, the problem with India remains its infrastructure. “Bombay traffic is still paralyzed when it rains.”

India has, in many ways, a long way to go. Abeer R. sends us this story about an American desi family suing an Indian family after the potential bride for their son, chosen from the latter, was deemed to be “too ugly” for their sweet, sweet baby boy. Methinks the “ugly” bride can do a whole lot better than this fat-ass boy and his elitist parents.