Thursday, September 2, 2010

My first "journalistic" phone call

Being an avid table tennis player (but not a very good one), I thought this would be an interesting topic for an essay using mind maps. Let me rewind a little. During one of our English lectures, our teacher taught us the concept of mind maps. The idea is to draw a visual representation of any topic that you are going to write about, by drawing 6 main arms, representing the 6 main topics ,each of which has 2 arms, representing the sub-topics. The number can vary according to the level of detail and complexity of the topic. Once the mind map is ready, all your information is structured properly and your work is reduced to a large extent when you actually start writing. I must confess, I'm an unstructured writer and till date I preferred it because it's more fun to write in the flow. However, mind maps seem like a handy tool to write structured, logical essays. 

Coming back to the main topic, I chose "Table Tennis as a profession" as the topic for the mind map essay. When I started writing, I realized that I have no idea what to write! Googling didn't yield any results either. Finally, I landed on the Table Tennis Federation of India (TTFI) website. As I browsed through, trying to get some ounce of information, I noticed that names and contact information of a few players (members of TTFI) had been put up. Some of the players were barely above 20. I was in a terrible dilemma for some time, wondering if it's ethical to call up kids and bug them, that too for a school assignment. I felt like I was thoroughly invading their privacy! Plus, I'm the last person to go and speak to strangers. Yeah yeah I know I'm in journalism, I'm getting used to it!

I finally plucked up courage and called up on the first number I came across. A very strict sounding voice on the other hand informed me that his daughter was not available. He asked me to identify myself and my intention for calling his daughter. I had half a mind to hang up on him, but I realized I'm not doing anything wrong. After a few more misses, Abishek agreed to help me out. I felt like a real journalist, calling up strangers and troubling them for my work. I must have spoken to Abishek for almost half an hour. At first he was thoroughly confused about who I am and why I was calling him. Must have seemed really strange for a guy in Chennai to receive a call from Mumbai from a girl claiming to be in some college and asking for information on table tennis. However, he was very sweet and patient and I finally wrote that article. 

I didn't get a spectacular grade for it, mainly because I screwed up the mind map concept. Most probably this was because I'm an unstructured writer by default. However, my teacher seemed really impressed by the information I'd put together and she remarked "good attempt!". The main point is, I had great fun doing the assignment!

After reading this, I'm sure you'd like to know the prospects of table tennis as a profession. Next post, coming up soon! :D


  1. Damn, True Journo, Manasi... I kno how scary it can be callin strangers!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. arey u had n entire team of professional players 2 contact, rohit, max, anshuman, me too! n u wldn hav had problems gettin thru 2 us also... :P

  4. k seriously do u kno how 2 change da username here? i donno wen da hell it became 'nehu' ! :|

  5. Hats off to your attempt to contact people and get to the roots... I couldn't have mustered the courage...