No degree in story telling!

Deepak Singh takes his story telling skills across seven seas

I was born and bred in Lucknow. My family moved house a few times within the city, but never more than two kilometers away from Hazratganj—the center of town.

Because I grew up in the 1980s and early 1990s—before the times of internet and cell phones—the only way I could get in touch with friends and family was to actually go to them. If I wanted to see a friend, let’s call him Guddu, I would ride my bicycle or walk to his house.

Of course, there was no way of telling whether Guddu would be home, but the idea of whether I would be lucky enough to find him made the effort to go to his place that much more interesting. Finding out what Guddu might be up to used to be the best part. If I did find him, Guddu and I would go together to find another friend. We would then gather around at a nook and chat. Hours would go by and we would not run out of stories. We discussed cricket, our favorite actors, girls we fancied and teachers we hated—the topics were endless.

Most of the time, we told each other the same story over and over again, but in a way that it seemed new each time. To make each other laugh, we mimicked our school teachers, copied how a neighbor yelled at her children, or how someone walked. We found pleasure in entertaining everyone, and we laughed like we had no worries. Sometimes we even got into trouble for laughing too much. People wondered what was so funny.

Most of my friends from school and college grew up to chose different professions. Some of them are engineers, some are bankers, some are doctors, and some have their own business. Almost all of us got a professional degree, a degree that would land us a job, a good job with a good pay package. Our lives are very different now. We don’t hang around in parks, tea stalls, nooks or corners of the city to tell stories the way we used to when we were in high school.

Like my friends, I also got a post graduate degree in business administration. My parents thought that was a surefire way of getting a job and to make a career. But the future had something else in store for me.

Soon after I had finished my degree, I met a producer from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in a bookshop. I don’t know why, but he offered me a position of a radio journalist.

It was the BBC. How could I refuse?

I told the man I had no training in radio, or journalism. He told me not worry and that he would train me.

My life took a new turn. I began writing scripts for a radio show. I struggled in the beginning, but got comfortable soon. After two years of working in the company, I moved to the United States. Fast forward eleven years.

Today I am a published author and a radio essayist, but I never went to college to get a degree in journalism, writing or storytelling. I didn’t choose this profession, the profession chose me.

I often wonder how the art of storytelling comes so naturally to me, and then my mind takes me back to my teenage years when I was surrounded by Guddu, Ajay, Rahul, Iqbal, Vicky and Rohit for hours on the rooftop, or at a nukkad and who loved to hear me spin yarns.

The author is a freelance journalist, radio producer and writer based in South Bend, Indiana, USA.
Follow Deepak on twitter @deepakwriter

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