(This article was first published in the July-Aug 2014 edition of Aurora.)
Currently I am working at DawnNews as an anchor. The job primarily requires me to attend work once a week on the day of recording. It may sound like life is pretty relaxed but for that single day of recording I have to work round the clock throughout the week.
For me, any news, any place, any time is a work assignment which I have to review in order to decide what goes on the show. And these days it is not only about what is on the TV, in the newspaper or the radio that is news. Social media has added a whole new dimension. To add to it my use of social media is not limited to gathering news, I also use it as an active place for activism. I feel blessed to be associated with various causes, which the (apparently flexible) hours at DawnNews make easier to attend to.
"On days when I am not occupied with work, I love to interact with people on the streets. I stop my car on the side of a road and make random conversations with kids who annoy us otherwise with their Nazi wipers attacking our windscreens.
I may not describe pursuing any cause as a job but it requires the same amount of effort be it organisation, promotion, communications, logistics or any aspect of a protest, collection drive or awareness campaign I am running. I also have a policy which I regret every day – which is to reply to every question regardless of how ill-informed it is. So to a great extent I am married to my phone, much to the annoyance of my friends and family. I believe a great part of my social media interaction has to do with education and creating awareness of issues that affect us.
In hindsight, the past three years have been much more stable and certain. I used to work for a a top law firm in the country within a strict corporate environment and a fixed pattern of how to eventually be promoted to partnership level in 10 years time. I thought life was set. For the next 10 years I had figured out how and where my weekdays would be spent. Good reviews by my seniors helped the self-assurance and I thought I had made life easy by cracking the code.
However, the work environment wasn’t as interactive and animated as it is at a news channel like DawnNews and I don’t have any regrets about leaving.
"Having friends from different ethnicities, sects and religions has been a blessing. It has allowed me to cross the bridge between sympathy and empathy."
At DawnNews, every week presents a new challenge. I am still learning the art of conducting a show within the strict confines of the editorial policy. Hence the recording sessions are spent between the studio and the editor’s office where my idealism is tamed more and more every week.
Life outside the office is even more interesting. In Karachi, to enjoy a good evening you don’t really have to spend too much money. In a bustling city like Karachi even sitting at Sea View for an hour has its own soothing effect. That little break from the grind is enough to make the day stand out.
On days when I am not occupied with work, I love to interact with people on the streets. I stop my car on the side of a road and make random conversations with kids who annoy us otherwise with their Nazi wipers attacking our windscreens. The kids who declare any man and woman sitting together in a car a married couple (faster than any priest could!) just to sell their flowers. The slightly older boys who sell balloons and toys, the eunuchs who boost my ego by comparing me to a Bollywood star just so that I will give alms a bit more generously. The prostitutes (I have spoken to quite a few on various roads in Defence and it is fine conversing with them if you treat them like human beings as opposed to sex objects), the majority of whom are on the streets to feed their kids at home while their heroin addicted husbands remain useless and only use their hands to beat their wives.
"The diversity within my circle of friends has shaped who I am and my interaction with them on a daily basis."
All of them have amazing and moving stories to tell. The Pakistan they live in is far different from the one I grew up in. Our schools, modes of transportation, neighbourhood, friends; the water we drink, the food we eat is so different that I really believed my Pakistan was different from theirs. Yet their love for their motherland is unparalleled and perhaps even more than mine.
All are part of our social and moral fibre. Their hardships reflect on me as much as my ignorance reflects on them.
Having friends from different ethnicities, sects and religions has been a blessing. It has allowed me to cross the bridge between sympathy and empathy. Nights are spent discussing religion, politics, the economy, Sufism and our purpose on earth. The diversity within my circle of friends has shaped who I am and my interaction with them on a daily basis. Our cordial and candid exchange of thoughts is the most fulfilling part of the day.
M. Jibran Nasir is a lawyer and an anchor on DawnNews.