GAURANGI MAITRA pens her impressions of The Thumb Print Conversations at Guwahati
I was intrigued by the invitation I received from the online news magazine www.thethumbprintmag.com. They had extended an opportunity to join a Conversation on” Media and Northeast India” in Guwahati on June 6. The road to the venue meandered through the Guwahati less seen today. Driving away from the frenetic main road traffic, negotiating lazy lanes bordered by gracious homes vibrant with old world charm, a sign board said Foundation for Social Transformation.
Our venue, this yesteryear two story homestead was a conversation piece in itself. Raindrops dancing on its ponds, gardens, trees with age old epiphytic associations mirrored the natural beauty of the northeast. Guests across the spectrum of the pen wielding community flowed in, old acquaintances renewed, new ones begun. Given the charm of our surrounding, it did take a little gentle persuasion from our host Teresa and moderator Mitra Phukan to get the conversation started.
Only as the introductions rolled out, did I realise we had a microcosm of media persona both professional and amateur with a fresh garnish of Mass Communication undergraduates from Mizoram University. Having been only familiar with some of their writing, it was interesting to meet and hear them in person. Conversations moved between hard and soft journalism, image and visibility, bestsellers and shelf sitters, perceptions and reality, commissions and omissions taken forward and balanced by Mitra with her sweetly honed skills.
It was informal, unstructured, varied and one could agree to disagree almost congenially: from the memory of a Dire Straits number, unbidden, lines surfaced: “sitting on the fence is a dangerous course, you can get shot by the peace keeping force”. The designated two hours seemed to have gone too soon and trays laden with tea, sweet and savoury refreshments helped to wind down the conversation in deference to the ticking clock.
This third in the series of Thumb Print conversations brought together a wide cross section of media practioners and non media people. Many of them had spent a lifetime in the north east and had more to convey than what was possible in one conversation. It would have been interesting to hear more from the young students. As I went back that night, I kept wondering, we have had conversations and what has emerged from them?
As I write this a few days later, I realise conversations do not end in white paper releases or ceremonial declarations, that often hibernate in dusty archives. Conversations link people and possibilities in real time and are often the germination point of ideas and initiatives. They put a human face on the reporter and reported creating new links that can strengthen an online initiative to give the soul in this northeastern part of a subcontinent an international space and perspective. Thank you The Thumb Print Magazine for this starter: it has the potential to add a healthy and sustainable perspective of a region conveniently identified with gunshots and exotics.