Today, I was sent to cover a press meet held by the World Telugu Federation. All the members I met referred to the federation (quite seriously) as WTF.
When my editor gave me the project I asked him rather dubiously if I was the right person for the job, seeing as I don't speak a word of Telugu. He reassured me saying that since it was an international conference, it would be in English. He couldn't have been more wrong. I was handed a two page press note densely printed in Telugu as soon as I reached. An elderly man was holding forth to a bunch of TV cameras in chaste Telegu. Everyone else in the room spoke the language and they were nodding sagely and laughing at his jokes. From what I could gather, he was holding forth the youth wing of the WTF (I couldn't help giggling whenever he said WTF. I got a lot of frowns).
Gradually, a sense of the ridiculous dawned on me- I'm an Engineering student who's studied nothing but Physics for the past three years, working in an English newspaper, attending a conference in Telugu- a language I don't understand- which is presumably about the preservation of a culture I don't relate to. How did I get here?
After the press meet, I found a kind faced gentleman who was nice enough to sit me by his side and translate what happened.
It has now been two weeks of worrying over punctuation, peering closely at comp screens trying to fit small articles into minuscule spaces, poring over google maps, making innumerable phone calls to strangers and reading up on matter that ranges from anti rabies vaccines to employment portals.
Life can be crazy, but it sure is fun.