The Times of India

By Zainab Sultan

Zainab Sultan on the right, Sudipta Sengupta and Roli Srivastava on the left.


It was June 15 and I was sitting in the newsroom of the Hyderabad bureau of The Times of India, which has a circulation of 3.14 million, the largest circulation of any newspaper in the world. I was sitting alone, knowing none of the reporters busy making phone calls, oblivious to what was going around them. The chai wala, or tea boy, pops by  during the day to serve tea in the chilly newsroom but not everyone is lucky enough to get served, a category that includes the unknown me. The day starts slow with hardly anyone around in the newsroom but by 4 p.m., it’s chaos—the air filled with the clattering keyboards and the Bollywood ringtones of reporters on deadline.


Every summer I visit my birthplace in Hyderabad, a city of 6.8 million in the south of India, famous for its pearls and chicken and lamb biryani. But this summer I wanted to do something more than just visit family and attend weddings so, journalism training in mind, I called the editor looking for a month-long internship. When the editor called me back, he asked for story ideas. I pitched a couple on the spot and followed up immediately, telling him, I arrived in the city just yesterday so I’m getting acquainted with the news here and will definitely have more to offer soon.

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