Salam all, this piece below appeared in my column here.
ON the greyest of a grey autumn morning, I found myself in what could only be described as a sardine can of a coach, in the underground train making its way to East London.
The tea that I bought earlier in the hope of having a leisurely breakfast during the journey was fast seeping out of its styrofoam container onto the almond croissant, as it was being crushed and squashed by early morning commuters entering and leaving the train.
It was only 7.30am and work was not due to finish until about six in the evening.
Early morning commuters tend to be quite aggressive compared to bedraggled homeward bound ones.
So, after being elbowed and pushed and squashed and left with a soggy almond croissant, you can imagine the speed with which self-pity was rushing in.
I suddenly noticed how young these early morning commuters were — in their twenties and thirties; all fresh and eager to start their day. At 7.30am, I was already about to give up.
I put this feeling of melancholy down to the unusually hectic week. I had been to several cities in the far flung corners of the British Isle, trudging to get to my transport when most people were still in bed and arriving home when most people were already asleep.
I had been covering stories with journalists young enough to be my children; whose energy and enthusiasm knew no bounds. I recognised those enthusiasm and zest for I once had them. And those were the days when the ministers I interviewed were much older than me.
Anyway, when I finally found a seat, and with about 10 more stops to go, and munching on tea-soaked almond croissant, I went on a journey down memory lane.
Just the week before, I was contacted by a youngish journalist who wanted to interview me because, according to her calculation, I could easily be the longest-serving Malaysian female journalist abroad.
Note that I did not use the word “oldest”, although that too could be true.
The reality of that proclamation hit me like a tonne of bricks. I don’t know whether this is true, but yes, suddenly I felt it had been quite a long time.
Suddenly, all of my almost 30-year career in this industry came rushing in like the early morning commuters.
There was a time when it was I who chased after old Malaysian veterans and old Malay sailors. My husband once joked that a young hack would one day turn up at our doorsteps wanting to interview the makcik who came to London in the late 1970’s. It is a joke no more.
These days, when I casually mention that we came to London in 1979, most of these young hacks would retort; “... but I was only a year old then!”
Next month, it will indeed be 30 years away; and for most part of the three decades, I had been a hack; in radio, in print, TV and even dabbling in online media.
I had started off carrying the German-made Uher reel-to-reel tape recorder on assignments and it weighed a tonne! Now I carry a small digital voice recorder that could easily fit in the palm of my hand.
And remember the days when we had to rush back after assignments to bang on the old Remington? Well, today, fitting snugly into my sling bag is a cool notebook with Internet connection.
I remember the day that the three of us — Ena, Fati and I — walked into the newsroom in Jalan Riong; conscious of the stares and wolf whistles from male reporters from the sports desk. Many contemporaries have moved up, moved away and moved on.
Last week, looking through my collection of paper cuttings and pictures from assignments throughout the years brought back the excitement and joy of being a journalist. I just love meeting interesting people with interesting stories to tell.
I just love how interesting human interest stories found their way to me.
Experiences of people like Datin Peggy Taylor, the Pak Cik Sailors, the British veterans and many more had served to enrich my own life’s experience.
Has it really been 30 years?
The announcement on the train signalled my stop. And joining in the crowd of commuters spilling onto the platform into the cold autumn air, I suddenly felt rejuvenated again.
Reporting from all over Europe and with conjoined twins just before the operation
These last few weeks.............................
See the fresh faces?