Pushing the limit

Last month I travelled to Pokhara for a series of stories — being a freelancer or a reporter in general, you always want to bring home a bag full of stories when you travel.

Before leaving for Pokhara, all I had were a series of interviews for this particular story I’m currently working. But meanwhile I just thought I would get hold of more sources for the Gurkha story I was working on — little did I know then that this would in fact turn out to be a full-fledged multimedia story and a string of stories for three media outlets.

When I first saw these young Nepali men training to prepare for the British Gurkha recruitment camp, I thought the story would have more impact visually. As they trained in the rain and under the scorching summer sun, pushing their limits, I was in fact pushing my limit too.

With a DSLR camera — the only equipment I had — I ran along with them in the rain and the sun, capturing their rigorous regiment. One of my friends travelling with me offered to help, which was a great relief during interviews.

Two days of shooting, a hard disk that ran out of space and almost three hours of footage, I wrapped up the Gurkha story and started working on the other one I was originally there for.

Being a freelancer, though its flexible, there is always this fear of not finding a home for your story. But you have to try to convince your editors, you have to be persistent in pushing your story. And I’m glad that I’m at a point where I can comfortably do that. But this doesn’t mean, it’s easy. I still have to pitch and persuade my editors. However, the process becomes a bit easier in the long run.

For the Gurkha story, I sent out e-mails and got rejected. Despite that I continued my e-mail pointing out different angles. When one publication didn’t work, I looked for another. My editor there in fact suggested to take a different angle, which actually worked for the best.

But it wasn’t just the text I was trying to get published. I had worked on a video and I had to get it out there. Honestly, I did persuade my editor and finally convinced the multimedia team to go through my video — it worked out well.

While working on a Gurkha story, I also came across a British colonel who had been living in Nepal for more than three decades. A permanent Nepali resident, he had given up his British citizenship and was waiting to become a Nepali national. I thought it would be a good profile and then pitched it to two more outlets.

The first two passed the idea but the foreign editor from the South China Morning Post called me and said it would make an interesting story. And the rest is out there.

At times, being a freelancer does makes me a bit lazy. But it’s at times when I start working on stories as such and see the potentials they have, they keep me on the go.

It’s exactly been a year since I’ve worked on some multimedia project — last time it was my final project for grad school. Though it was daunting, I thoroughly enjoyed the one-man project, and with the Gurkha story too, I’ve enjoyed working on them and also learned a lot while working.

Here’s the list — one story, multiple mediums.

The National: The Gurkhas of the British Army

The National: Training to be Gurkhas [VIDEO]

South China Morning Post: Retired British Gurkha, 88, stateless in Nepal as he waits for citizenship

Republica The Week: I will be a Gurkha [PHOTO FEATURE Pages 8-9]

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