From Bollywood Beats to Chai Breaks - A Young Bahraini Reporter’s Masterclass in India
TDT | New Delhi/ Manama
The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com
Reported by Zainab Zaman
India. The land of spices and saffron sunsets, Bollywood beats, and billion-strong smiles. As a young Bahraini reporter, fresh with ink-stained fingers and a head full of wanderlust, this kaleidoscope of a country unveiled itself most extraordinarily.
My week-long dance with New Delhi and Mumbai wasn’t just a travelogue; it was a masterclass in independence, a vibrant tapestry woven with threads of entrepreneurship, diversity, and a history richer than a Maharaja’s jewels. My senses were on overdrive. The Taj Mahal—yes, it shimmered like a pearl, but the real magic was in the spice-laden air of Agra, the chaos-charming crush of Mumbai’s Crawford Market, and the echo of “Namaste” bouncing off every rickshaw driver.
Temples and mosques whispered ancient tales in intricate carvings, while modern skyscrapers stretched towards the sun, mirroring India’s duality. From press conferences about booming economies to chai breaks with locals, I discovered a country pulsating with ambition. The Presidential House, with its marble halls and whispers of independence, was a testament to that journey.
And yes, there were language barriers, frantic Ubers, and the occasional chai spill, but the warmth that greeted me everywhere, in smiles and helping hands, was a language all its own. India wasn’t just a story; it was a million stories. Every conversation, from bus drivers to college kids, was a life lesson in disguise.
The diversity wasn’t just beautiful; it was the engine driving the nation forward. Each state had a unique melody in the grand Indian chorus. Each region has its own unique spices and cooking methods, making it a special meal for the taste buds. From the rich and creamy curries of Punjab to the fiery dishes of the South, Indian food reflects the country’s rich cultural heritage.
In Uttar Pradesh, you can find mouth-watering kebabs and biryanis, while in Gujarat, the famous dhokla and thepla are popular dishes. The coastal states of Goa and Kerala are known for their seafood delicacies, while the Northeastern states offer a blend of Chinese and Indian dishes like noodles.
The beauty of Indian food lies in its diversity, and each state has its own signature dishes that are a must-try for any food lover. From FICCI’s economic summits to ISA’s renewable energy drive, I saw the future of India taking shape. A future where 100 million Delhiites would unlock the golden doors of tourism, where India and the GCC would join hands in a symphony of commerce.
But amidst the grand narratives, it was the little things that stole my heart. The bonfires crackling against the Delhi chill, the shared cup of chai at a gas station, the laughter echoing in Film City’s corridors. These were the moments that whispered the true soul of India, a land where resilience and joy danced hand in hand.
The movie set in the film city reminded me of how I would watch Indian movies during the holy month of Ramadan to pass the time before Iftar, as the movies would be over 3 hours long. My favourite part was having to pass by the set where "Om Shanti Om” was filmed. It felt like a fast-forward to present-day life that I get to report about India, while when I was younger, I was admiring the plots and twists of Bollywood films.
India, you are a symphony of spices, a kaleidoscope of dreams, a masterclass in the intoxicating freedom of being, and I, a young reporter forever changed by your vibrant embrace. Until we meet again, your colours will dance in my dreams, and your chai will warm the soul of this young woman, forever marked by your independent spirit.
India left an indelible mark. It was a sensory explosion, a cultural kaleidoscope, and a lesson in independence etched in spice and spirit. And yes, I’ll be back—to Gujarat, Bangalore, and beyond—to unravel more stories from this land that never sleeps, never surrenders, and never fails to surprise.
Until we meet again, your colours will dance in my dreams, and your chai will warm the soul of this young woman, forever marked by your independent spirit. So, if you’re looking for a story, skip the guidebooks and grab a chai. India’s waiting with open arms and a million tales to tell.