Jeffrey Sachs is due in New Delhi and I have managed to get an appointment to interview him.
The celebrity economist, one of the 100 most influential people according to TIME magazine, director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, a special advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, even a Padma Bhushan awardee, is scheduled to attend the Delhi Sustainable Development Summit organised by The Energy and Resources Institute.
I have read up all (okay, enough) I could get on him. I have fixed up the time with his secretary. But when I arrive at the venue I find I am not the only one here. He is busy with another interview and I will have to wait. Fine. So long as I get the interview, I tell myself. I have almost got used to waiting in the five long months that I have been in the profession.
Having arrived at the venue full five minutes before the designated time, I was sure I would be the next in the queue.
But alas, a young journalist and a young organisation are not the best of combinations to get priority for a high-profile interview. I see the more experienced people from the Press Trust of India (PTI) easily sail past me and nudge me lower down the pecking order.
"Not only the media people but even the bartender and the driver want to talk to him and interview him,” his secretary says. I am not smiling at this, I command myself.
Ravi, our photographer, is getting fidgety too. But he makes good use of it and starts clicking away.
Here come the PTI people and, of course, we are next. But, of course, we are not.
This time, it's, yes you guessed it, a TV channel. I am told a news channel had already set up their equipment and were waiting for him to do a live interview for 30 minutes! Wow! And here I am, waiting for half an hour just to get my share of five to seven minutes.
Why do such intelligent people waste their time on television? I didn't even apply to any TV channel when I finished my journalism course.
In spite of such encouraging thoughts, I must still wait. A half hour. Twenty minutes. Ten minutes. Almost here. And here he comes. But, yet again, there's another TV channel lurking in the shadows to grab my turn.
They will take just five minutes, I am told. As if I will believe it!
But I wait. Five minutes turns to 15 and feels like five hours.
As soon as the famous man rises from his chair, his secretary says he'll have to rush now and there's no time. But I have been in the profession long enough to not take “no” for an answer, I tell myself.
As everyone waits for the lift to take them to the lobby, I bring out my recorder and start talking to Sachs. I keep praying that the lift takes longer than usual to come up. The lift's not up here and my first question has been answered. Yippie! We enter into the lift and he is already answering the second question. We have reached the lobby and I am recording the answer of the third question. Just four more to go, I make a mental note.
Sachs answers my questions in the lift, then in the lobby and even when he walks towards the exit door. But wait; his secretary has forgotten something and he has to go upstairs to get it. Someone up there truly likes me, I think. The questions and answers keep going on till his secretary returns. But once he returns, I don't get the chance even for the last question and a hurried thanks is all I can manage. Six out of seven questions answered, I count happily.
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