Dream of becoming an automotive journalist? Don’t give up | Aatish’s blog
Breaking in to automotive journalism can be a daunting task, but a bit of grit and determination can take you far
Don’t give up on those dreams!
evo India turned seven last year. I remember exactly what I was doing seven years ago. I was standing in a queue at the Times Lit Fest in Mumbai to get my copy of Gandhi Before India autographed by Ramachandra Guha when I noticed a tiny stall with a few magazines, and a bright orange Aventador on the cover. Journalism school had put me on to a diet of Chomsky and Sainath, but I hadn’t stopped devouring my car magazines on the side. The Lamborghini caught my attention, but the fact that there was an SLS, Conti GT, R8, 911 and XKR-S next to it in India, left my jaw on the floor. Who were these guys? I bought a copy, but didn’t think much of it.
To me, being an automotive journalist was a dream. Much like being an astronaut is a dream to many. Through my childhood, I always believed that it would remain a dream. I believed that when I grew up, I would have to get a real job. Go to a real office. Do real work. Because whichever way you slice it, driving cars and writing about them barely qualifies as work. I almost got sucked into the black hole of engineering coaching classes. I almost got swayed by the dismal state of society and applied to be a correspondent with The Caravan on politics and society. I nearly gave up on that dream of being an automotive journalist, because it seemed like a world that was too distant from mine — one that would be impossible to break in to.
An internship with Autocar India changed it all. Like every intern at every magazine will attest to, it was the most menial of tasks — compiling not just the specs, but the entire detailed features list of every car in the market on to an Excel sheet for the WhatCar! website. It was mind-numbing. This was 2014, so the internet was up and running. Everyone had online brochures so I wasn’t even getting out of the office and going to actual car dealerships. I spent hours poring over that screen, sorting out everything into the format I needed and compiling them together. That WhatCar! website never saw the light of day, but I don’t mind. That stint got me in touch with one Ouseph Chacko.
When I graduated, I got in touch with Ouseph and found out he had quit Autocar to join evo India. I asked if they had an opening. I was hoping for a job, what with having interned at Autocar India twice already. But nope, there wasn’t a job on the table just yet. Another internship. Disappointing, yes, but I wasn’t one to give up when I was so close — I didn’t have a college that I needed to return to. So I stuck around the office, made myself useful in every way I could and hoped they’d keep me around longer.
Five years later, in the middle of the lockdown, I was promoted to Assistant Editor of this magazine. Did I see this happening when I joined? Not a chance in hell. But here we are. evo India has given me more opportunity than I could have ever asked. I remember I had a total of five bylines for the second anniversary issue, three months into my internship with them. I took the Nissan Terrano to Goa looking for great seafood, but also got lost on the way. I partnered with a driver on a kamikaze mission on the Dakshin Dare rally. I tested an excavator. I rode from Nagpur to Daman on a Benelli. And I interviewed a man that owned an Audi.
There was a lot of luck on my side. evo India was restructuring when I joined and that sent a lot of opportunity my way. But there was also a lot of grit and determination — putting my head down and working through everything that was sent my way. And it has paid off. What I’m getting at is this — don’t give up on what you want. Your dreams may seem out of reach right now, but life has ways of working things out. Trust your gut, and go with the flow. But most importantly, keep working on yourself and never say no. It will take you places. It has gotten me this far.