Crime Reporters, Inc.

by Uzra Khan:

Today was my first day reporting out in the big bad world of Bombay crime, as part of the crime team at a local paper (the last two days were writing/reading/edits from the office). A few days ago, there was a case of murder in a suburb of Bombay; four men were killed after a drunken brawl, their bodies left strewn atop a hill, and the prime suspect is absconding. They had been missing for a few days before their bodies were found, and their were massive protests about police inaction about the complaint that they had gone missing. A major highway was completely blocked off by protesters two days ago.

As a psychology major, I have heard the spiel about Western cultures being more individualistic, and Eastern cultures being more collective, very often. As an Indian at college in the US, I have seen and experienced it very often. Among my Indian friends, we take someone to the bathroom with us (it’s a running joke…), we never go shopping alone (it’s strange…) and we rarely eat alone. When we order at a restaurant, we order many dishes for the table, instead of one each (I think it’s a wonderful system!). Groups are an important part of everyday life.

I experienced it more than ever today. I accompanied a reporter from the crime team here to the police station in the area where the crime occured, to obtain their statement and their updates on the case. On our way, first by local train and then by tuk-tuk, we met up with young journalists from all the other rival publications. The camaraderie between them (despite the silent competition) was unbelievable. We stood outside waiting to be met by the commissioner, and the reporter I was with pretended to be mad at some of the others for not attending her wedding (she did the same with the commissioner too–apparently the crime beat is a tight-knit crowd), and proceeded to show us photos of it on her phone. Afterwards, we discussed the case over vada pav (Indian version of a burger) and cigarettes. They were shocked when I told them I don’t smoke, and that most of my friends in the US don’t either.

Mumbai at night (

I felt like I was being inducted into a little cult; Crime Reporters Inc. I’m excited about the next few weeks.