CHANNELING his core competency in media-based solutions, built after decades of experience, Oswald Pereira has built a virtual powerhouse of editing, content, training and communication services. Oswald offers customised solutions to corporates, multilateral agencies, NGOs, publishing houses, and professionals. His peerless media practices and rich and varied expertise has won him the trust of a global clientele.
Oswald has more than three decades of experience in top newspapers and magazines and in corporates. He has worked for leading Indian publications including The Free Press Journal, The Times of India, The Financial Express and Outlook. He has also been editor of niche publications on infrastructure and defence. Oswald teaches journalism to post-graduate students and has taught at the Times of India-owned Times School of Journalism. He is Course Leader for BA International Journalism at the Asian School of Communication. He is also an English language trainer for individuals and corporates.
Oswald also worked for four years with the Muscat-based The Times of Oman leading a team of journalists of various nationalities and reporting on the oil industry among other beats. He worked for two years as a special correspondent in New Delhi for the Muscat newspaper, Oman Daily Observer, covering national political affairs for the newspaper.
In the early part of his career in The Times of India, he covered communal riots and crime. In a bid to get first- hand information about the crime scenario, he spent time with Mumbai’s notorious underworld. Oswald wrote a weekly column, Police Lines for Times of India’s The Evening News of India. In The Free Press Journal, Oswald wrote a weekly labour column.
In Outlook magazine, where he held a senior position in the business bureau, he wrote special stories, including cover stories on the power, telecom and information technology sectors.
He is considered a veteran in journalism. He has also appeared on television as an expert.
After his stint at the Times School of Journalism, his students never tire of crooning, “To Sir With Love.”
Oswald is an alumnus of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, where he studied Economics Honours.
Before taking up journalism, Oswald, who lived in Mumbai, worked in various other jobs including as a store-keeper and an assistant to his businessman father, who fabricated heavy equipment for chemical factories. His job as a store-keeper included physical stock taking in dingy storerooms and preparing inventories. He kept accounts for his father and managed the less critical parts of the business. Oswald enjoyed standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his Dad as he supervised heavy gangs hoisting mammoth machines in chemical plants.
In his spare time, Oswald furiously stroked the keys of a rickety Remington Rand typewriter at home, churning out a young adult novel. An editor of a big publishing house in Mumbai (then Bombay) liked the book, but it was rejected by the chief editor.
Oswald was disheartened but luck seemed to have smiled on him: he had bagged what was then considered a ‘plum job’ in a top company as a salesman of weighing machines. On the eve of joining the company as Oswald was preparing his best clothes and a natty tie for the start of his sales career, Providence stepped in—in the guise of a friend—to change the course of his life and career.
His friend came over and tipped him about a vacancy in a small magazine, For You, edited and managed by a reputed journalist. Oswald discarded the tie and his formal clothes for more liberal attire and a breezier job, but at a less lucrative salary of 450 rupees. The editor earned two thousand rupees— considered a princely salary for a journalist in the late seventies—and drove a Hillman car.
The editor, who was also a boxer, pampered his four-member team of sub-editors-cum-feature-writers, taking them out for lunch and movies, inspiring them to write interesting human interest and investigative stories. One of the investigative stories that Oswald wrote was on the sinking of a state-owned ship, due to negligence and neglect of safety standards. It was a story that Oswald cited as a big achievement in his interview with The Times of India board members, who were impressed enough to offer him a job.
But it was in The Free Press Journal, which Oswald joined after For You became a sinking ship when the editor quit for greener pastures, where he first learned the ‘ropes’ of city reporting. The newspaper’s maverick chief reporter took him under his wings and taught him the skills of virtually cooking up instant ‘scoops’, without even going out into the field.
‘Cadaver Crisis In City Medical Colleges’, ‘Drug Addiction Rising Among Rich Kids’, ‘Criminals Run For Cover After Police Crackdown’, were among the ever-happening stories that the ‘chief’ taught him how to hype and convert into front-page by-line stories by an expert ‘new angle’ as journalists are wont to say. He coached Oswald on the art of building and cultivating all kinds of ‘sources’ for stories.
On occasions, the editor-in-chief himself would step into the chief reporter’s shoes. One day, he summoned Oswald to his cabin, offered him one of his American toasted cigars and said, “I want you to write a news feature headlined, ‘Sleaze Sells In Sin City’ as a front-page anchor for tomorrow’s edition. Take down the intro,” he said. But he didn’t stop at the intro and continued long after that.
He dictated the following story which read something like this:*
As the evening shadows lengthen, grimy groups of young men descend on the lanes and by-lanes of Colaba, with the stately and historic Gateway of India in the distance, a mute witness to their nefarious activities.
They hawk their sinful wares that include: the most pure and potent hash; a night out or a night in with a ‘fresh, new model’; sex with two women for the more adventurous; or a collection of the latest blue movies for the timid customer, not yet ready for real action.
Like mind-readers, they know exactly which customer is looking for what. And with the experience of their young years they can see who is gullible and who is smart. From the gullible customer, they demand an advance of a couple of hundred rupees and then disappear into some secret lane.
The smarter ones may be lucky to receive the services for their payment, but the delivery is never in full measure; it always falls strikingly short of promise or expectations.
The so-called models are the better looking or better-groomed imports from the city’s notorious red-light districts; and the second promised partner is either not present or turns out be a transvestite.
Yet men of all ages keep returning to these streets of sin, hoping that the next time around the pleasure will be for real.
This reporter, who spent a few nights at the scene, watching the goings-on…
As Oswald raised a mild protest, saying he had never been there, the editor-in-chief raised his index finger imperiously and said, “Now you’ve been there—complete the rest of the story using your imagination.”
Not that there was much to write as he had dictated quite a bit of it, already. But the story did appear as a front-page anchor, after the reporter’s additions were embellished by the editor-in-chief.
*This is not an exact reproduction of the editor-in-chief’s words as the incident occurred a long time ago and no archives are now available, though it represents the essence of what he said.