Saturday, October 8, 2011

You won’t get this at!

You won’t get this at!

tête-à-tête with Jake Halpern by Gokul P & Remya Nair

It was a very rare view of Trivandrum Golf links on this sunday evening from the apartments of Professor Jake Halpern.   This boundless greenish lawns & the silence which environs this place may sometimes makes you a poet or a painter. I do feel gratitude to this silence for making Jake more clear & audible to me & my batch mate Ramya who were there at his abode for a short chat. Prof Jake reached the capital city two weeks ago but, this is not his first visit to Kerala. He being a popular author, journalist & radio producer from United States, travels are part of his life. Now he is here in Thiruvanathapuram as a visiting Fulbright scholar in the Department of Communication and Journalism, Kerala University. As a journalist, Jake has written for The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, GQ, Sports Illustrated, The New Republic, Slate, Smithsonian, Entertainment Weekly, Outside, New York Magazine, and other publications.  In the realm of radio, Jake is a contributor to NPR's All Things Considered & This American Life. Prof Jake along with his wife Kasia Lipsk & two sons, shares some personal perceptions about his life in this interview.

Working as a journalist & teaching journalism are two different dimensions. How do you treat them?

            It varies from person to person. What I usually teach is what I usually write. My classes are mostly based on my experiences & I give examples from my own stories.

What is the impact of internet journalism over print journalism?

            (Clicking an icon of The New Times on his iPad) See, it is so compact & comfortable means of reading news. You do have the option of reading more than one paper over net. I think all the news papers have to make their copy available over internet.

How friendly is Thiruvananthapuram to you & your family?

            It is absolutely a friendly place.  My four year old son Sebastian, on his first day at school felt happy. He was the only foreign kid. But he didn’t feel any difference at all. We grownups may treat this situation with more difficulty, but for him it was quite easy. So, me & my wife were joking afterwards that among four of us he is more adaptable to this place.  It is the way how we look at things. The younger one Lucian is not that happy with some Keralite dishes.

When did you meet your wife for the first time?

            I think there are many things in America which I am not happy about, but something which I like the most is it’s cosmopolitan culture where people from different places come & live. My wife also came to America when she was fourteen.

Which are your favorite Kerala dishes?
            I eat more fish. I do like coconut and the aroma of coconut oil.

So Mrs Jake, how long have you been here in Thiruvananthapuram?

            I was here in 2002. After some time, I am just back in Sree Chithra Institute of
Medical Science and Technology. I am so happy for this come back. Some changes have happened, among them the increase of vehicles & traffic. It is something more visible. Fortunately we hire a car to go for work.

Professor Jake is so fond of some Indian dishes. Mrs. Jake, are you crazy about Indian dishes? Do you cook Indian food?

            Yes I like Indian food but I am a very bad cook.

How was last Onam here in Kerala?

            It was so wonderful. We had food on those leaves, with all colors on it, red, green & all. We ate with hands. It was nice.

So, Professor Jake, you are here to take classes in journalism. How different are the students of Kerala when compared with those in US?

            I am focusing on classes in magazine journalism. Students here are more formal. They are more polite. I was astonished to find a student coming to me asking a doubt after the class which he could not ask during the class. In US students are more open and friendly.

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