I remember being asked by a good friend who was concerned about my future: "What kind of research have you people done? Have you carried out any surveys? Is there room in Bombay for one more eveninger?"
We had all left Mid Day sometime in January. And we were planning to launch The Afternoon a few weeks later, in March.
Did we have time for surveys? No.
But what we had going for us was belief. The belief that we had a lot going for us.
What we had going for us was gut instinct. Not for a moment did any of us think that it couldn't be done.
What we had going for us was confidence. We knew we were good at what we were doing.
Above all, what we had going for us was an editor all Bombay loved and respected, and 30 or 40 people — from office assistants to experienced journalists — who believed in the idea of a newspaper that would be run without any interference from "owners".
Sure, there were problems on the way, mainly financial, but all of us stuck to our task. And not too long after it was launched, The Afternoon became the city's No. 2 newspaper because both Evening News and Free Press Bulletin, unable to stand the competition, closed down.
Twenty-five years on, The Afternoon and Mid Day (the latter now owned by the Dainik Jagran group) are still the only English evening newspapers in Mumbai. The Afternoon, now led by the redoubtable Carol Andrade, is back on its feet after a particularly troubling phase and it continues to make its presence felt. And afternoondc.in is a great example of how the sensibilities, tastes, and needs of readers can be incorporated into a newspaper website.
Five months ago, on March 25, The Afternoon's 25th anniversary, I was thinking back to those frenetic early days. So guys, this one is for you: Behram Contractor, Mr Kanangi, Carol Andrade, Shashi Jadhav, Mark Manuel, Archie D'Cruz, Sabbas Joseph, Leo Manickam, Suresh Baliga, Mobin Pandit, Sharad Kotnis, Glen D'Souza, Anthony D'Silva, Arvind Kulkarni, Tara Patel, Menka Shivdasani, Conrad Prabhu, Anthony Azavedo, Jerry D'Souza, Dinshaw Dotivala, Mario Miranda, E.P. Vijaykumar, P.S. Rajan, Elias Hendricks, Prabhu, Jadhav, Ramdas, Vasant, Hari, Prashant, and many others who made such vital contributions to our great newspaper experiment. Salud!
- Read Outlook editor-in-chief Vinod Mehta's tribute to Behram Contractor: "My friend Behram".
- You can feast on the "Round and About" archives here: "Busybee Forever".
- Read Carol Andrade's take on faith in Open magazine: "My Kinda God".
UPDATE (June 21, 2013): Commitscion Natasha Rego (Class of 2014) lived up to my expectations (and perhaps exceeded hers) when she filed this brilliant story for The Afternoon: 10/10 for a newspaper story written by an intern from Commits.