In a flash back reel of black and white laced memory located at St Mary’s Girls High school in Mangalore, the students of 10th standard will all crowd around their classmate during lunch breaks to listen her.
This local girl will read out parts from the mysterious novel she had written during interval gaps and the endearing style of narration itself was more than enough for her friends to jostle for space around her.
The journey of that Mangalorean girl has transcended borders and now she is the first non-resident-Indian woman to edit and publish a periodical abroad, a crown that was conferred upon by Limca Book of Records in 2010. Meet the vivacious, astute Veena Rao, the editor and publisher of the monthly publication, ‘NRI Pulse’ published from Georgia, US.
In an e-mail interview with Deccan Herald, Veena said that getting into journalism has been the most natural step for her as she had no skills for any other career.
“NRI Pulse was launched in 2006, as I felt that Indian-Americans and other South Asian communities in Georgia were not being represented able enough. There was not one publication that ‘made news’ out of the latest developments within the community”.
Today the publication serves more than one lakh strong Indian-American community and has an online edition. Before moving to US in 2001, she had a few years of experience as a sub-editor at the desk of a major newspaper in India and after reaching Georgia, she continued working with some publications.
Veena Rao elaborates that her periodical focus on the ex-patriate diaspora. “Stories on the activities of men and women in the community will definitely attract readers. The topics that affect us-- ranging from real estate market to job market, rising gas prices to resettlement of refugees are also given prominence,” she said.
NRI Plus is the only free monthly publication in the region and it survives solely on advertisement revenue.
She recalls the initial struggling where she had to drive her car filled up to the roof with copies of NRI Plus, and going from point to point with a map on hand, trying to set up distribution points. “It took me some time to find some of the spots, and several days each month to distribute. I don’t know if I am the first Indian newspaper delivery girl as well,” chuckles Veena.
Though she had moved to Pune from Mangalore at the age of 17, the coastal city is close to her heart as its all inclusiveness is a great lesson to carry along with.
“We lived in a colony in Vas Lane near Falnir and it was a little India. We have Marati, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil and Urdu speaking neighbours. Even there were families from Iran.
To be a part of myriad cultures, traditions and still holding up to a unique identity called India is something amazing,” she reminisces. She had her primary schooling at St Gerosa school and later at St Mary’s Girls HS.
As Veena’s mother is still in Mangalore, she chooses the port city as her base whenever she flies to motherland. Mangalore will find its place in her forthcoming novel, a dream which she has been nursing ever since she fell in love with the charm of letters.