Shruti Shekar’s favourite things of 2018

Kim K

Every year on New Year’s Eve, I like to take a glass of champagne, take my drunk self into the bathroom and give myself a little pep talk in the mirror.

I always tell myself, “Shruti, this is going to be a good year. Take everything that comes your way and give it your best, no matter what.”

You see, that’s what most people tend to forget. Every year really is 365 days, and how you choose to live those days will eventually result in how you consider whether that year was good or not.

The one thing I never considered doing is taking a step back and thinking about five things that really stood out to me. Things that added a little bit more masala to my life and made me smile more than usual (not in a creepy weird way).

Before I start, I wanted to introduce myself and say thanks for taking the time and reading this list. I’m Shruti Shekar, and I joined the MobileSyrup team about a month ago and it was the best decision of my life.

I grew up mostly in Singapore and came to Canada for my undergraduate degree and from that moment on I never thought about living anywhere else except for this beautiful country.

I used to be a political reporter in Ottawa, but home is now Toronto and I’m glad to be back. Here are a few things that made my year awesome.

Breaking my first major news story

In December last year, I was approached by a woman who wanted to share her story of being verbally abused. She wanted to tell me what her experience was like working for Green Party leader Elizabeth May.

It was my first serious story, and the first time I would be working on a hard-hitting in-depth article.

I ended up interviewing a dozen people, went through hours of tape (some on the record, some off the record), and examined pages and pages of interview transcriptions.

It was the most tedious article to write and the entire process was nerve-wracking. The day before my former employer The Hill Times published the article, I was scooped by my now good friend Alex Ballingall over at The Toronto Star.

You can only imagine how devastated I was. Looking back now, it was one of the best moments because it taught me what it really meant to be a journalist — to be fast, accurate, hard-hitting, and vigilant.

The story went on to make national headlines and yeah, Alex and I are still friends, though I joke around with him about how much I hate him. In reality that would be impossible because he’s such a good reporter and I’ve learned a lot from him.

Dancing on stage at the Press Gallery Dinner 2018

Political reporters in Ottawa are all part of an organization called the Parliamentary Press Gallery. It is the group of journalists that all report in Ottawa and particularly have access to Parliament Hill and the Federal government.

It is a prestigious organization that I am very grateful to be a part of.

Every year, the gallery hosts a dinner to honour the freedom of speech and to honour the hard work of journalists. It is called the Parliamentary Press Gallery Dinner.

The one rule is that reporters have to bring either a politician, someone that works for the government, or a lobbyist to the event.

The Prime Minister and all the leaders of other parties give speeches and don’t hold back on the jokes, and yes everything is ON THE RECORD.

This year for the first time Canada elected a person of colour and a minority as a leader for the New Democrat Party.

Towards the end of Jagmeet Singh’s speech he wanted to teach everyone some bhangra, and of course, he asked me to come on stage to show off some moves. Check out the video to catch the whole speech and go to 12:25 to watch the dancing part.

Finding my some of my favourite podcasts

I find it hard to listen to podcasts, mainly because it requires a type of concentration that I find difficult to acquire when doing other tasks.

But when I began commuting an hour a day for work, I found the joy in podcasts. Listening to them was almost therapeutic and kind of hypnotic.

Not to freak you guys out, but I’m kind of obsessed with serial killers and anything to do with true crime.

This is mainly because I think the psychology behind them is fascinating. If you’re curious, read Jon Ronson’s book The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry — it’s incredible.

Back to what I was saying though. I discovered three podcasts that truly blew my mind and there is no way I can say which one is my favourite.

And that’s why we drink: A podcast with two women that discuss paranormal stories and true crime stories.
Last Podcast on the Left: A podcast with three men that have super researched, in-depth conversations and analysis on crime stories, conspiracy theories and cults.
My Favourite Murder: A podcast with two women who drink wine and read their favourite crime stories that week.

I don’t want to get carried away talking about them, but these podcasts really made me feel like I was sitting in the same room they were recording in and hanging out with them. I got to learn new things — sometimes things that were horrific — and my one hour commute felt like it was only 20 minutes. And yes, for those who might recommend Serial, I have listened to it and I love it!

But for now, go listen to these and let me know what you guys think.

Moving back to Toronto

For a very long time, I really wanted to move back home. I wanted to work as a journalist in Toronto.

It was so hard, not only because journalists were dropping like flies, but also I just didn’t even know if I wanted to stay in journalism because of how bad the climate was in the field.

Never in my dreams did I expect to get a job and actually make the move back home.

When I was in Ottawa, I would walk by the Parliament building every day and the view was spectacular. I always took a second to thank the universe for letting me do the job I love so much.

So when I moved back, my new view walking to work was the Toronto skyline and the CN Tower. Every day I walk to work, I take a second to thank the universe for letting me work in one of the prettiest cities that is full of energy and love.

Never stop dreaming folks, because those dreams will come true.

Working at MobileSyrup

You know what, it’s cliche AF, but I’m saying it.

I ended this year on such a positive and a banger of a note by getting hired to work at one of the best independent tech publications.

And here’s why the moment is so poignant. About four years ago, when I got my first tech reporting job, I went on Twitter (please follow me, lulz @shruti_shekar) and I remember following BetaKit and MobileSyrup.

I said to myself then that one day I would work at MobileSyrup. Hey, thanks Ian for hiring me eh?

Hope you guys continue to enjoy my work in the coming months because we’ve got a lot coming at you!

Image credit: Flickr, Jean-Marc Carisse