I had just moved to Pune for my Bachelor's and like any another youth of the 90's, was still reeling under the swamp of boy/ girl bands, their collective attempts at singing and commendable efforts at keeping their mousse-set hair in one place.
Soon after, I joined Fergusson college and was promptly seen loitering around the campus, usually guided by a hungry stomach.
On one of these hunger-driven days, when I was reasonably close to the Goodluck Restaurant, at the traffic lights, I spotted a colourful rag at the local news stand.
JAM - Just Another Magazine. It had everything a collegian needed to know – career tips, funny articles, spoofs, gossip and the ubiquitous glossy wallpaper (centre-spread).
Post a few quick exchanges of emails; I became a Bureau Chief – essentially a not-so-secretive eyes-and-ears of the organisation, responsible for reporting any gossip, happenings and events on the college campus.
This reporting took on a range of topics and I certainly didn’t stop at anything specific. My first small write up was about a popular chai stall outside Kamala Nehru Park, followed by a review of an ice cream shop on Fergusson College Road. Just so that people don’t figure out my pattern (stomach-driven), I also reported about other things such as this:
Whilst doing my writing, I also connected somehow with the JAM man in Pune – Carson Dalton. He was JAM’s go-to man in Pune. Not without reason as well. He was and is probably the coolest guy I have come across. Not only did he write for JAM, he was also their sales/marketing/business development unit in Pune. He offered me the role of distributing JAM throughout Pune and I gladly accepted this offer.
For over a year after that, every fortnight, I’d visit the cargo area at the Pune railway station, haggle/plead/beg/offer chai to/bribe (more or less in that order) the Cargo Officer to release the magazine gunny sacks that often shipped from Mumbai without the consignment docket, collect around 200 copies of the mag, load them on my trusty old Kinetic Honda and start making the delivery rounds throughout Pune. (When I say Pune, it does not mean literally all of Pune. JAM was available at only 20-30 stores, mostly near the Camp area, Deccan and a select few in Kothrud).
My bedroom walls bore testimony to my allegiance to JAM, via a rather curious and eclectic mix of glossy wallpapers of celebrities, names of whom I’d rather not disclose and further embarrass myself!
It was a thrilling experience dealing with the guys stocking JAM throughout Pune. Starting from a cuppa chai with the Railway Station news agent, to the 2 gorgeous (and flirty) ladies at the Hallmark gift shop opposite Wadia’s, the incredible old woman on MG Road, just around the corner from Westend (she sold the maximum number of copies each fortnight), to the family business outside Sagar Arcade. A few had no clue as to how the distribution worked, but still played well enough when it came to the cash.
Along with offers of endless cups of chai at each news stand, to lively banter about cricket, movies, to the business end of the magazine swap (the part where the shopowner and I tried making sense of the number of copies sold, any owings etc), the delivery round was full of experience.
On a few occasions, I’d have company, with the JAM man Carson, joining me for some chinwag and we’d usually finish our delivery round with a King Burger at its namesake joint on East Street.
In my last year of graduation, my batchmates at Fergusson got together and banged their heads at designing departmental sweatshirt/jumper and I had this to say:
All throughout the last year of my Bachelor’s, we were subjected to some really interesting professors, prompting me to come up with this write up (anonymously, of course):
This stint with JAM, and being in good books with the JAM man, I suppose, also got me free entry into some really cool places and events – pubs to organise JAM events, music concerts, quizzes, that sort of stuff. Plus, it was also a handy gig to try and impress the ladies. Ahem.
With growing personal and educational commitments, came lessening of this wonderful association and I handed over the distribution/delivery to another enthusiastic bloke 2 years later.
For me personally, it was more than Just Another Magazine.