The life of a reporter in a troubled region
“The future smiled at me, because it was all an adventure and Shiva the Destroyer hadn’t caught my eye yet.” The meaning of this ominous sentence was not understood until later in the story. Yuri, the main character in I want to go away from the hidden sides of the reporter Van Guerry Boom, obtained a freelance position as a reporter for South Asia and settled with his family in Delhi, India. Freelance work as a reporter means earnings will be low and erratic. He wants to supplement his income with NOS and RTL-Nieuws reports. Moreover, he can continue to write for his previous employer, green Amsterdamand for various Dutch and Flemish magazines. He enjoys his work.
It soon turns out that India is not a fantasy land. There are many little beggars, they eat fruit in the car. The caste system is hard to understand. People are being searched everywhere; There have been several major attacks by Pakistani jihadists. The conflict between Hindus and Muslims is becoming more visible and appears to be larger and more dangerous than what we hear here in the West. Modi, India’s prime minister, is sowing divisions between Hindus, Christians and Muslims through his religious fanaticism. Then there is the sacred cow that causes conflict.
Tamar, Yuri’s wife, has no business in India and indicates that she wants to stay only for three years, while he himself has been thinking more than ten years. Goweri is a lot away, while Tamar enjoys the expat parties. They grow separately and live behind each other. Every now and then they get into a terrible fight because quiet conversation is no longer possible. Tamar indicates that she wants a divorce and leaves for the Netherlands with her two young daughters. No doubt the girls stay with him, because sometimes he’s away for weeks reporting trips. When Tamar and the girls are away, there is loneliness and numbness from drinking alcohol and drugs.
Due to traveling in difficult areas, Yuri started using drugs to blow off steam. Often with his cuddly friend Jeron Orlman, who goes with him on a report of trips to war zones. After each war trip, the need for drugs emerges and it seems difficult to stop.
I’ve made up my mind: no more wars for a while. Not only because I was afraid we were out of luck, but also because I felt there was only one way to eliminate my drug craving: to take less of those risky journeys.
Joeri realizes his luck has run out and is sure he no longer goes to the front zones, not even with Jeroen Oerlemans. On the one hand, he thinks about his need for tension in war zones, for adrenaline after surviving and celebrating life afterward. On the other hand, he considers being a good father to be his most important task. These two aspects do not go together. That luck could really run out when Jeroen was shot and killed in Libya. Joeri always realizes that his friend is dead but in his mind Jeroen stays with him and gives him advice.
Yuri makes the final trip as the Rohingya flee the fighting between Rohingya rebels and the Burmese army, which is in turn supported by Buddhist radicals. Yuri boards the plane to Dhaka and reports there about the fight. He does a report for the Jeugdjournaal newspaper about children who have seen terrible things.
“It’s great that you filmed it, Dad, because now we know in Holland too, so we can help,” says Juri’s daughter. The essence of the reporter’s work is summarized by his daughter. Joeri has to explain to people how the world works. Meanwhile, he is restricted by the limited space given to him by editorial boards. As a reader, you understand why he wants to report and you understand less editors who think they know what news the audience is waiting for.
The book is exciting from start to finish. Things are happening in India that you cannot imagine, from conflicts and earthquakes to people who are devalued because of the social class they belong to. It is almost incomprehensible that anyone could report all this and then return to the Netherlands completely. In the end, he chose a completely different existence, where he could still explain to people how the world works. He becomes a teacher in an elementary school.
Joyery Boom- I want to go away from the hidden sides of the reporter. The podium, Amsterdam. 392 pages 22.99 euros.