Pallabi Munsi gets called a hustler. A lot. And she doesn’t feel the need to protest.
Hustling through alien landscapes — big bad cities that won’t take her into their arms easily, or hazy, networkless pockets of the Himalayas — is one of her favorite things to do. That should explain her time in the four Indian cities of Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and New Delhi, especially the last one where she now lives.
Over her years in journalism, she’s seen political turmoil and human rights violations up close, spending hours with refugees who have landed in India from Myanmar via Bangladesh, convicted gangsters the world was on the lookout for, politicians strategizing the future and the voiceless on the margins of the society — all of them products of the new Asia. As her friends jokingly say: She can walk with the riffraff and die with the princess just to find out why people do what they do.
When Pallabi’s not sleuthing for human interest stories and placing them into the current political context, she can be found befriending strange but lovely tunes. Her latest playlist houseguests — Hozier, Hiatus Kaiyote, Farhad Darya, Ady Suleiman, June Marieezy, Li Yuchun, Leon Bridges, Momina Mustehsan and Jorja Smith, among others — would agree that they have led her to many cultures, and thereby a multitude of stories.
Eight years on the news desk might have turned her into a reluctant cynic, but Pallabi’s glass is, on most days, still half full — ideally of some new kind of cocktail.
Pretty much why her next stop after mainstream Indian national dailies is OZY, where she plans to bring to the table the new, the next and the unknown from across Asia.
Remind her of the adrenaline rush that comes free with telling a good story and give her some old friends or some new people with the chance of becoming old friends, point her to the table where the glasses fill themselves up over crackling conversations and her glass will become full-full again.