Adeela Hameed

You are Tuned in to ‘Life Happens for Real’ with Umme Roman Kundangar

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Vocal for Local: Podcast Journalism

Kashmir Images started an initiative, as part of India’s Vocal for Local campaign, of collecting inspirational stories from across Jammu and Kashmir, bringing to the readers fresh perspectives about entrepreneurship – successful only when practiced with persistence and conformed with patience.

Adeela Hameed, as the ground reporter and interviewer with Kashmir Images for this project, talks to a young woman podcaster from the Valley, Umme Roman Kundangar. With her podcast, ‘Life Happens for Real’, Umme takes listeners to stories gathered across continents. Stories of wisdom, struggle, of trauma, and courage, narrated by an entourage of guests from all around the world, to an equally diverse audience. She explains life by dissecting real issues into episodes, making everyone realize that we are all in this together, that we after all are only human!

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

Could you introduce yourself to our readers?

Umme Ruman Kundangar. I live in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir. I have done my schooling fromMallinson Girls School and my M.B.Afrom The Business School, University of Kashmir. I love talking and learning about people. And that’s how podcasting became my passion. Apart from this, I love baking and watching Netflix!

Podcasting is a relatively new form of journalism. It’s even younger in India, let alone our Valley, for that matter. What motivated you to start your own podcast?

I love learning about people. And as I engaged in colloquies, I felt that even though we are digitally engaged, a serious emotional disconnect looms overhead. There can be various reasons for that. Such as, personal, political or cultural difference of opinions, which affect people in diverse ways.

If we talk about Kashmir, more than 50% of the population is depressed in one way or the other. But when you givepeople a space to talk freely, without judgement, it helps them come together and share stories of hardship and inspiration. I also felt like, maybe, my attempt might help people know they are not alone whilst providing helpful ways to deal withsuffering.

It wasn’t easy because of the typical orthodox society we live in. So, it surely required a lot of courage and support. I am extremely grateful to my parents, siblings and my fiance for their unwavering belief in my work.

I have listened to almost all episodes from your podcast, and I must say, Kudos!

How do you decide the content you’d be working on and, of course, the guest speakers?

My podcast theme from the very beginning has been to search for stories from around the world, of people who have been through a difficult phase in life, and have now become life coaches. I use various social media platforms for the same. I must say, people in the west are really open to sharing their experiences. Also, they do have help available.

But if we talk about our subcontinent, the story is completely different. People just don’t talk about issues, keeping all sorts of emotions bottled in. That’s why I wanted to create awareness. Make them understand that if something bad happens, they should talk and not keep it all in because it’s only going to harm them than heal.

I understand editing and transcript writing must be really tiresome. You need new ideas and allure to bring in as many listeners as possible. How do you manage all the technical stuff?

Well, there isn’t much technical stuff involved in my podcast. Because the kind of stories I cover are really ‘sensitive issues’. Many of my listeners feel emotionally connected to these stories. Therefore, I refrain from adding any music. Although, sometimesI use various open source tools to trim audio glitches, if any.

Does workingmonofonia in the field of podcasting benefit? Would you like to have a partner or continue solo?

Well, honestly, I get requests from a lot of people for collaborations. However, the theme is really important to me and I can’t compromise on that. But, yes, if anybody wants to collaborate around the same theme, I am open to working with them.

Any advice, or suggestions for those interested in offline broadcast podcasting like your ‘Life Happens for Real’?

All I would like to say is, follow your passion. Don’t worry about people, because they will judge you anyways! I encourage everyone interested in this field to go for it and I wish them the very best.

For a Umme 10 years from now, will podcasting be a career choice or just something she would do in her past time?

Podcasting will always be my passion but I don’t view it as a full-time career, for now.Although 10 years is still a long time and things may change!

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