Garner: Small beginnings

Bob Garner

Bob Garner


Sunday, July 1, 2018

I heard her Tuesday on the BBC World Service, where she presents each weekday’s first broadcast of NPR’s Marketplace Morning Report.

The heart of that day’s segment concerned pig slaughtering facilities abroad.

Some 25 years ago, ironically, she was being dispatched by UNC-TV to produce broadcast segments on eastern North Carolina’s hog waste-disposal facilities. She was North Carolina Now’s Kashmir-born student intern from UNC-Chapel Hill — and I was “swole up” enough to consider myself one of her mentors.

Now, I’m equally as proud to consider her one of mine. Speaking British English these days, rather than the slightly Southern-accented American-ese she had imitated during her student years in the Triangle, she thinks that’s “so, so lovely” of me. It’s now as natural as her smile and not the slightest bit affected.

Anu Anand’s family had immigrated decades ago and became involved in the motel business. Her journey toward freelancing for the BBC, freelancing from home, freelancing parenthood during a “work break” and back to the BBC (still freelancing from home) began, though, with a 1996 visit to her relatives in India.

Her immediate family’s motel management demands meant Anand had sometimes been a latchkey child with too much solitude on her hands. In India, she found she had virtually no “privv-ih-see”.

But what the Hindi word “tamash” describes — the chaos and spectacle of India — was no match for her overriding fascination with the sight of monkeys freely scampering over rooftops.

So she interviewed for a job with the now-defunct United Press International bureau in Delhi and decided to trade the relative security she had experienced in the United States for grinding poverty, pollution, caste distinctions, “worthy”-class arrogance, dysfunctional infrastructure … and adventure … in India.

Here’s where the “small” part enters the story. At the age of 23, she accepted the offer of a starting salary of $50 per month.

When I had lunch last year with her and other former colleagues in an upscale Carrboro pizzeria, she literally wept at the fear, dismay and initial lack of encouragement that emanated from her American family at the time. Which parents among us can blame them under the circumstances?

They came around superbly, to the extent of offering to provide an emergency financial backstop so she could pursue her dreams. But rather than depend on that, she slept on a broken-down chaise longue and otherwise lived in penury, determined to get by.

Fortune smiles on the brave, sometimes. By the time she actually arrived in Delhi, the remuneration had jumped to the princely sum of one cent per word, although no travel budget existed. Writing “like a fiend” from her office desk, she managed to cobble together around $300 per month.

See, it’s never a safe idea to pay journalists by the word.

Even though I have described her as an international “star,” Anand doesn’t summarize her career in that manner. She admits flatly that she tried — and failed — to find a “swallow your time” journalism career. You know, the kind that wrecks your marriage, makes strangers of your children and scatters your luggage, clothes and personal effects to the four winds.

It’s the kind I tried and failed to land, too, thank God.

She’s among my mentors because she chose to believe and act on what every world religion teaches, along with the golden rule and other wisdom. In our Christian Bible, it’s rendered in Zechariah 4:10 (NLT): “Do not despise these small beginnings …”

Most all religions on the planet also teach that those small beginnings — presumably small endings, as well — can actually become great triumphs. Sometime. Somewhere.

Bob Garner is a UNC-TV restaurant reviewer, freelance food writer, author of four cookbooks, barbecue pit master and public speaker. Contact him at bgarner2662@gmail.com.


Humans of Greenville


Local photographer Joe Pellegrino explores Greenville to create a photographic census of its people.


July 18, 2018

I am the queen of rustic desserts, which is a nice way to label desserts that are rather imperfect. The good news is that there is plenty of room for rustic and, yes, imperfect desserts in anyone's repertoire. In fact, most cuisines tout their own homey version of bubbling, squidgy desserts cobbled…


July 18, 2018

If you are looking for an unpretentious gathering place with tasty American and Irish pub food, plus karaoke, trivia and live music, then head over to A.J. McMurphy’s Irish Pub at 1914 Turnbury Drive. A.J. McMurphy’s is known for great domestic and imported beer, as well as an expansive…


July 18, 2018

Q: I like to try new foods and heard that nut butters are better for you than peanut butter. Is that true? — J.K., Greenville

A: There are of choices of nut butters, and many are being marketed with what I would call exaggerated claims. Many of the butters will tout their micronutrient…


July 18, 2018

Q My husband’s daughter just announced she and her boyfriend are getting married, and we are very happy for them. They are planning a wedding that is not out of line with the kinds of weddings their friends have been having, but that we consider over the top. The cost will likely exceed her…

Carolyn Hax

July 15, 2018


A TV viewer who I’ll call “Joe” recently commented on Facebook about my review of The Prime Smokehouse in Rocky Mount.

“Thanks for the review, Bob, but while I live in Raleigh, I'm a native of Rocky Mount,” Joe said with pride. “It once called itself the…

Bob Garner

July 14, 2018


■ Browns Chapel Holiness Church, 2260 N.C. 33 West, will host a youth service at 6 p.m. today. Evangelist Talitha Stallings will speak.

■ Burney’s Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, 2628 VOA Site B Road, will host its annual men’s day service at 11 a.m. July 22.

■ Burning Bush…

July 14, 2018

Mint, sage, rosemary, thyme, horehound, catnip, bee-balm, marjoram, pennyroyal, lemon-balm, hyssop, lavender, dittany and basil (is it BAY-zil or BAAA-zil?): what an aromatic bunch of plants these are! All of these are fragrant members of the widely distributed “mint” family, one of the…


July 11, 2018

The Leroy James Farmers Market vendor of the week is Yates and Bailey Bee Farm.

Yates and Bailey Bee Farm has been a vendor at the Leroy James Farmers Market for almost six years.

“I am a lifelong farmer,” said Bobby Yates, a Virginia native who got his first hive of bees at age 14.…


July 11, 2018

The smell and taste of food can catapult us back to our childhood, to a time when trips to family restaurants were weekly affairs, everyone knew our name, what our favorite drink was and how we liked our steak. The best part was the gleaming, rotating dessert wheel that was filled with every flavor…


July 11, 2018

Q I am trying to get more vegetables into my meals but still am struggling to make my goal. Got any suggestions? W.L., Winterville

A Congratulations on your efforts to improve your vegetable intake. As it happens, Kara Massotti, a new Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with ECU Family Medicine, just…

292 stories in Look. Viewing 1 through 10.
«First Page   «Previous Page        
Page 1 of 30
        Next Page»   Last Page»