The news channels have five lines of pointless text, relegating the actual visual to a corner of the screen. The Sunday papers are down to 28 pages, with a quarter of them just full of ads. Those working at the Souk and the Shamiana are are universally grateful, with nary a sneer in sight. The buildings get taller and taller. Some dividers now have plants in them. And several old haunts are now merely extinct.
But....the crowds on trains are still a seething mass of elbows, sweaty shirts and chameli tel-seeped hair. The traffic is still the real-life equivalent of dodgem cars. The sun is still bloody hot this side of the world. The hawkers still rend the mid-afternoon peace with drawn out promises of a plentiful bounty. The old neighbours still spend their evenings in quiet contemplation while staring at the passing world. And the crows still haven't forgotten how to wake you up at 4am with their daily chorus.
The little things, baby. They're still the same.
PS. Travelling back home means three things - family, friends, food. Posts will be infrequent, comments rarer. The backlog of unread posts is a task best left for newer times.
The news channels have five lines of pointless text, relegating the actual visual to a corner of the screen. The Sunday papers are down to 28 pages, with a quarter of them just full of ads. Those working at the Souk and the Shamiana are are universally grateful, with nary a sneer in sight. The buildings get taller and taller. Some dividers now have plants in them. And several old haunts are now merely extinct.
When Indians think of Zoroastrians, we think of many things immediately.
We think of the Taj, and Jamshedpur, and Godrej steel cupboards, and meat-orgies in the guise of wedding dinners, and little Irani cafes, and those mysterious fire-temples, and Duke's Lemonade, and generous educational charities, and little enclaves in prime Mumbai localities, and how they pronounce 'द' as 'ड' (ask one to pronounce dahi. Guaranteed hilarity).
We think higher education, and hot girls whose parents let them wear a lot
more less than most other parents do, and boys with a fascination for Yezdi and Bullet bikes, and white-collar jobs, and large numbers of unmarried old cranks, and dark woodern furniture, and depressing Canada-based writers, and beautiful embroidered sarees, and a higher-than-average level of eccentricity.
We think of them as a community that is better off as a whole, than most others in the country.
Which is why people get suprised when they find out that there are poor Zoroastrians too, and that they also exist in rural areas, as this article highlights.
A related video can be found here (warning: It's in Gujarati), while the actual film is linked to in the last update below.
Not quite the image that first comes to mind, huh?
Related pics and info here.
Update: And a look at those Zoroastrians still
living surviving in the land where the religion was founded.
Update 2: An earlier post of mine about the community.
Late, late Update: The article's actually written by Kaevan, who has a couple of interesting blogs on Parsis. He was also kind enough to provide the link to the actual film.
BRING BACK FRAGGLE ROCK !
sorry. Random nostalgic outburst over.
I'm certain there's a word that describes an instinctive reaction in some people to avoid for as long as possible any new thing that is glowingly praised by everybody else. And I'm sure we've all experienced it.
My best example of this phenomenon was refusing to read GoST for about three years after it had been published. I was certain I would hate it, that it was pretentious, and was only being promoted by people who refused to accept anything but novels as 'literature' (I really must do that post on defending SF&F).
Of course, I ended up loving it.
Now, in all fairness, I've only read it the once, making it one of those few books in my collection that I haven't re-read, and one of a very small number that I claim to like but haven't re-read. So, if I read it today, eight years after I first did, I possibly might hate it. Who knows?
What I do know is that the woman herself - and all her other writing - evoke mixed feelings in me. Strong mixed feelings. I mean, I know she's an idealistic nutjob, and she waffles - oh how she waffles - but she does occasionally come up with some really relevant questions and opinions.
Anyway, the point of all that intro, was to point you to her latest article. So much waffling, and so many random tangents, but some very valid issues too. Especially that bit about one particularly self-important news anchor.
And yes, posts will probably be infrequent for the near future, and the ones that do occur will probably only be related to this topic.
Terrorist. Terrorism. Terror attacks.
We bandy the words about so often, and so casually, that they stop meaning much. As outrages become more....outrageous, it all becomes oh-so-familiar. But we forget what they're meant to denote.
Breath-denying, sweat-inducing, irrational-hatred-forming paranoia.
The kind that makes you take longing looks at your home whenever you leave it.
The kind that makes you hold on to those you hug for just those few moments longer.
The kind that gives your eyes a life of their own in public, making them jump in their sockets.
The kind that makes you shout suddenly at people for not doing a complete recce of the area they've just entered.
The kind that comes from the mass hysteria that suddenly explodes into being as everybody else realises what you've known so long.
...that you're not (as) safe anymore.
That the travels you so monotonously undertook could at any moment be exposed for the unprotected targets they are.
That the doors you waltzed through could now be treated with the same contempt by those who would willingly introduce your body to the scorched path of a few rounds of ammunition.
That there is no understanding those who would willingly hunt you down to casually destroy you, and that your only hope in escaping them is to be luckier than others.
And that there's a world of a difference between being afraid, and being terrified.
Any attempt to post feels as if doing so is more about our words than their lives.
But the need to rant and hand-wring and pontificate - all uselessly - keeps battering at my skepticism of there being any use in giving in and doing so.
I give in. I do so.
On Saturday, when everything was coming to an end, and the TV channels were still behaving like idiots, a lovely little way of getting back at them - and perhaps, slightly preventing irresponsible reporting - occurred to me.
We organise a group (through blogs, word of mouth, whatever) a large crowd who will go and try and interrupt every broadcast that shows 'live' action which potentially threatens the lives of others.
Just land up behind/next to/in front of the cameras and start shouting. Something like 'SCUM!' would do for starters. Or maybe just start ullulating. Anything to distract attention and stop the morons from blathering on. All while wearing bright red tshirts (so that if the cameras did capture the scene, it would appear fuzzy and make their broadcast look less professional (yes, I know, very petty)).
If it even threw the reporters off for 10 minutes, it will be worth it. And if it really worked, we could maybe have a live on-air argument with that annoying woman where we can tell her just how stupid she (and her ilk) are being,
And what's the worst that will happen? A fistfight with the media as they protest against our behaviour, and claim we're violating the freedom of the press? You know what, haven't had a scuffle in years, and oh wait, the freedom of the people comes first. Or maybe the cops will start arresting people for disturbing the peace? Fine. We'll sue them. And get media coverage.
I'm serious about this.
I only regret I didn't think of it on Thursday, and try and get whoever was in the city to do something like this. It'd at least be better than sitting in front of the TV, cursing the lot of them.
Ennui does not equal resilience.
Having to work to earn money to live does not equal 'spirit'.
I feel tempted to blow all my money on spending the next few weeks flying to wherever my friends are and shaking them till their teeth hurt, for joining one of those Facebook groups. And shouting at them.
Oh yes, well done! You have virtually announced to the world that you won't take this lying down/that the city will fight back/you will send a strong message of defiance to those who would bring you down. Yes, now all the people who hate you/your religion/your city/your country's progress will realise how silly they are, and come begging for forgiveness. Yeah people, that's it! They may be cold enough to gun down unarmed innocents, but they will shake and scurry because you e-slapped them. Solid.
I can understand the rage and the frustration and the sense of helplessness. The need to vent. To do something. Anything. But I'd rather do something, some very little thing, even if it just means going and drinking a cup of tea at the Sea Lounge so that the Taj has a little more money.
I'm not even going to go into how joining such groups, and only joining such groups, is a smug cop-out. I'm not going to go on about how I can't - and haven't ever - seen the point of things like this (beyond the hope that with enough people getting together, some real dialogue and action might happen). I'd just wish they'd join some groups that actually try and do something. Like this one group a friend of mine has formed, which is trying to help people do something with Teach for India.
Things like that may be small, and may take a while, but at least they're doing something. How is putting a candle in my window going to help anybody - unless I bought it from a candle-hawker outside the Gateway and helped him make up for some of the lost revenue of the past week?
No wait, why waste my money flying around the world to shout at them. I'll just virtually sigh at them in disappointment. I might even tsk them.
I'm trying to think of any other major city, in an at-peace country, which has seen experienced anything remotely as public as this in the last, oh, two decades. Yes, cities have had bombs and planes and revolutions, but this....
The whole thing just keeps working better in favour of the guys who did it. After all that they did, we're left with one guy whose testimony to rely on, which means you can't compare stories between two of them to see if they match (not that they wouldn't match, seeing how thoroughly they'd been prepared).
And I bet their leaders are smiling with all the war talk. Two countries, both of whom have suffered internally, prepare to get violent externally because of trouble caused by groups they have no control over. And this talk is creating more chaos and uncertainty within, for these same guys to exploit further. And meanwhile, everybody forgets about Afghanistan.
Exactly what they wanted.
Three questions :
1. If the media were talking to guests hidden in the hotel rooms, why weren't the police (to update them, to advise them, to get more 'on-location' information from them)?
2. Do our fire rescue teams not have one of those cushion-things that allow people to jump onto? Wouldn't that have been considerably quicker than using that crane?
3. Could we make a legitimate legal case against the media for endangering lives; or, Who wants to sue the shits out of India TV News Inc?
They say India is under siege, and everbody worries how it will cope.
And I think of Beirut, and Jerusalem. And of our own parents four decades ago, frantically taping up windows to the backdrop of those scary sirens, and then huddling together inside, carefully parcelling out food, and wondering what else would there be less of on the next day.
"Do bloggers, journalists, writers and activists really matter at a time like this? What do they do, except stand at the sidelines and comment? You know how we always believe that the media has the power to influence thought and progress? Does it matter? A bunch of intellectuals analysing situations while people die on the streets?"
- Mudra Mehta
Words. Mouth. Taken. Wise, young 'un, wise.
In case you need more news,
Orange Jammies was putting up a live twitter feed.
And Vinu went out the streets to take some snaps.
* Opinion posts, I should have clarified. Information will be posted if important.
For Brinda*, who wants more.
The recent inactivity has been due to a (regular) confluence of many events and thoughts.
Of observing the ever-increasing shrillness of the media, where advertisements pass for articles, and facts are but dead flowers to be thrown on the compost heap. Of reading books which focus more on what others have said before, than on anything they might have to proclaim themselves. Of questions that are the same, millennia after they were first asked. And whose answers are as myriad as they are unhelpful.
Of a worldscape so complex and swift that understanding and sanity are nothing but little islands. Of watching people deepening the grooves of the same paths that those before them have covered before, and not realising how cliched it all is.
Of dealing with language and words, and the inevitable wonder and frustration of doing so. Of how all we have left are trivial sub-plots of stories ancient - and how we excite ourselves when someone details them in a manner that is but nuanced from those before.
Of how all we do is react, and all we've ever done is react, and how 'creation' is such a misunderstood and misused word.
Of how nothing is new anymore, if it ever was; and how this itself is not new now.
Of dreaming, yet again, of a world that exists beyond silence.
* I'd point you to her blog, but she doesn't have one. Don't ask me.
"Real life is regularly running out of money, and then food. Real life is having no proper heating. Real life is physical. Give me books instead: give me the invisibility of the contents of books, the thoughts, the ideas, the images. Let me become part of a book; I'd give anything for that".
- Scarlett Thomas (The End of Mr. Y*)
* A little too-overblown mish-mash of language, philosophy, and the concept of existence in a style that perhaps most closely resembles Poe's more fantastical works. The arguments and counter-arguments, and the various works by other authors that it prompts one to? Great stuff. The actual plot? Ehhh.
n., That stage of your life where you cannot remember the last time you ate, bought, or even simply wanted a lollipop.
n., That stage of your life where you (conveniently) cannot remember the last time you ate, bought, or even simply wanted a lollipop, when questioned about the same while trying to pester someone into getting you one.
There are many things the world has to thank the British for - all those wondrous writers, all those creative musicians, all those manic comedians, the chip ("Britain's contribution to world cuisine"), those ubiqitious Victorian buildings that provide some sense of familiarity when visiting new countries that were part of Pax Britannia, and perhaps most importantly, Cheddar cheese.
Most of these have managed to spread to various parts of the world and have been welcomed with varying degrees of enthusiasm. But there is one 'invention' that has largely been restricted to these shores (and a couple of other countries).
The charity shop.
For those of you who've never been in one, it's quite simple - these are little stores run by a particular charitable organisation, and most often run by volunteers. So you have shops affiliated to Oxfam, or cancer organisations, or local groups that work with children, or autistic people, or the elderly. They almost exclusively rely on donations, and most of them stock the same kind of range - clothes, books, and knick-knacks. What each store specifically stocks varies quite a bit, depending on the area they're in and the kind of clientele that come into the shops. So while some may have a lot of clothes, others may focus more on books, while some pay more attention to CDs, DVDs and the like. And because the stuff is for sale, most of it is very good quality and often brand new or almost-new. And, obviously, much cheaper than anything you would find at a standard retail shop.
Which is why they're so popular. There's a certain endless fascination in wandering into these shops - particularly when you're not looking for something specific - and just browsing. You find all sorts of weird and delightful stuff, and the joys of trying to imagine who would have bought some of those things (and why they gave it away) is worth the effort alone. To me perhaps that's one of the most important things about them - the diversity and surprise they provide in an otherwise oh-too-standard shopping expedition. Unlike a normal retail outlet, you never quite know just what you'll find when you step into a charity shop, and that thrill of discovery when you find something so quirky you know you wouldn't find it on the High Street....well, let's just say it's like the best scavenger hunt you ever had as a kid, times ten.
Also, when you buy books at the rate I do, the prices help.
Anyways, that's all introduction. The real point of this post - and something that's been intriguing for some time now - is this:
Why hasn't this concept caught on in other countries?
I know the US has the Salvation Army, but even there charity shops aren't that common or popular, are they (I'm genuinely asking)? And I'm thinking of countries like India, where there are so many charities who rely purely on donations and fund-raising, and which is a nation of shops, but which have no comparable outlets. Ok, I know the WWF has a couple of shops, but that's about it.
I've had this discussion with several friends from home, and many of them argue that in a country like India, we don't really need such shops because their activities are covered through other means. For instance, because we have so many poor people, things like clothes and shoes can be given directly to those who need it, or to charities who accept and distribute them. And money, which is perhaps more immediate a need, can also be given in the same manner. So - they ask me - why should a charity go through the hassle of finding an appropriate location, getting people to run it, sorting through all the junk that people will inevitable thrust on them in order to find the 10% of really good stuff that can be put on sale - when instead they can just get the stuff and distribute it directly?
Fair point. But that's only for the poor isn't it? There are so many charities who require money - those that tend to people with physical disabilities, people with mental disorders, cancer patients, heart patients, etc - and who solely depend on fund-raising. Doesn't it make sense for such agencies, say the Cancer Patients Aid Association, to be able to generate funds through an outlet which sells good stuff that people donate.
Ah, but my friends always argue, which Indian would be seen going into such a shop and buying second-hand goods? The shame!
To which I say - poppycock.
Indians love a bargain. This is why places like Fashion Street exist. And if there was a shop that sold new or almost-new products, at half the price from a standard retailer, there would be throngs - throngs, I say - flocking to such a shop.
Besides, who said it has be clothes. I'm thinking books. We all bemoan the lack of good second-hand bookshops that offer a wider variety of titles than the current favourites stocked by those boring corporate chains. And there are so many of us that get rid of books, usually by giving them to a raddiwalla or some library where nobody will ever read them. So if there was a shop that stocked only books and music (like Oxfam Books, or BHF Books & Music), most of which were in mint-condition, and whose proceeds were going to charity, don't you think something like that would work in India? And if it would, why hasn't it been tried so far? Not even Oxfam, which has projects in India, has attempted something like this.
I, for one, am clueless as to the lack of them. You got any ideas?
And while I don't make too many long-term goals, if I ever do get back to India, this is something I want to try and introduce. For any charity. Because I just cannot believe that it wouldn't work. And, of course, doing some good while being surrounded by books - well, that's heaven, no?
Updated: I forgot to mention that many charity shops also sell their own range of new products, which they source from somewhere or get manufactured. This is an option too to consider for such a venture back home. Or, corporate gifting.
And it just occurs to me that to get around the problem of getting people to come and donate, the charities could always set up a system where people could give their details when they have stuff to donate, and volunteers can go around and sift/select items from their homes. This happens here in the case of some charities that accept furniture - they will happily come round and collect it, so that's one less hassle for you.
"Well, fuck me!"
He always said that. It was his thing. To have met him was to have heard him say it. With variations. Alternative stress-points, dramatised delivery, multiple exclamation points, the works.
After the initial shock/amusement, people just got used to it. They barely registered the actual words, but instead focused on trying to gauge the emotions that accompanied their expression.
Towards the end, he began saying it more frequently, and at the very last, that was the only thing he would say. It didn't matter if you bumped into him after months, or if you'd been seeing him every day, or if you were talking music, or discussing politics over dinner, or even just playing chess. That's all you would hear, those three words, again and again and again, the only notes emerging from the record as it wound down to its scratchy little end.
It was only later that they realised why.
Nobody ever had.
Get a pair of really good ear plugs. Like the ones you get in the better airlines. Or, if you'd like something fancier, you can do as TR does.
Insert them aurally* till they're as soundproof as you can get.
Move to a quiet place.
Close your eyes and listen to your breathing till your heartbeats start to really start pounding one funky beat.
With one hand over your heart - Jump.
* I don't care if it's in the wrong context.
Bliss - eating condensed milk straight out of a tin.
Eccentricity - lathering it onto your toast.
Foolhardiness - adding it to your coffee instead of milk.
Ewwwwness - contemplating that scene if Brando had used it instead of butter.
n., Choosing not to finish reading the rest of a book-series that actually started off interestingly but faded somewhere down the line* - despite knowing that all the time you have already spent on following the series is effectively wasted, since you won't know how it all ended.
Sensibility - Giving up on a book that you started only because it seemed interesting, but wasn't.
Possibly the only thing more irritating than tags are those 'personal' quizzes. Which is why one likes making them up for others to indulge in. And at least you know the answer to that perennial question when you come across one of these things - who makes these damn things up anyway?
1. When attending a concert -
a) You're the kind of fan who identifies each new piece within three notes being played - and then goes "woo!" every single time.
b) You angle your head, close your eyes, and gently nod in time to the music - just to show that you get the 'true depth' of the music.
c) You try to get as many signed memorabilia as possible so that you can sell them on eBay.
2. When you blow your nose, you -
a) Shake your head from side to side while doing so, because everybody knows that that's what really gets the snot out.
b) Always take a peek at the result, hoping that some pearls of wisdom might have dropped out of your brain.
c) Deliberately make as loud and disgusting a noise as possible. And really stretch it out.
3. When randomly gazing at the palm of your hands, you -
a) Always try to figure out what the different lines are supposed to stand for.
b) Take a pen and highlight all the grooves.
c) Hit it with your forehead. Fun becomes.
4. When you come across a mirror in a public place, you -
a) Always adjust your hair/clothes/makeup. You like perfection.
b) Beam at your image and call yourself a rockstar. You're always perfect.
c) Thrust your nose up against it, just to gross out whoever's operating that camera that you know is hidden behind it.
5. When presented with red paint, you -
a) Give yourself a teeka. You're a desi, demnit!
b) Throw it on public walls and (when arrested) make a bad pun about painting and towns.
c) Sniff it. Heaven for budget-dopers.
6. You would rather have -
a) A bird in the hand
b) Two birds in the bush
c) A mass orgy with seven of them, in a jacuzzi
7. You would prefer to be -
a) Roger Federer's Wimbledon jacket
b) Roger Federer's forehand swing
c) (Rafael Nadal, kicking) Roger Federer's ass
8. When watching Friends, you -
a) Get turned on by Joey's manboobs
b) Get cravings to go out for food whenever you hear the word 'Buffay'
c) Want Hugsy
9. When you write poems, you do so because -
a) That's what you do
b) It's who you are
c) You love messing with people's mind by randomly throwing together vague, lyrical phrases - and then watching them unearth the 'real meaning' behind it
10. If you were the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, you would definitely add the word -
How to rate your answers:
For every 'a' selection, throw a lollipop at a cat. For every 'b', say the word orangutan 44 times. For every 'c', give yourself 99 points.
What your score indicates:
What do you think it indicates?
Ok, enough pedant-giri recently on this blog. Time for some keedas (Aishwarya, you will forgive me for starting this, but you just weren't putting this up on your blog, and it was too good to pass up).
The orgasm game.
No, it's not what you're hoping for, you little desperate blogreader you. Down pheromones, down!
Now, what this is, is this - simply come up with appropriately clever/hilarious/groanpunworthy names for orgasms specific to certain groups of people. Ideally, they should rhyme with the original word, but we're ok even if it just reads right.
Examples/already thought up -
Vikings have Thorgasms
He-Man has Skeletorgasms
Exfoliating agents have poregasms
Neo-cons have wargasms
Oliver Twist has moregasms
Sci-fi lovers have Tor-gasms*.
Jim Morrison fans have Doorgasms
Golf players have foregasms
Scientists have Bohrgasms
Retailers have storegasms
(and my favourite)
Sikh women have kaurgasms.
So, hit the commentspace. But please, NO mass puns in one comment (that means you Falsie).
* In-joke. Re: Tor books.
Let's be clear.
There might be people who can remember every nuance and every aspect and every angle of someone they've loved deeply. Remember just how their face looked in every different light. Remember every moment of every kiss, and the exact intensity of every exclamation of pleasure.
Sure, there might be such people. It's just that they would have an eidetic memory.
For us normal folks, any chances of the above happening would be equal to the odds of finding green polka-dotted ice-monsters in the seas of Neptune.
To me, anybody who says something like the words in the first para isn't thinking or talking about how love is -they're on about what they think love should be like.
They've bought into this ridiculous idealised version which has been propagated throughout history by too many overdramatic novels, and was probably originally thought up by some idiot who spent too much time thinking about love than actually being involved in it. Although I'm not quite convinced it wasn't thought up by someone who was continually rejected and maliciously created this illusory height of emotion in order to torment all future generations, driving them crazy in trying to achieve it, and then condemning them to endless bouts of doubt and conflict when they (inevitably) couldn't.
And we all fall for it. We all think that this is how it should be, that our every moment of being with the person we have chosen to be with should be suffused with this insane kaleidoscope of constantly replayed slow-motion videos of the other - taken from seventeen different angles, of course. We all think that if, after a few months, we cannot exactly remember what they wearing when they were doing that with us, but we can remember what that that was (and how good it felt), then we've somehow failed at the altar of the oh-so-perfect Love. That if we end up being with that person, and living with them, then even twenty years later we should be able to wake up one morning and look at them while they sleep and remember all those other mornings of years past when we did the same, and be able to recollect just how they looked then as well.
What utter bollocks.
That is passion, not love. The remember-every-touch thing is possible - but only for dalliances that last such a small time that you have no choice but to remember all of it, simply because there's so little of it to remember, and you don't want to think there wasn't enough of it, because then it would mean that it wasn't serious enough or real enough, and that all your energy and emotion was spent in some charade, and you don't want to think that now, do you.
That's passion. A little hot-water spring hidden mid-way up a little hill, whose periphery you walk around in a few hundred paces, and which will remain the same for decades to come, and which you can revisit again and again and find no change.
But love....now, love is like a river that you're on. It's always there, and (if you remember the old riddle, you know what's coming) it's never the same. It may start off boisterously, as a body-numbing waterfall in some remote hilly region which it will may never revisit, only to slither down sharp rocks and meander across vast plains, sometimes taking a detour, sometimes spawning little streams and rivulets and other little images of itself that explore and showcase other facets of the whole, before it ends up in the sea (which last can be what you take it to be...life, death, the entirety of your emotions...we're flexible here, people).
It's there, but it's different all the way through.
Love, or true love, or being in love, or whatever other fancy name you want to give it, is not about being able to remember what a person looked like - it's about being with someone till you forget what they look like.
Till they're not just a face and some curves and lines and an interesting birthmark, but till they're just a presence around you. Not just another presence, mind you, not the oh-yes-my-couch-has-a-presence-and-are-you-equating-love-with-that-you-overthinking-idiot types.
No, the presence of a loved one is the type that you're aware of even though you can't see them. The type whose silences convey the exact expression on their face and in their body language, across barriers that hide their physical presence. The type who you can talk to and laugh with while watching TV, even though they're not there (and yes, even while you're missing them terribly because they're not there. (what? Nobody said it couldn't be paradoxical)).
The type which somewhere down the line they become the small things - a smile, and the crinkling around the eyes when the face they're on starts laughing, and the tilt to their head when they're telling you off, and the little thing they do with the fingers when they're reading something important.
The type who you look at after twenty years, and while doing so, get this surreal feeling that you've not really seen them properly, and realise there's still more to them than you thought, and there's still more to discover. Even after all these years.
Passion may be a water-bed, but love is a comfortable pillow.
And you don't need to know how soft/firm it used to be if it still fits the curve of your neck just right - and if you realise it always has.
So do yourself a favour. And stop with the drama.
Stop driving yourself crazy about not remembering things about the person you're with, but remembering stuff about those others who you might briefly had a fling with in the past. Stop with the guilt about whether you really love the person just because you don't happen to think of them when you're with other friends, or watching a film, or listening to your favourite music.
And more importantly, stop spreading the damn myth!
Unless, of course, you've been continually rejected and want to torment all future generations, driving them crazy in trying....
The uncloaking continues. (Warning: May or may not be true)
If you look into my right ear through the back-end of a moncular, using a purple filter, then if you manage to get exactly the right angle, you can see an image of the Hoover dam. Oh, and there has to be a half moon in the sky.
You can deal with the lack of food-stalls on nearly every street corner.
You can deal with the near-absence of decent restaurants that serve food as it really is made back home. After all, there are enough shops that stock everything you need to make it yourself, if the need gets really bad.
You can deal with the ridiculous prices demanded for fruits that you crave for, when your palate demands them, in keeping with its own seasonal-memory rhythm.
You can just about remember that you can't just land up at someone's house without any warning anymore, because face it, you do get more privacy yourself this way.
You can somehow manage to live away from your family and friends for all the months at a stretch, because hey, webcam chats baby! And well, you're making new friends.
You don't really need miss the language, because everyone from back home seems to have got the same idea as you, and we've decide to colonise the world.
You can deal with all this, and pretend you're just on a long vacation. That you can take all the difference in weather, colour, faces, clothing, grammar, attitude, spice-levels, cleanliness, and customs, because it's all temporary and it's not going to change you, because you're still who you are when you were who you were back there. That back home is still home.
And then you realise just how long it's been since you heard crows making their miserable pre-dawn racket.
Since your sleep was punctuated by random canine howls.
Since you drifted to the window to see if what the basket-vendor was selling was interesting enough.
The little things, baby. They kill.
The first excuse of the absent blogger - Oh, you know, real life happened.
So your blog isn't "real"? It's just some bolt-hole within your mind that you conjure up whenever you can't be arsed dealing with what's really happening to you? It doesn't really exist, and all of what you write on it is just part of some twisted little game you're playing? Is it not worth all the time and effort that you put into it, and others donate to it? Why? Just because it's less tangible than any of your other activities, like - oh, watching TV perhaps? Yeah, like that's so real. So real that they even have to remind you that it's 'reality' that you're watching. Or, maybe it's not as real as 'reading books'. Oh yes, because poring over endless repetitions of five basic themes* which are only distinguishable from each because of marginal nuances of style and character and setting, in the hope that you will learn the answer to the misery that hounds your existentialist sorryass, is so much more real. Oh yes, bow to my bibliophilic snobbery. Cringe before my librarised brain. Validate me baby. Or is just not real because it's not in person, and because you're hiding behind some little facade-name that sounded cool when you first thought of it but which now seems increasingly....silly? Just because you can't see the people who read what you spill out, and who you communicate with, that make it all unreal? Makes it something you can just walk away from, without consequences? Just because you don't mean half the words you write means somebody somewhere might not take them seriously, or be affected by them, or be changed by them? Just because it's online? Well, fuck a crow, then it's not "real life" is it, it's "off-line existence". Because, buddy, you now exist on the web, whether you like it or not, whether you think it's just a phase or not, whether you think you're safe behind your carefully preserved pseudonymous little corner - or not. You exist. You blog. Okay you may not exist because you blog, but you blog because you exist. And your blog exists. Unless you kill it. In which case there's no question about what's "real", is there. Because it's gone, to be gradually shunted into the back corners of the consciousnesses that ever knew of it, only to be sometimes brought forward and curiously examined. Gone, like all the other dreams you had and thought to achieve, but which you never fulfilled either. Gone, like you will be too, one day, in your "real" life.
So, blog - or don't. Just don't whine about it.
* Love/hate, sex, greed, angst, joy
No snaps here of models to keep you thrilled for the next two days. Go away, you dirty person.
To the other readers, a question -
You probably allocate, consciously or not, a certain 'tone' to the works of certain authors. A distinctive style, a 'voice', if you will. And not just the truly great writers, whose work can be identified in a blind-test, but even the lesser ones who you may read regularly. This is normal, right, because writers work on creating a unique style of writing anyway.
But....have you noticed if you tend to read books by different authors at a different pace?
And I'm not talking of just because of the way the author writes - it's difficult not to read Hemingway and not feel like you've just heard an M-16 tell you a campfire story, or read Raymond Chandler without your lips sneering on their own. Reading at a certain pace because of key words that deliberately raise or lower the speed of the book is inevitable.
No, in a sense, I'm asking about assumptions again.
Do you, when you pick up a book by an author whose style you are familiar with, or a book whose review you've read and whose style you anticipate, automatically begin to read the book at a certain speed, in a certain frame of mind - regardless of what the book's real 'pace' may be?
And if you do, have you noticed whether and how it affects your reading habits?
Personally, my answer to both questions is yes.
I've realised that I am guilty of this assumption. I pick up certain books by certain authors, or in a certain genre, and assume they'll be of a certain pace. And every so often I find myself....discomfited...till I realise that there's a lag in the assumed and real pace of the book. It's almost a physical uneasiness, as if you've set out for a run after a gap of a few months, and realise a little while later that the pace you've set in your mind is in sync with the ones your legs are really producing.
And even when I'm not assuming, I've found that I increasingly read certain books at certain times. And this is not just because of their content, but because of the activity-level which the book induces in me. There's no way I can read a Heller at bed-time, for instance, while a Pratchett is reserved for evenings and weekends.
To clarify, this is not the speed at which you read the book that I'm talking about, but the pace at which you assume the words would read if they were heard aloud. Not the same difference.
For Aishwarya, who reminded me that I hadn't quite detailed this, and has been kind enough not to nag me about it in all the weeks since.
There are many ways in which blogging can mess with your mind, and assumptions about pseudonymous bloggers is right up there.
When I began blogging, I did so with a deliberate intent for it to be a fresh start. It was not to be an extension of my identity, although it would be sourced from me. I wasn't sure what I was going to blog about, and I didn't want to inflict this on anybody I knew, so I chose not to go public with my identity. And for those who didn't know me, well, it really shouldn't have mattered who I was.
Of course, I knew it would matter, because none of us are really comfortable with the anonymous or the unknown. And in a world that has become so used to - and wary of - hoaxes, attempting to ask someone to accept that you're a decent person and what you say is on the level, is perhaps attempting something rather quixotic.
And so, I reached a decision. I didn't want (need) to let some strangers into my personal life, but I was happy discussing, and being educated and introduced to, all other issues. This was not to be a diary, but rather, an outlet for the randomness inherent in me that circumstances had led to being mildly curtailed.
But I decided to take it a step further, and not describe myself at all. No details about what gender I belonged to, where I was from, my approximate age-grouping, nothing (it's a different matter that most of this has now emerged).
This decision to remain undescribed was partially triggered by a curiosity to know just how far people would go in accepting what I was writing, and how they would intepret it. Especially given that the circles I was bound to end up in would be full of literary, questioning minds. At what point, I wondered, would somebody say "Yes, yes, this is all very interesting, but how do we know you really believe this, and are not just yanking our chain*?"
(...and before you get all angry at feeling as being made part of some social experiment, please do note the 'partially' in the above para).
It was also partly encouraged by a curiosity to see how the words sounded like without context, with any bias about who was writing them. Even to me. I wanted to see whether all these things I was thinking and writing made sense when I re-read them (while trying to assume somebody else had written them). This practice is....interesting...because sometimes when you re-visit thoughts that you pour out spontaneously and passionately, you discover that they don't really make as much sense when they're viewed more calmly (This is not good for your ego, and leads to a whole new can of jumping jackfruit). Or, sometimes, they do make sense, but you discover additional angles and insights (by far the tastier, and more preferred option).
(This is why, if you ever go through the archives again, you might notice that the posts have been edited, or (in drastic cases) deleted).
I guess it was also because of my uncertainty over the whole blogging thing itself. I wasn't sure why I was doing it, wasn't sure how long I would keep at it, and I wanted to retain the option of being able to pack it all in and leave with a minimum of fuss if I got bored or frustrated with it.
This whole approach seemed to be acceptable, although there were the expected speculations. Largely, though, people were ready to accept the posts and the blogger at face-value (and don't I thank you all for it). However, once I got set in, and began to get read, something rather interesting occurred.
People began to assume that I was female.
Which wasn't such a obviously-wrong thing to do, given the number of female-rights news articles that I kept pointing to, and all those recipe-posts. And it seemed to get confirmed when I left a comment on one of my posts using a friend's login - who happened to be female.
It was an assumption. And like all group activities, it took one person to decide that the assumption was true, state it publicly one day, and everybody else assumed so. It didn't help that I didn't explicitly deny it - I just sort of ignored it. But it gained ground and within a few days, seemed to be a firmly established fact. To the extent that even new readers to the blog assumed the same.
Although, I can somewhat understand that last bit, because when I visit a new blog, I try to get to know more about the blogger from the comments. But what was interesting was that this assumption was accepted despite any evidence to support it from the actual writing.
This was all very fascinating. Anything that I now wrote, was being perceived through the lens of my being a female (apart from, possibly, Space Bar, who had her doubts). Even though these were the same things that I'd been blogging about from the beginning. And as this continued, and as I began to mention more about myself, the image of me that others had (or, that I seemed to believe they had) gradually diverged further and further from who I really was.
To the extent that even I began to see this person as somebody real. Increasingly, when I sat down to blog, I would feel the presence of a young woman who was lucky enough to be able to eat what she wanted without having to worry about weight, liked to cook, loved SF&F, was vehemently outraged about the rights of women (especially in India), and who was given to madcap antics (at least in her own mind).
It began to subtly affect the matter of my posts and my comments. I increasingly spoke about myself and my habits and likes and dislikes, trying to see if someone would realise I didn't seem like a woman, but it only seemed to make people think I was some kind of tomboy. I increasingly became careful about how I would word my comments (especially in discussions/arguments), so as to say what I wanted to, without completely revealing myself to be not-female.
It was also interesting in a literary sense. I remember that somebody (probably OTP) had linked to some online 'calculator' that would try to define you as male/female depending on the content of your blog. And I realised how silly that was. Because in speech, we casually - and perhaps unconsciously - use words that relate to our gender. But in writing, most of this gets stripped away - at least, if you write. Because that is the mark of a good writer - being able to convince the reader that they can truly detail what the character is feeling/thinking, without letting the reader even slightly remember what gender the writer belongs to. And if you visit a large number of blogs and don't try to find out anything about the blogger, or if you're given blind samples of blog-extracts, it would be seriously difficult to try and identify whether the blogger is male or female (exceptions for Diaryists, of course).
It was fascinating to see how people also received the posts, because of the female-assumption. Take this post for instance. I suspect that if I had written it today, I would have got a lot more "ugghs" and "ewws", followed by "such a typical guy thing to do". Then, it caused mild surprise. And there were others like that. And if you haven't realised it, my Urf-post was the ideal Urf, because not only was it not in my style, it made people convinced I was the gender that I really wasn't.
It even got to the stage where I semi-considered "coming out", and confirming my 'female identity'. I was tempted to start writing posts which were subtly but definitely female in tone, so as to make people seem that I was slipping up about who I was without realising it (yes, too many spy movies).
Thankfully, better sense prevailed and I chose to end the matter when I did a few months ago. Because anything else would have simply been a betrayal of trust....and a rather sad and silly thing to do. Also, it was seriously curbing the kind of posts I wanted to write, and the comments. How things are now, is much better.
Now, lest you think I'm laughing at everybody who was part of this then - I'm certainly not, ok? I understand why you would have thought what you did - I would have done the same. The fact that you accepted it, and didn't question me, is a mark of the level of trust involved, and I'm thankful for that. But it's fascinating nevertheless, and I'm just detailing what was, and why.
....although there are days when I wonder how much fun it would have been if I had kept quiet about being a guy.
* What chain? Does anybody know the origin of this phrase?
Shefaly points me to this good post by Usha Vaidyanathan, which covers a similar tangent. The valid points raised there, taken together with that discussion on blogging and writing, leads to some interesting conclusions.
Such as, while some writers may also be bloggers, it's not necessarily true in reverse. Neither, I would add, is it a given that all writers can be bloggers, or that no blogger can be a writer. It is possible that people can bridge, or even overcome, the gaps that separate the two activities.
It is interesting how similar they can be, and how dissimilar.
Both demand a certain discipline of regularity. Both allow you to explore themes and ideas and voices with widespread freedom. Both are intensely individualistic activities, and hold an element of suprise for the giver and the receiver as to what will come next.
Because it so much more personal, so much more free-form. And so much more time-dependent. We all know the feeling - miss a few days of following other blogs, and you're saddled with scores of posts to read, and comments to go through.
And in this sense, blogging resembles not so much editorial and comment-pieces, but conversations you have in the college canteen. With people going on about whatever little or major thing that happened to them in the last day, and commenting about the latest news in the world, all in ever-fluid groupings formed of mutual interest.
And just like in college, it's possible to just drift into these conversations, and find yourselves a few months later intrinsically embedded in them. And some day, some people just up and leave, because they find other things to do, or their honours classes leave them no time to indulge in chatter.
And this is why (I feel) some people create blogs, post for a while, and then go off. Because they've fulfilled whatever need it was that made them start it in the first place, or because they realise they've exhausted whatever benefit they could get from it, or because they just got inundated with other things to do.
I've tried to convince myself that the above sort of activity isn't 'real' Blogging.
I've tried to believe that there's some sort of an ideal, where the blogger is devoted to the cause, and doesn't just start a blog and maintain it because "it's there", but rather because it is something they want to, or need to, do. A person who doesn't just blog just so they can tick it off the labels they attach to themselves, or as a conversation-piece, or to add to their resume - but because it is something who they believe themselves to be. Who uses the medium to enhance themselves, and guide others, and forge an existing idea into something new. Who doesn't stop posting and say it's because of "real-life".
Somebody who chooses to say "I am a blogger", rather than "I also blog".
But, I'm not convinced.
Or rather, I'm not convinced that's all that blogging is. Because it can be an additional activity that one does, alongside one's guitar-playing and book-reading and marathon-running. It can be something you just come back to occasionally. It can be something you take part in, as an extension of your other activities, without considering it to be anything more than another medium of expression. It can be something you turn to because you need it then, and something you move on from, once you've had your say and done your thing.
This is probably not very illuminating, but then, I'm thinking aloud - and that's what blogging is too.
And perhaps, trying to define Blogging, or blogging, is just a futile exercise, because there are as many forms of it as there are the people who do it.
So, two things to answer - why we blog, and how do you define a blogger.
The easier one first - why do we blog? Shefaly's post earlier this week offers an answer:
"Some blog for professional reasons; some blog to create a discussion and a community; some are working to create a living archive of their lives; some blog because they need the discipline of writing regularly; some blog because others are blogging."But those reasons only partly fulfill why I started blogging, and continue to, and how I do. To explain those reasons.....flashback!
**********Backintimemode eshtart keejiye*************************************
I originally decided to dabble in blogging while setting up a blog for a friend over four years ago. After that petered out, I began this blog over two years ago. It stayed static with one three-line post till the period that you can see regular blogging beginning (from the archives). Why?
Because I had nothing to say.
I began the blog because I felt that I needed to learn to write again (see here why I'd stopped). There was also this conceit that the book that had been bubbling inside might eventually reveal itself, once I did some, you know, actual writing. And a blog seemed like a good intermediate way to go about things (of course, that idea got canned (and you know why)).
But, after months of that one post, nothing happened. And I realised I'd really started the blog because I thought I should, and because - as Shefaly says - everybody else had.
When I did eventually start properly blogging, it was because -
* I felt like it
* I had something to say (however undefined and random it may seem)
* I found it was fun.
And that's why I still do it. Of course, the sense of community is another major reason, otherwise I would have never been part of this maaaad pun-a-thon (which was, like, the bestest!).
*****************Backintime mode khatam**************************************
So, more reasons. To which, as Shyam notes, some people just do it for the glory. To which KM adds - le moolah. To which Shefaly appends, 'archiving' or building a 'repository of material' which may be used elsewhere. Not to mention there have to be people out there just doing it so they can get a date (and no, not Falsie - have you not read his posts? After that introduction, kaun dimaag ki maari bechaare ko chipkegi? (Don't worry Falsie, we still love you)).
But that's not all, surely. Some people do it because they need to vent, or to receive some form of validation. Some people blog because they have the time to spare to do it, and because they can. And some people just want to get a book deal out of it and make some money.
And that, perhaps, is that.
And so, to come to the crux of the matter, is there something called a Blogger, or is that just another myth invented so that we can feel a little better about ourselves?
Ummm...in part 3 ok?
My definition then was simple - the former being the mere creation of a blog to put up stuff that was already created, and the latter being the process of reactive and/or stream-of-consciousness writing.
But this definition seemed simplistic, because a blog can be more than just about posting your thoughts, memories, or opinions. It's a (web) log isn't it, and so even if it is just the writings of that person, it can be seen as a log of that person's thought process and the changes (if any) in their writing style.
So a blog (perhaps) is simply a personal page for a person to put up whatever they want, or like.
It was then that I realised that what I'd done was simply define the medium...not the users of the medium. And this perhaps was because of the phrasing of the question (hey, even super-intelligent pandimensional species get this wrong, ok?).
So perhaps, the question really was - is there a difference between someone who has a blog, and a blogger?
Now this, finally, was interesting. And although it may seem as semantics, it goes to the very heart of what (to me) blogging is, and understanding why those of us who do it, do so.
More of this in the next post (I'm splitting them because otherwise it would too lengthy - the next one up in a few hours).
Further to the post on 'blogs as neighbourhoods' (re: (More) Thoughts on Blogging, dated Wednesday 24th September, 2008), I would like to bring to your kind attention that the concept described in the post above (hereinafter referred to as 'the previous post') can also be applied to a further instance, viz., parties.
As proof, I would like you to submit to you that the entire virtual domain of blogs (variously referred to as 'blogosphere', 'blogland', or 'bloggyworld') be assumed to be a standard party given at an individual's abode of residence. Keeping this in mind, it is my humble argument that blogs and bloggers can be compared to the generic personality-types that frequent such parties. In evidence, I propose that -
1) Some bloggers represent the effervescent personalities commonly referred to as 'the life of the party' (hereinafter referred to as Type A). These Type A personalities attract the most attention at the party, as everybody else is keen to either meet them or be seen with them. Complete attention is paid to any uttering made by Type A personalities, however banal and trite, and are invariably followed by a chorus of affirmations, exclamations about the insightful nature of the utterings, and exhortations to continue delivering more of the same.
2) At the self-same party, there are also exist those who mingle exclusively amongst their own friends (hereinafter referred to as Type B personalities), and who have attended the party only because their friends are attending too (this attendance is equally likely to be due to reluctant agreement under peer pressure, or because they genuinely wanted to attend and were supported by the afore-mentioned friend circle). Type B personalities usually make little attempt to get involved in conversations with those outside their immediate circle, although they may be open to following such conversations from a distance.
3) I would like to submit that such a party will also include the inevitable 'lonely soul' (hereinafter referred to as Type C personalities), who is determined to inhabit any ill-noticed position, either due to an innate shyness, or due to a desire to observe the events of said party without being involved directly. Type C personalities are not immediately forthcoming when approached, but are usually prone to become highly voluble about topics that they are particularly passionate about.
4) Additionally, the party includes 'speechy' and 'preachy' people (hereinafter referred to as Type D personalities), who can be counted upon to fulminate excitably on a range of topics, preferably those that are in the limelight of current affairs. This passion is often seized upon by mischief-minded individuals ('trolls', or Type T personalities) at the party to work Type D personalities into a frenzy, usually by making some derogatory remark about such topics, for the sole purpose of providing entertainment.
5) Additionally, a large number of bloggers may be classified as the 'standard guest' seen at the party (hereinafter referred to as Type G personalities), and who are content to enter, enjoy, and exit the party with a minimum of fuss. Type G personalities usually partake fully of all the opportunities the party provides, and are unrestrained in mingling with others, even those they may not already know.
I hope the above examples quite clearly support my original argument, and will be viewed as such by your good self.
I eagerly await your astute judgement of the matter, and kindly request you to expedite the matter at your earliest convenience.
I've posted before about how blog relationships are like Venn diagrams. It has since occurred to me that there are other models to describe blogs, and bloggers.
Neighbourhoods, for instance.
An extension of the concept that each blog has its own 'address'.
Some blogs are like those neighbourhoods that are more popular and more desired than others. Everybody wants to be seen there, and even if they don't inhabit the area, they want to be known as if they are close to people who do inhabit them. These blogs are always full of life, with lots of back-and-forth chatter between the cool folk who're seen as being privileged to live there.
Such blogs also attract lots of lookers-on, shy folk who want to become part of this community, but are too uncertain about their own 'coolness' factor to attempt to establish contact. These people end up simply hanging about in the public park that borders these areas, watching enviously at the fun, trying to put together a coherent story from all the names and events that get bandied about, pausing occasionally to try and make sense of semi-regular references that seem to be the cause of much mirth and mock-outrage.
There are blogs that are quieter locales. Little alleys full of little personalised touches left by those who live there, and which yield unexpected treasures if you ramble far enough and often enough through them. These places are usually discovered by just a few lucky people, who find that their joy is inexplicably unappreciated by others who they introduce these areas to.
These places often have an ethereal feel to them, and give the impression that the only continue to remain inhabited, because of the appreciation shown by the few who do visit. These visits themselves are often the matter of unceasing surprise to the inhabitants, who cannot understand what interest others derive from what they themselves view as mundane and arid surroundings. Conversations in these places tend to be short, with long pauses, and then only at varying intervals when the inhabitants deign to come out of their shadowed tenements.
And then there are blogs that are community enclosures. Self-contained worlds that only grudgingly bother about the bustling world around them for unavoidable purposes. Worlds in which everybody is an aunt or uncle or sibling or child. Where every newcomer is keenly watched, and is a source of much (usually non-malicious) interest, till such time as judgements of character have been universally issued and agreed upon. Where what really matters is the little occurrences that made up the day, while the events of the 'outside' world are mentioned to share mutual feelings of outrage, ridicule, and hilarity.
Finally, there are blogs that are public spaces. Institutions so big that everybody merely shares them, visiting them for individual needs of entertainment, education, enlightenment, peace. Places where a person's own individuality is, by necessity, diminished to their leaving a little mark saying that they were there.
(My contribution to the never-ending Bruce Lee jokes. I was going to keep this till next week, but I couldn't resist)
Q: Why did Bruce Lee's opponents run away when he turned up for fights wearing a skeleton suit?
A: Because they realised he was Dead Lee.
Ta-daa! Have a nice weekend, y'all.
(Warning: May or may not be true)
I can't remember the lyrics to songs.
Well, not entirely.
I can remember the main line, and some other interesting/catchy lines do get stuck. And sure, there are a few songs I can remember large parts of. But on the whole, I usually end up going "Actual line, actual line, mumble mumble, na na na na".
And this seems to be recent. I distinctly remember playing lots of Antakshari when I was chhotu-motu - and being able to carry my own back then. Sometimes I reason it's because I've continued to read more than I listen to music, and I'm probably remembering more storylines than lyrics. I like to think it's because I stopped listening to the words, but focused on the music. This sort of reasoning does more for self-esteem than having to admit I just can't remember the darn words.
Either ways, it's a pain to not be able to quote them randomly. Which is why you haven't found me indulging in any on the comment-space in all this while. In fact (more head-hanging), most often I don't even know who you guys are referring to, unless you do state it. Then I have to go Google the lyrics. Yes, that bad.
So what do I do instead? What any self-proclaimed writer-type would - make up alternative lyrics*. Which is why for a while back there, I was singing -
Girl put your kettle on,
I've got some fresh baked scones,
and we are going eat them wiiiith cream.
We are like that only.
* This is quite different from my habit of making up alternative lyrics for songs that I can remember. Which is a fun way to entertain yourself when you're waiting for things and have no other means to amuse yourself. Like so,
why are you so lazy;
the glass is so hazy,
it's driving me crazy,
it's driiiiiiiiving me crazy.
It's not polite to be rude (ha! new slogan), and while I've tried to keep out of the whole blog-award thing, people insist on giving them to me. Which is nice of them, but.
Now the reason I'm so award-indifferent isn't because I have a problem with people appreciating others - it's just the nature of them that I don't appreciate. From what I can make out, these awards originate when somebody decides to create a graphic and pass them onto their friends.
That's not an award, that's a gift.
Now, if there was a blogsite where these awards were announced, and people nominated those blogs that they thought deserve the awards, and people voted for them, and then the award was given to 'x' number of the most voted-for blogs, then the whole thing makes sense. And it's a more streamlined process too. Otherwise, with the current system, everybody and their ant (sic) gets the award, and that just devalues the whole thing.
However, while principles are important, compromises are polite.
Now, since I don't put up any awards I get, people imagine I'm not getting them, and then they give me one (often the same one), and I have to thank them and explain why I'm not putting them up, and in the meanwhile, other people go and give me another one, and it's round and round the garden like a teddy bear.
I'm accepting the ones I've been so kindly given thus far. Just this once though. Because I'm quite happy getting your comments, and being read, which are prizes in themselves (dialogue maara).
Firstly, I'd have you know I've been a Rockin' Girl Blogger for a while. Which honour I'm thrilled to (posthumously) bestow on
BM/OTP Revati, because she was the epitome of the title (since nobody thought of giving her one while she was around. And then you wonder why she left bloggyland).
Then, this blog has been deemed Brilliante, not once or twice but thrice. And finally, Dewdrop has declared we're eternal blogpals.
There. Covered. Thank you - Space, Shyam, Bride, Mad Momma, DDD - for the appreciation. Really (this is not sarcasm).
Now, back to blogging.
Labels: Announcements and such
He finished proclaiming his latest view. Moments later, the expected storm of outrage, scorn, and counter-arguments burst.
He weathered the first wave, amazing as always at the vehemence that a few well-chosen radical words could raise. He then sent forth his words again. New outburst, another comment, yet more backlash.
The hours passed. He finally stopped when it hurt too much to laugh.
Another successful day baiting other commenters on Rediff.
When those that are gone, return, it takes but a few moments for it to seem as if they have never left. Everything seems as it was, matters return to their old rhythms.
And the pain that was, is forgotten, instantly swept under carpets of denial and in-the-moment contentment.
When those that are, go away, it takes little time for you to take longer to remember that they were ever there. Like a fact you once knew but cannot remember just now, they shadow the outposts of your memory - haunting you with the history of their existence, damning you for the vagueness to which you've reduced them.
And the pain that is, may eventually ease, but you never cease to ache*.
* I thought there was a positive point to this when I started, but it seems not. Sorry - Space, OTP, Scout.
Those posts may not start today (busy-ness became), so instead I leave you with a little exercise.
Count just HOW many times the reporter used the wrongly-spelt word in this article, without it ever once occurring to him/her that it should be 'e', not 'a'. And then wonder how the sub-ed could have let the article through. And then despair (again) at the state of the Indian print media, if even the ET is getting as sloppy as this.
Q: What's is the perfect name for an Indian brand of strap-ons**?
(With many thanks to an unnamed friend of Aishwarya's, who also loves puns (A, not the friend. I don't know who the friend is. Keep up already))
* It's a silent 'f'. What? Bas bahut hua. Too much discrimination for too much time. We demand equal rights for all letters.
** Yes, yes, we are not a family blog. Like I said, keep up already.
and here we stand.
But what if we had
and turned again?
Would we have solved the labyrinth,
or would we simply have
out the same?
Labels: Thoughts in Flow
Anonyblogger Recognition Paranoia
The assumption by a blogger/blogreader that an anonymous blogger they've come across is really someone with whom they have/had some offline contact/connection.
ARP can be triggered by a wide variety of factors, including but not limited to - the (written) linguistic traits and idiosyncracies of the blogger, the topics the blogger tends to write on, the facets of the blogger's offline persona that they choose to (seemingly) reveal, clues about the blogger's life that other bloggers may refer to, and the number of common friends that they both seem to know.
ARP is usually encouraged by the rationalisation that it is highly probable that the subject must know the blogger, given -
a) The relatively low percentage of bloggers amongst total internet users
b) The distinct social sub-type that almost all bloggers belong to, viz., the middle-class educated urbanite.
c) The number of people who the blogger cannot be, after eliminating bloggers who post under their real names
d) The number of literary-minded friends the individual has, who are likely to have blogs
e) The wide social circles they both seemed to have circulated in
When the subject knows or suspects that the blogger resides in the same city/town, ARP usually results in the subject making a greater effort to spend time with those friends that are considered possible identity-matches. The subject usually utilises this time to try and get to know more details about their friend's life, in order to match them to any details revealed by the blogger. A risk-taking subject may even raise the subject of blogs and blogging, in order to gauge the friend's reactions.
In early-stage ARP, subjects are known to re-read all of the blogger's posts. All subjects that have been studied say that they do this in order to gain a better understand of their 'friend' from their writings, as well as to try and see if the content of the posts appears differently, now that they can put a face and voice to the writing. However, under more in-depth questioning, some subjects have admitted that they largely do this to see if there is any reference to them in the posts, or to see if they can identify any other mutual friends that the blogger may have (supposedly) written about, so as to gather any 'interesting' bits of information about them, or the blogger's relationship with them.
When Chronic ARP (when the subject is fully convinced that they know the blogger) sets in, it results in a distinct change in the way an individual reacts to the blogger's posts, this change reflecting the offline relationship the subject (believes they) had with the blogger, viz, the subject becomes more appreciative/disdainful depending on how well they got/get along offline. It also results in attempts by the subject to indicate to the blogger that their identity is known, by 'hints' that refer to past shared incidents, or things the blogger has done.
In the case of widely read anonymous bloggers, ARP can morph into a group-experience phenomena, with the identity of the said blogger being the subject of a mass puzzle-solving exercise.
This can take the form of a coordinated approach, with the various bloggers taking turns to ask a series of wide-ranging questions that are designed to help fill in/eliminate as many aspects of the blogger's persona as possible, and which are raised in a tangential, off-the-cuff manner.
ARP can cause a subject to alienate their friends, as they seem 'too friendly' due to their constant questions and generally chatty behaviour (as they attempt to discover if the friend is the blogger in question).
Comments made by the subject where they indicate the supposed identity of the blogger, often only results in providing the blogger with much amusement and/or irritation, as well as confusing others who may be themselves (consider themselves) close to identifying the blogger
Additionally, if the group ARP tactic is not subtle enough, or is too prolonged, it runs the risk of causing the blogger to suffer from Identity Discovery Paranoia, which can cause the blogger to become even more discreet.
And after the lull
is fiercely torn away,
and decide it was but the wind
her body surfaces,
like a perverse aquatic phoenix.
Just some drifter, they shrug,
as she drifts by.
None of her neighbours were out yet. No matter, there was bound to be something interesting happening on the road below.
Aha. Like that little fellow sneaking up on those two girls...and was he holding something in his hand? Yes. A balloon? No, too small. A stone perhaps? But what was he going to do with....
oh! The silly goose! He gave her such a start, bursting that nasty little cracker so unexpectedly. No wonder the girls were chasing him; she would too if she could. Not that they stood a chance of catching him - he was always too quick. No wonder they called him Jaldiram Haldiram.
Although she really did think that was such a silly name. Always made her picture one of those snack packets running about everywhere, prancing about in shops, hiding from the grasping hands of a baniya desperate to get some money from the fat man at the counter who was drooling over the thought of gorging on what was inside them. Poor little packets. Plucked, torn apart, their innards devoured, with fingers poking into all the little crevices looking for the last morsel, and then being discarded dismissively, their shiny skins soon to be grimed over by all the effluents of the world.
Besides, it wasn't as if it was a proper nickname. And he had such a nice name too - Vikram...Vikrama...Vikramaditya. Such a solid name. You could hear the echo of centuries each time you said it. Vikramaditya. Yes, such a good, old name.
And so rare. You didn't hear too many of them anymore - names her generation had been proud to carry, because they meant something, had some history to them. Kaikhusroo, Jalaluddin, Banoo, Meherbanoo, Gerson, Marilyn, Amreesh, Pradipto. Names that had a personal history for her, all old friends and family. All gone, of course. And what was she left with? These newfangled foreign words, with as few syllables as possible. Kaia. Gaia. Laia. Miel. All Greek and Hebrew and Latin and whoknowswhich other languages. No wonder she just kept calling them baby. They probably thought she was senile. Let them - she still knew what was what.
Ah, there was that nice upstairs Mr. Narayanan (with his cup of coffee, of course). What was he pointing at though, and why was he gesturing and grinning so much? Aha! That boy was right below her window, and the girls were headed in the other direction. Well. He might have a nice name, but he had startled her.
She leaned out a little, and carefully poured half her cup of tea over him.
And as he yelped and jumped up, only to be spotted and chased again by the girls, she settled back, acknowledging Mr. Narayanan's exaggerated claps with a modest smile.
It looked like it would be a pleasant evening after all.
The epiphany suggested,
There are two ways to write well.
You can invest all you are into your writing, put in all the thoughts and beliefs and hopes and dreams and prejudices and assumptions and emotions that you possess, and imbue the story (and the characters) with your presence. Tell the story as seen through your eyes, felt through your skin, remembered through your memories, thought by your mind.
You can write the story as it would appear if you were reading it. Be outside it, observing, narrating, analysing. Write what is, not what you think it to be**.
And that's it.
That's all there is. As long as one can remember that, and choose one over the other, all the conflicts and struggles in how to write can just....melt away.
And it reminds me of one of my favourite quotes about literature (and writing) - C.S. Lewis, explaining his motive for writing, saying, "I wrote the books I wanted to read" (many thanks for the quote, Space!). Which struck me then, and still strikes me, as one of the most profoundly simple ways to approach any form of writing.
You should write something you would like to pick up repeatedly, and which would have the power to surprise and thrill you even after many re-readings. And, extending that theory, you should write something that readers of the category you're writing in, would like to read.
Yes, there is also a need for those who show us what we should/could be reading, instead of what we're used to. People and books who defy us to step outside our comfort zone and see what else there could be, and who end up being labelled as 'genre-defying'. But there are far too few of those, and too many pretenders to the label.
....of course, all this doesn't really matter if you have no idea of what you want to write.