No, this post is not about cricket. It is instead about this blog turning six years old. It now needs to be enrolled in school, told to not talk too much, and needs to learn how to face the big bad world.
Many people have asked me how this blog started. No, actually not many have, but I like to say so just so that I can fall into more nostalgia. It was first year at NITK, and I was reading The Hindu in Tuhina’s room on a late Sunday afternoon, I think. There was an article about blogging in the supplement – remember this was 2005, people said ‘Wow’ if you said you wrote a blog. We thought it’d be a good idea to have one of those. I don’t know why it seemed like a good idea to do it together, but I’m glad we did. And here we are.
We’ve really come a long way since then. The folks who were the rebels of back then have sold out to the system now. Not us, mind you, I for one didn’t care enough to walk off the beaten path. I doubt I’d spare a glance today for those I considered my heroes and heroines back then – Shashi Tharoor for one, Arundati Roy for another. To use big words, I’d say both of us have found our own voice by now, sort of, and it’s not the crazy ranting voice that says “What’s wrong is the entire SYSTEM”, for everything from a stubbed toe to the 2G Scam, like we were afraid back then.
We’ve made our peace with the ‘System’, and those that exploited the ‘System’. The Mumbai train attacks turned me into a raging rightist, but it seems like I’ve made my peace with that as well, and I’ve read so much raging on the Internet since then that I seriously doubt any doomsday-prophecy sort of piece will ruffle me now, be it about the state of research or Reservations or anything. We now love the whole world and all its messed-up folk. And that does not necessarily mean we have to be nice to everyone.
One thing I’ve never brought up in all these years on the blog is about ‘Being a woman on the Internet’. Or simply, bringing attention to the fact that we are girls writing this blog. And I’m glad we had that unspoken, unwritten rule on during our most awkward years…. when I read the blogs of much-younger girls who haven’t been out here long enough, I feel a shudder for all that could have possibly gone wrong for me if I’d written like that. That’s not necessarily true for every girl on the blogosphere, but knowing me, I know things could go seriously wrong if I write like that. And why do I bring it up now? Because while I’m still school-going now, I don’t think I’m all that impressionable and vulnerable, and frankly it’s hard to harass someone via a blog now when there are so many other realtime webapps available for that. And um, we also have seen enough trolls that if we’re feeding one, it’s because we have too much time on our hands.
It would be easy for me to diss those little blogging girls for taking us back by 200 years, for using Blogger and WordPress like a matrimonial service and for doing the damsel-in-distress act and all that, but while I knew at the back of my head that dissing is not the right thing to do, this episode of 30 Rock puts it all in perspective for me. It’s not right to expect everyone with two X chromosomes to speak for all of womankind, and it is plain stupid to think every woman represents all women. And while doing so in real life is by itself idiotic, bringing those rules online is even worse. This whole ‘all of us gals should band together and stick up for each other’ thing is probably relevant maybe on a workshop floor, but not on the Internet, because women have been represented on the Net in real-world-esque proportions since about 2000. So I think it’s okay to hate some women bloggers just because they aren’t very nice people, and I think all those ‘A woman is a woman’s worst enemy’ or ‘You girls tear each other down’ sort of lines are unwarranted for.
[Aside: I’ve been quite taken in with Tina Fey for quite a while now, especially more so since her book, Bossypants came out, and the number of talk shows she was featured in just rose up exponentially. Read the book. She’s very funny. Overall, her writing feels very like Woody Allen… I was reminded of Without Feathers in a lot of places.]
I also realize I’ve put in a lot of Tambrahm-this and Tambrahm-that into this blog. Given that Tambrahmness is the current flavour of the season, what with all the Rage comics and all, and the Indian comedy scene I follow is being dominated by Tambrahms who very nicely appropriate every single thing that can be exploited for humour into ‘Tambrahm culture’, I declare I’m sick of it, and as a mark of protest, I renounce the self-identification and henceforth am just someone who speaks Tamil as badly as I speak Kannada, and who’s a Bangalorean. Because the next stage in every such cultification is going to be “You are not Tam enough” or something, and heck, I don’t want to be Tam if it means segregation of the Sathyabhama sort and general desponess that follows, or the total murder of the language or a choice between being stubborn about your community or totally rebelling… I prefer being a wannabe Kannadiga any day. And I thought of what if every community had their own Rage comic, and decided the idea of caste-based rage is sick unless you are raging against caste being relevant in anything…. so no more Brahm either, unless you mean Brahms the composer. I would say Bangalorean-GeneralMerit, but that doesn’t sound cool enough. So, to hell with it, I say.
I sometimes wonder how appropriate it is to put up so much of my life out online. What if I become famous one day… If I’m on any independent Bill-drafting committee, will stuff from here come to bite me in the back? Am I digging my own grave by giving out so many details that anyone can misuse? Or, going the other way, am I not using this space enough? When I go through rough patches in research, shouldn’t I try reaching out people who might be able to help me get out of my own way by using this platform? Shouldn’t I use this to enforce some accountability in myself, like in Julie and Julia?
I wonder what has come of six years of blogging. For me, yeah, surely, it’s been great venting out here, it’s been great organizing my thoughts, and getting to be less of a bad writer, and it’s surely been great making acquaintances with people who were somehow tricked into commenting here. When I went through a bit of a bad phase a few months back, I was really overwhelmed by the positivity people showered on me. And it sometimes gives me a high when I interview for a job and the interviewer tells me he (they have always been male except in two interviews and those two nice ladies didn’t give any indications of having read this space) enjoyed reading my blog. But what have I given back? I’ve not had memes to my name. I haven’t coined insulting terms for other people that have caught on greatly (though I suspect I’ve in my own modest way propagated the use of the term amit_123). I wonder sometimes why people read me if they aren’t some insane stalkers or schadenfreuders. No, really. I’m not fishing for compliments here, that thought really does cross my mind. Then I figure out it’s timepass, just like those close-to-150 feeds I subscribe to on Google Reader.
I ritually thank my readers and frequent commenters by name every year, but heck, none of you lurkers comment and I have no idea who all you no doubt wonderful people are. So yeah, if you’re reading this, especially if you’re reading this on a feed reader, I thank you for all your support. Even more so if you’ve been my big brother/big sister on cyberspace and watched out for me and informed me of my faux pas before it got really bad… you folks know who you are.
And just as ritually, I mention Goddess Saraswati. Education has been my priority for literally all my life now, and I pray learning new things and using the power of the written word always stay with me, and bring me my good fortune. And given that I would soon be for sure stepping into the real world, I pray this time to Goddess Lakshmi as well.
And…. all I have left to say is Thanks for Reading.