Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The 'GhoseSpot' turns 100


It’s the first ‘century’ of my life. This is the 100th post on “The GhoseSpot”. I never fail to mention to those who enquire – with a degree of immodesty that comes naturally to me – that, I have been blogging since 2001. Much before most people had heard of the term.

Bloggers' Block and Testosterone Bosses

100 posts in 9 years is not exactly a Tendulkar-esque feat, I admit. (actually, the count is 102; I took off 2 pieces I had written on Kashmir – at the prodding of the wife - because they were attracting too much attention from, shall we say, – slightly disconcerting quarters of the world ). But then, I had gone into a lengthy sabbatical in between. Co-incidentally – that was also the period when I was working with the media. I have often wondered what could have been the cause of my “bloggers’ block” during those years - but haven’t been able to arrive at a clear answer. Not sure – if I was overly self-conscious being surrounded by journalists and professional writers or was it simply a passing phase. Probably it had something to do – as is very often the case – with my underlying emotional state, arising from the deep professional discontent I was nurturing at that time in a highly politicized and toxic work place (presided over by a testosterone driven boss).


Why do I blog ?

At some point - every blogger comes face-to-face with the inevitable question - “Why do I blog ?” ( I think this comes more naturally than – what should have been asked in the first place – “Why should I blog ?” ). Exactly 2 years ago, I had put up a beautifully written piece from the New York Times: Exposed – Why People Blog ( Click here to read), which says it all and more.

I am reminded of an anecdote narrated by the celebrated Bengali author – Samaresh Basu once on TV. He was asked by Leela Roy ( the Indianised-American wife of Annada Shankar Roy) - “Samaresh, tumi keno lekho (why do you write) ?” He replied, “Ami likhi manush-ke jaanbar janye” (through my writings, I come to understand people)”. To which Leela Roy asked him in turn – “Keno, nijeke jaanbar janye noy” ( Why, don’t you write to know yourself ? ). This is a conversation that still resonates with me.

The Ghoses of Kats

What I started in 2001 as a somewhat light hearted social diary of our hugely memorable days in Kathmandu ( I called it “The Ghoses of Kats” then ) has over time – become more of a personal journal. The style and tone of the writings have also evolved with age - I guess. Though I don’t often go back to reading the old posts – I am sure if I did they would trace - my own inner journey through – what has certainly been for me - a mellowing 40s.

Many friends who chance upon the Blog or stray into The GhoseSpot while trawling the net have remarked that, the earlier posts were much more carefree and spontaneous – with a pace and cadence of their own. They say, in contrast the later writings appear somewhat stilted and guarded – holding back more than they reveal. They also disapprove of my self-deprecating tone and the strenuous attempts at being unnecessarily risque. They are probably too polite and gentle to use words like “fake” or "affected" - but what they probably mean - in short - is that the pieces lack intimacy and, therefore, fail to connect. But again, that too can just be a reflection of my current existence – when the best that I can possibly do is drift with the tide.

There is no denying that all writers – bloggers included - have a narcissist under their skin. Otherwise, how can they be presumptuous enough to put their work up in the public domain – no matter how mediocre – thinking that it would be of interest to others. I too will be less than honest – if I were to say that I don’t derive my own little highs counting the number of hits the site gets. And, it does feel good every time someone takes note of a posting or acknowledge that they have been reading the blog – even if occasionally.


It's my trash

Sometimes critiques and criticisms can also flatter the ego. One regular follower (whose comments I routinely expunge) keeps urging me to take on an editor - assiduously listing all the syntax and spelling errors on every post. Once at the IIC Bar, a journalist friend of mine charged me point blank on my face – in her lolly Mallu accent – "why do you inflict such terrible stuff on your unsuspecting friends ? Please kill it (the blog) immediately - as soon as you can get to a computer", she admonished. I retorted in the same vein (emboldened – no doubt - by the alcohol) – “I write not for others but more myself”. Later, after many days, I was mightily tickled – when she mentioned one of my posts in passing – revealing that she had not stopped reading the blog after all - despite the revulsion she felt towards my literary atrocities. That's what good friends are for !!

Others have complained that, my posts are too long and make tedious reading. I have thought of reducing the lengths –if only in the interest of my own time. Very often – I don’t get to write for days – when thoughts just come and go. Shorter pieces would allow me to post more regularly – but I am not sure if that would be more soul satisfying.

The Blog is not just a 'release' for me - as some friendly readers tend to think. It's become a little retreat where I can run to whenever I need a break. Not a room where I shut myself out from the world, but a room where I can sit and enjoy a drink with close friends or simply put my feet up and gaze at the sky. The Blog has helped me retain my sanity through some very trying periods of mid-life and mid-career crises - holding the body and soul together (in more senses than one !!).

At times, I do wish that I could get more deeply personal in the blog. But, there’s only thus far one can go in public view living within the confines of work and family. And, who knows – may be my story is buried under this heap of 100 – only to be unearthed at a moment when I am least expecting it to show up.

So till then, I shall continue to write for myself – in the hope that, I will find my own voice someday. So what if it’s trash. It is my trash.