It was a wintry Boston day. The kind where the sky is azure, and the cold bites into your marrow decisively. Strewn around me were the material possessions collected over 5 years of living in the country, waiting to be crammed into two mid-sized suitcases and flown home with their owner.
“What is a blog,” I had asked him, and wondered if I could write one. The concept of readership didn’t cross my mind. Bored with the task at hand, I lined up my precious babies and took a picture. “Shoes Blues”, I labeled the post, and whined about whether they would all fit into my luggage and new existence.
I shut the browser, and shortly afterward, my bags, and watched as Logan airport dropped away. I thought leaving America would change my life. The seed I had planted on the internet smirked at my naiveté and bided its time.
January 26, 2006, started a chain of events that I did not have the foresight or imagination to envisage. My quiet entrance into the world of personal blogs was encouraged by exactly two readers, the love of whom I will always be grateful for. Unexpectedly, the circle grew. Warm responses, delightful banter, and amusing comments from complete strangers ensued. My Yahoo! 360 circle of friends expanded into a co-ed dorm, where we all hung out, displaying our words and quirks in a manner so genuine and honest, it was impossible not to be touched.
Those first years were the most prolific. I blogged for the sheer joy of sculpting sentences, creating fiction, and recording life’s quirks. Quite simply, because I could. Mostly flippant even when I wrote from the heart, I took neither my writing nor its platform seriously (and still refuse to do so with the former). As I navigated the last years of my 20s, my little corner on the WWW became a repository of angst-ridden poetry, nuggets of fiction, and first date howlers. And looking back, how my connections sustained me! Aunty G, Manju, Mina, The Mad Momma, Sabiha, Dezann, Suzy Tay, Lonely Prince, Naoman, Sa’ad, Rajashree, Shail, Summer, Mariah, Anamika, Pallavi, Rajni, Anindita, Twisted DNA, Revathi, Amrita—bloggers, readers, compatriots all, their emails, comments and calls flew in from all over the globe, making me laugh with the race to comment first (FTC!! we’d shout), partake of their intriguing worlds, and thank the powers that be for this new dimension.
And yet, I took a break. Rather, was forced to by technical difficulties, as the 360 platform creaked to a painful end. Without their familiar home, the words went on vacation. (Okay, as did I—but they went first!)
Turns out it was only a quick trip around the corner, because six weeks later, this post went up, and I set about making this new home cozy and inviting. The neighborhood was more upscale and the living space plusher, but it lacked the casual, popping-in-and-out-to-ask-for-sugar atmosphere. But then you all arrived. So many quietly read and departed, making no announcement of their existence. (It’s still not too late, you know!) But some others, they said hello, and to them I am thankful. And to the odd troll who trawls through my posts, you do wonders for my hit rate.
Personally, my blogging journey has seen me through a long-term relationship, its gut-wrenching, soul-sapping end, the hilarity of the dating dance of my later 20s, my first meeting with the man you all know as the Boy, along with our courtship, engagement, and wedding, and seven years later, I stand before you as someone this busybee from Bombay least expected to morph into: a contented married woman in suburban California.
This virtual platform—not a jot less real than flesh and blood—watched me move continents (twice), re-embrace my city, only to see it receding yet again from an airplane 2 years ago. Through jobs and businesses, and changes in career and pace, Wisdom Wears Neon Pyjamas stood patiently on hand, as I force-fed it, ignored it, and worst of all, was indifferent to it, while life led me on a merry dance, and I, with my sixteen left feet, bumbled along.
I found myself eating gouda toasties and chattering with my mouth full (sorry, Nana!) to someone I met 7 minutes ago. I found myself finally putting into words the feminist ideas I witnessed growing up. I found myself published elsewhere, thanks to this unique calling card. I found myself face-to-face with the people behind monikers and pseudonyms to brainstorm how we could help 26/11 victims. I found myself refusing money to shove paid links down your throats. I found myself walking into a stranger’s home to check on her after reading just one heartbreaking post, and her wedding present to me affirmed my faith in my actions. I found myself on the receiving end of genuine affection. I found myself cheering on a queer woman I had never met in her struggle for acceptance. Truth be told, there were simply no strangers anymore. Blogging made me reach out, look within, and wear my heart on my sleeve. It brought me dear friends, some admirers (!), and enhanced my life in surprising ways, but the best gift of all was that it brought me home to me.
Did it really happen?
Make no mistake: I still write for myself. Very rare are the days when I give a thought to responses before hitting ‘publish’. But now I see blogging as something more than strung words, and would be foolish not to acknowledge the connections it has enriched me with.
To honor this gift, I invited 7 fellow travelers, all key to my online trail at some point, to share their thoughts on what this platform—and our connection— means to them. Over the next week and a half, these guest posts will appear exactly as they were sent to me, so you can witness how this phenomenon affected us all. The writers are human beings who amaze me, whose generosity with time and affection gives me hope for the world, and whose dexterity with the written word is a humbling experience. These are women of strength, of opinions and integrity, true citizens of this planet, and each one has warmed my spirit with her unique charm. I thank them for the pleasure of their company, along with the many unnamed others along the way, and from the bottom of my heart, I thank you, dear reader.
Kisses on the wind
This post would be incomplete without a shout-out to my most regular commenters:
Aunty G: You’re one in several billion, and your limericks make my day (and everybody else’s!)
Dipali: Big hug! It gladdens my heart that you’re somewhere out there.
Alice: I’m happy you find wonder in my land. (Couldn’t resist! )
Sukanya: Being sincere and generous in equal parts with your compliments is a truly special gift and you have it.
R: In your comments, I see my younger self, and it’s great to relate.
Like all paths, this too shall end someday. Maybe it will be this year, or some years hence. Regardless, in a life littered with unknowns, where pain and poetry blend, I am thrilled—and fortunate—and (insert your own word, I’m too busy mopping the weepies) that I went on this incredible journey of a lifetime.
Group hug, NOW!