“Can you love someone you’ve never met?” asked a poster of ‘You’ve Got Mail’ back in 1999. As an almost-21-year-old, I wondered. Here’s Dipali, frequent commenter on this blog, and someone I have shared joys and sorrows with, making not meeting in person irrelevant.
I must give credit, or blame, for my involvement with the blogiverse (as you choose, gentle reader) to my older son, who has been a wonderful teacher to a fairly ignorant pupil. He has been responsible for bringing to my life Sufi music, the Kabir Project, many books and many authors, as well as the countless experiences a child brings to his parents’ lives. He also first introduced me to Salam Pax’s blog, way back in 2002, which I would read sporadically. He subsequently started a blog of his own, (sadly, mostly defunct now) in 2004. Which is where it all began, for me……
I’d read what he wrote, and then ventured onto his blogroll, to friends of his whom I knew. When we moved to Kolkata in 2006, I found myself fascinated by the few blogs I read. I took the plunge into what was, for me, virtually uncharted territory. The names of various commenters and bloggers were fascinating- Chapati Mystery, Lalita Larking (who lived in Kolkata and became my first real friend from the virtual world. Her early death was devastating to me, and to many others of her legion of loyal readers), Within and Without, Known Turf, Jabberwock, Three Drinks Ahead, and The Mad Momma.
Not only were the antics of the Mad Momma,the Other Adult, and the Brat, great fun to read, she also had a fabulous blogroll. Once again, it was the names on that list- Banno, Dala, Orange Jammies, Sunny Days, Karmic Kids, Falstaff, kbpm, and many many more, that were truly fascinating. I remember myself commenting, with great daring, on The Mad Momma’s blog, and OJ’s blog, and others, and being responded to with warmth. The personal interaction, the tossing around of ideas, the painful honesty with which some bloggers shared details of their lives, the sheer poetry of some bloggers (OJ and space bar in particular, at that point), and, overall, the abiding sense of community, that we were a bunch of like-minded people who could interact, regardless of the barriers of time and space……..I was hooked!
For a couple of years I found myself commenting frequently on a few blogs, and, over time, being encouraged to start a blog of my own. I wrote, on invitation, a guest post on Karmic Kids. I wasn’t booed off the ‘net! I commented some more. I finally started my own blog in August 2007. Over the years I have met many of the bloggers whom I have read, have formed close personal friendships with some of them, shared personal experiences (both joyous and painful) with the blogosphere, and have received great support from my readers during difficult times. There was tremendous solidarity when the Indian Homemaker lost her teenage daughter to dengue in 2010, and her own remarkable strength and wisdom during this difficult time was a great solace to many of us who grieved with her.
Blogging has given me wonderful friends across the globe, as well as in India. It has truly been enriching beyond belief. For people like me who are transferred every few years, blogger friends provide constant sustenance, as long as technology doesn’t let you down! There are some bloggers, like OJ, Mom Gone Mad, and Maid in Malaysia, whom I haven’t met yet, but I hope I will, someday. Some of the bloggers I know are now published authors, (Parul, Kiran, Yashodhara, you may take a bow) and I take great pride in their work, simply because I know them! Some published authors became personal friends after we interacted on the ‘net.
Once again, I need to thank The Mad Momma for writing about Gouri Dange’s book, 3, Zakia Mansion on her blog, which I appreciated and reviewed. Gouri and I have met, and seem to share many life events and interests, including the songs of K L Saigal, Sant Kabir’s poetry, and Hindustani vocal classical music. The commenter who calls herself Peccavi was instrumental in my getting to know the Akatha Kahani team, which lead to two magical evenings at my home last January. The real life friendship with so many wonderful people has been simply amazing. We’ve also had some great blog meets in various cities, all memorable occasions, hard to explain to those outside this magic circle!
The criss-crossings and the links are now not always easy to trace. It has been a fascinating and enriching journey, on an ever-expanding train which has many passengers, and no limit to the number of bogeys/space available. Some do get off, caught up in other aspects of life. New ones come aboard, interactions happen, and this fascinating, magical, enriching journey continues.