Friday, August 26, 2005

Rough-hew them how we will ...

"And then my heart with pleasure fills / And dances with the daffodils!"

The Old Sheep of the Lakes has written SOME good stuff, but this was definitely not it. Trite, turgid, unimaginative.
Hence appropriate for the subject matter here, which is (mostly) a Certain Publication that has been described as TOI-late Paper.

Gather round, boys and girls, and let me tell you a pointless little story. Which is very appropriate, because it's all about a bunch of
clueless little people.
Or at least one clueless little person.

I ask you - why would any journo do a general story on blogging now? Why, two months after Nilanjana Roy's piece in The Telegraph on Calcutta bloggers (which SHE said was 'hurriedly done') would somebody do a story on " aaah .. hrrrmm .. well, just bloggers, you know. In Calcutta"? Why would you cold-call a blogger and ask for his / her VIEWS on blogging?
What the f**k does anybody care about my views anyway, unless I can express them in writing and make them interesting? Why in fifteen different kinds of fornication would you talk to me about bloggers, without reading their blogs?!

In all fairness, he was a sweet kid. Sounded about eighteen (i.e. a couple of years older than The Duck), faintly apprehensive, a little unsure. My instinctive reaction was to say "No, thank you" and hang up but then he mentioned that he had been referred to me by a friend (Pandit-jee, actually). Noblesse oblige. I held my fire and played the (long-suffering) perfect gentleman to the hilt.

What topics do you write on?
Ummm ... nothing in particular.

So do you generally write about social issues?
Not quite (as Goldie Hawn memorably said in Protocol when the awld bitch knocked on the loo door and asked if she was coming)

No, hardly ever.

So ... what do you write about? (Aaarrgghh .. get ON with it, infant!)
This and that, whatever comes to mind. Very often, a post on somebody else's blog inspires a response.
(Mental note - this question might come up again in the future, so I should work on some posts about (a) kinky sex (b) how to make money quickly ... yes, Mark's Fender and "the chicks for free" (c) decay in the social fabric (d) something involving Alicia Silverstone, a feather and a half-pound of melted chocolate)

The questions were a trifle halting, so I mentioned the bloggers' meet last Sunday. I slightly inflated the attendance figure from nine. Lo and behold, today he writes that "only 10 or 12 people turned up". As Kamu Mukherjee said in Shona'r Kella, "Take Indian porridge!"

Poor chap. He's probably been told that blogs are "cool" now. He had 10 column-inches to fill in 4 hours. Perhaps he doesn't have a Net connection, just a phone. He finds some leads, calls up some people and voila, he has a story on blogs. Good work, kid.

I only wish he'd write in English instead of translating from Bangla. This would rule out solecisms like "writes in the name of", obviously a literal take on "omuk naame lekhe". 'Goes by the name'? 'Uses the pseudonym'? Even 'writes as'? Nope, those wouldn't connect to his readership.

I really should shut up about TOI-late English. I was once disarmingly frank with one of their queen bees. My view was that if they can't find reporters who can write English, they should at least recruit some literate sub-editors instead of leaving the job to satta* pencillers. They've had a ban on me ever since.
A trifle ironic, then, that this young man now seeks my views; my request for anonymity should reduce the number of cuts in his copy.

And now, not only do I waste my time reading what he wrote, I waste more time writing about his writing. So who's the stoopid one here?
Coffee, I need lots of coffee.

* - satta is the numbers racket.


nothing said...

errr..something tells me you will have rather strange visitore to your blog who come a-looking for alicia silverstone, chocolate.. ooh! the possibilites are too mind-boggling

sv3 said...

Rememebr at the blogmeet, i told you of my pal who was called a girl in one of those notorious stories on blogs.

Shocking lack of awareness. Reflects the hypocrisy present in the generations above mine - most of them think they know about everything including blogs.Which explains why its a "story" on blogs. Most of it is pure fiction.

IdeaSmith said...

Ah...don't you just hate that question "what do you write about?" Why must a blog be about one topic? That's not how life is...

thorswheels said...

Engaging interview though. Tough questions. Mark my words, the kid will grow up to become a Karan Thapar! He has it - the insistence, the perseverance, et all!

Rimi said...

could you maybe point the article out to us? a url in an email (if you don't wan to put the link on your blog), a forwarded article--anything would do! i'd LUURVE to read what this fellow wrote. dying of anticipation, almost... *smirks nastily*

Webmiztris said...

*patiently awaiting Alicia Silverstone/chocolate/feather post*

Bonatellis said...

can the link for the article be shared? if they have a web version, of course ...

Plumpernickel said...

I guess TOIs discovered blogging because HT has discovered female bloggers. So you were responsible for the inflated figues. Heehee.

Anonymous said...

A few days back Cal Times talked about the actoress who was 'recuperating from her recent fatal illness'.
Lowest - tender journalism?

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

*sigh* Here goes ...

Orc - traffic may increase? Check the Joel Achenbach piece in The Washington Post (link from indianwriting)

Kanti (or are you Shourabh? Kindly clarify) - I AM in one the generations above your's! Does that condemn ALL my utterances?

I-Smith - then why do you have five blogs? Tough to keep track, too.

Fool - you forgot the overweaning ego and the much-publicised shirts from Turnbull and Asser

Rimi, Bonatellis - Cal Times, Thursday I think. They don't have a Net version as far as I know - small mercies!

Dawn - sure, as soon as I pass the fitness test; my wife says I should get my BP checked before I get too ambitious!

P'Nickel - sadly enough, the first inflated figure I'm responsible for is my own.

Kaushik - welcome aboard. Now to start your own blog.


s said...

i read the article. the best thing was the last line. Which was on the lines of ' some cal celebs are aware of blogging but they dont indulge in it because it is a waste of time.'
which i thought was really cool.

kanti, calling your friend a girl doesnt betray a shocking lack of awareness. its a simple, very inconsequential error. that article was written, in a hurry, by someone who knows everything there is to know about blogging. maybe your friend just writes like a girl?

Teleute said...

hah! you WISH they didn't have an e-edition! read this.
and WHAT an ill-written article!

Rimi said...

i have a question. thank you very much for linking me, but why does it have the name it does? and i turn 21 this year-- moteo aami kochi noi!!! *lower lip trembles, eyes brighten, cheeks turns pink*

J. Alfred Prufrock said...

Samit - I see from your blog you did an Andy Roberts on us (cf: Amar Akbar Anthony - before your time!)

Teleute - look up 'overshare' at Your info is not 'personal', but the article is a little like those warts!

Rimi - I seem to recall that one of your earlier posts was about some power outage. Besides, you stopped posting for some time. Hence the label. As for kochi, you'll agree in about 20 years.


Nila said...

Nomoshkar Kanti; yup, I know your friend was identified as a girl, by me, and yes, it was a stupid mistake to make. How did it happen? The usual: two distinct paras about two completely diff blogs were compacted, with force, and with results I should've checked on far more thoroughly before the story appeared on page.
But that was a story I did with some ambiguity. I loved doing it, because it was about Kolkata bloggers; and Bangalore, Bombay and Delhi tend to hog the attention. I hated doing it, because it was done in a huge rush, and because it had to be basic.
It was written as a very rough guide, with the hope that some interested readers might actually go visit the blogs mentioned, browse the sidebars, and find a whole new world of blogs opening up for them. For what it's worth, while it followed the a-b-c what-eej-a-blog format, I don't think it was either uninformed or patronising. It was just a story, done on demand, in a rush, for a newspaper I'm kind of fond of, and I hope it got at least a few readers interested in the blogworld.
You want to read that story, please, try and see it as an overview for readers who're outside the blog world--not as a definitive guide for bloggers. About the mistakes, as far as I can tell, there were two: one switched your pal's gender, and while I apologise for that, it wasn't intentional at all. I know he's a guy. He knows he's a guy. If we all get worked up enough about it, every TT reader will eventually know he's a guy.
The other concerned a missing space in the Shabuj Neer url, which led someone suitably selfrighteous to proclaim that we had done so little in the way of homework that we had even got the url wrong. Hmmm. The url works; the space shouldn't be there, but that is printer's devil, not my fault. Unless you're HTMLing and adding your own links on a web page, this will sometimes happen in print; I don't have final call, unfortunately, on the pages.
Ease up a bit. No one at the Telegraph meant to switch your friend's gender. I certainly didn't. But the original list of Cal blogs I shortlisted for the story ran to over 300. No one else on that story was misidentified or misquoted. It was a bad error, an embarrassing one, but it happened because two blogs, both run by schoolgoing bloggers, were conflated.
As for the rest of the story, well... it got me browsing Cal blogs in an organised way both before and after I wrote the piece, and I loved the different voices coming off the blogs. That was the whole point of the story, the variety and breadth of voices coming out of Calcutta, and in its limited, basic way, I think I made the point more than adequately.
Something Jai (Jabberwock), and Peter (Zigackly) said recently made me think, however: all of us automatically lower the bar when we write about blogs for a mainstream audience. We have to start by defining a blog, offering an overview of Indian blogging, and it's usually a taxonomic story that's required, rather than an analytic one. Why do you think that is? Just curious. Would love reactions.