Serious short stories and intellectual book tags might give us the pretense of respectability, but one should never forget one’s humble beginnings. What is the blog’s real USP?, we asked ourselves, and on not finding an answer, in sheer desperation, asked Ajmeri Baba, while he was in town to solve the problems of the world. And his voice echoed through the corridors of the empty Hyatt Regency ballroom with the resounding answer — ‘Bachcha, it is a very special brand of mindless nonsense mixed with pseudo-seriousness. That is what you do best.‘ Humbled by his gyaan and out of gratitude for the man, we promptly suggested a tagline for his business — ‘Aaj-meri baba, kal teri baba‘. Alas, he failed to see the brilliance of it. Hmpfh. Oh well.
When I started my blog, I imagined it to be a place where I could be myself without letting the role I was playing, influence it. No compulsions to be the exasperating daughter, annoying sister, curious friend or nosy neighbor. Just my thoughts, expressed my way.
I thought a blog resolved the dichotomies we face as individuals. It blurred the lines between what we revealed to people and what we hid from them. We no longer separated our public and private lives. A blog overlapped these spaces to an extent. If Rao sir from class VI were present here, he would have interjected with — ‘Waitt, aii weel yekshplain with pickchar. You seeee, the red circle is public space. Blue circle, private space. And intersection set — purple flower petal shape, that is a blog.‘ Yes, we had a lot of bahaaron phool barsaao-ing in classes VI and VII. But you get the drift.
But now, as time has passed, I am more aware of the fact that I don’t always shoot my mouth off and say things like I was sharing a private thought with myself. When someone pisses me off, I don’t tell them how I’d like to boil them in oil, hang them upside down from a tree, paint them like a voodoo doll and do an African victory dance chanting —? jumbaaye agumbaye yaa aaygo aaygo aaygo. I visualize it in Eastmancolor, with twenty-four track stereophonic sound. I imagine being dressed like Sridevi in a jungle outfit, with a hibiscus phulwa coyly tucked in my hair, fluttering my two-inch long eyelashes while I do the dance. But, but, but — I don’t express it. Instead, I find myself thinking before I write, because I know I am being read and watched. So the dichotomy, albeit a different kind, is still in place.
In that sense, a blog is not just an online journal. As bloggers, we don’t simply write. We write for an audience. It doesn’t mean we necessarily pander to them. Well, sometimes we do, but that’s just because we luuuve you, don’t we precious? But we write, hoping to be read and knowing we are being read. Every blogger, no matter what they say, started their site because they want other people to read what they have to say. So, say what you will about ‘self-expression‘ and give the highfalutin spiel about how ‘I write only to give vent to my own feelings, I don’t care if anyone reads it‘ but at the end of the day, a blog is not just about introspection, it is also about performance. It isn’t navel-gazing alone, it is as much navel-baring.
So my conclusion — All bloggers hope to be Shilpa Shetty one day. Wait, I will yekshplain. This time, sadly, not with pickchar. You see, bloggers are like the sidey extras dancing behind the heroine in a Hindi film. The heroines, of course, are the A-list bloggers, while the sideys behind them are the ones hoping to make it big someday. So that brigade of tummy-baring starlets dancing behind the heroine — that’s us. Yes, this includes you men too. You wear those clingy transparent black shirts and dance in studio rain, so you’re just as bad. We’re all in the same boat. A bunch of bloggers, diligently baring our navels and souls, each hoping to get noticed, hoping to be the next Shilpa Shetty. Aw c’mon lets face it, when it comes to navel-baring, there’s not many who do a better job than her. Wot say?