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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Looking back again...

My blog’s third birthday is coming up. As any avid reader will have noticed, I have been writing steadily if not too much, and keeping that up over three years without a break in the midst of a seven-days-a-week work schedule and trying to run a family well is not an easy thing to do, especially if you take writing seriously. Now it is once again time to take stock.

What am I getting out of it? To start with, this is not a money-making venture; nor is it designed to get some publicity – I don’t need it either for my pocket or for my ego, and in any case hardly any blog-writer earns much publicity unless he or she is famous in the real world already. My only purpose was to share my thoughts, experiences, feelings and opinions on a variety of subjects with like-minded people, mainly old boys and girls who have liked me all along, and their like-minded friends: a way of keeping in touch more meaningfully than you can do on so-called social networking sites on the Net. And what have I got so far?

Well, on the plus side, writing has always been a form of stress-busting meditation for me, a far better way of enjoying whatever leisure time I have than lots of things I see people doing, so in that regard my blog helps me to pursue my hobby happily. I have always been a diary writer (well, at least since I was seven), and now I write parts of my diary on the internet, that’s all. In addition, my blog has put me back in touch with quite a few old friends and ex-students whom I thought I had lost for good. It has won me a few genuine admirers too, both from those who already knew me (but apparently not well enough) and some complete strangers, whose occasional messages of appreciation, congratulation or thanks truly warm my heart. The best of these people keep sending me ideas about what they want me to write about next, and I am thankful to them. It is always a good feeling, too, to know that someone somewhere has been informed, encouraged or comforted by something that I had written.

On the flip side, this experience has taught me to grow a thick skin. The cyberworld, just like the real world, is filled with a lot of unpleasant people: those who have nothing to say, and lots of time to say it – those who are so much at a loose end and hate you so much that they would post abuse anonymously again and again, or assume silly pseudonyms and create temporary blogger profiles only for the strange pleasure of writing abuse, even though they know their comments will hardly ever be read (because I have said here before that I routinely delete comments from anonymous sources and from people with pseudonyms without opening them), leave alone being published. I have learnt to shrug at this phenomenon and carry on as if I haven’t noticed. After all, in this country you have to turn a blind eye to so many things day in, day out – like people peeing by the roadside! I have also learnt (or rather, re-learnt) that it is very hard to find out what people are really like until you criticize them; anybody sounds nice as long as you are praising him or her to high heavens…

But these are not the people who really irritate me. Those who do are the ones who just send in one-liners, like ‘Hi! Nice post…’ or ‘I don’t agree with you.’ Just that, and nothing else. What I would love is genuine debate, something I have again and again mentioned as ‘feast of reason and flow of soul’. A good debate is like a good game; if you play it in the right spirit, it leaves you with a good sweat, and feeling reinvigorated, no matter whether you have won or lost, and you shake hands with your opponent before parting, without hard feelings on either side. And maybe you are even grateful for having been taught something of value in the course of the interaction. Alas, rare is the comment-writer who either understands a debate in that spirit or is keen and able to participate in one. That is one thing I have decided to accept, instead of lamenting all the time, but it’s hard.

So I guess I shall keep on writing, but, as some well-meaning folks have repeatedly told me, I shall write more for my own sake than for anyone else. If some reader doesn’t like it, I humbly ask him or her to stay away; if someone does like something and tells me about it, I shall be grateful as ever.


krishanu said...

I cannot but admit that your capability to look at subjects objectively,and your own way of self-introspection remains intact: perhaps it is gaining strength every passing day. I am not aware of those who advised you to write only for 'yourself' and not for others, but I can certainly say that he or she is truly well meaning, and is as big an admirer of your writing as I am. Your blog is read only by those people who have a real interest in the subjects on which you write, and I daresay, the same readers have spread the message to other like-minded people( or at least i hope so). That may be one of the reasons why so many strangers have read your articles, enjoyed them, thought about them, and might also have been benefited in some way or the other. It is true that a vast majority of readers have stumbled upon your blog accidentally, and have been consistently following it.I can see a huge number of visitors, more than 27,700, have already been at this blog, and I can assume that they have kept coming back.
You have wondered,"What am I getting out of it (by maintaining the blog)"? I wonder how many of my fellow readers of the blog ask this question to themselves, myself included. All I can say is that, why worry about this issue in the first place? That this blog is witnessing it's 3rd birthday is proof enough that it has considerable value to it's readers.
Therefore, Sir, just keep writing, and making your blog a worthy place to visit. And, as for the critics and the folks who answer in 'one-liners', let them be: probably they help improve your own writing capabilities. Besides, no one remembers the critics and the cynics anyway: if they smell fresh flowers, they start inquiring about funerals.
Krishanu Chatterjee

Shilpi said...

Suvro da,
Yesterday I was going through some of your old blogposts, and re-read the oldest one (but I seem to have missed the dates on all of them)...I read this latest one in the morning, and had been in two minds about commenting. I knew I would comment - I just wasn't sure what I would write.

A part of me is absolutely glad that you started a blog, and I'm reminded of the time that I located it on the net. There is a part though which sulks and another part which cannot help but feel rather doleful - but so be it. At least those who are interested - and truly interested - get to read some of your writings for now.

And of course nobody can write the way you do if you weren't doing it for yourself - yet sometimes I wonder, because many of your essays are much like your old letters...so I daresay that you write for others as much as you write for yourself - at least insofar as the things you wish to share.

It would be good indeed if there were some sensible and invigorating debates (and there should be) on your blog but it's a very hard thing to come by these days...

I'd better end my musings for now. Best wishes of course. And here's to many, many more essays by you.
Take care.

Subhasis Graham Mukherjee said...

Excellent blog and continuing flow of good stuff.. please keep it going.

so you think that you write for yourself. Such is the stealth power and magic of this medium .. you don't realize how many benefit from your writings and discussion threads, through the various challenges in everyday life.

Jai ho....

Suvro Chatterjee said...

So kind of you, Subhashis: thanks very much indeed. Of course I "don't realize" how many people draw some benefit from my blog... how could I, unless they tell me? That is precisely what I lament every now and then!

Subhasis Graham Mukherjee said...

Belated Happy Father's Day Suvro and all fathers in Suvro's blogsphere -

a must read on this occasion -

Obama: 'I have been an imperfect father'
The commander in chief reflects on what good parenting means to him


quoting a bit -

We need to realize that we are our children’s first and best teachers. When we are selfish or inconsiderate, when we mistreat our wives or girlfriends, when we cut corners or fail to control our tempers, our children learn from that — and it’s no surprise when we see those behaviors in our schools or on our streets.

But it also works the other way around. When we work hard, treat others with respect, spend within our means, and contribute to our communities, those are the lessons our children learn. And that is what so many fathers are doing every day — coaching soccer and Little League, going to those school assemblies and parent-teacher conferences, scrimping and saving and working that extra shift so their kids can go to college. They are fulfilling their most fundamental duty as fathers: to show their children, by example, the kind of people they want them to become.

Anonymous said...

An insightful and courageous reflection, Suvro. Takes a brave soul to open up about their thoughts, feelings, opinions to a wide and often unknown audience over the net. Glad to know you've found it therapeutic, regardless of the odd foul mouthed comment in between.

Your reflections are interesting, thought provoking, invaluable – whether written for yourself or others….Many happy returns on the blogs b-day…..Best wishes…..Bev.

Soumallya Chattopadhyay said...

I cannot say about others.....but in my opinion,your blog is simply wonderful.
Just as I spend my leisure hours playing my guitar or reading books,likewise I keep a separate span of time for your blog.
The blogs have been one of the prime scource for my knowledge(apart from the books),as well as experience....(everybody says that experience can only be gained from practical world)but I cannot help myself to tell you that the blogs,the topics......whatever you write;makes me think about all those aspects.
As you clear my doubts,I become more able to delve deeper into the actual meaning of the blog that you have written;I also try to figure out your motive behind writing that particular subject.It has been a very good initiative on your part to write such informative,intersting,and humourous blogs.The second blog of your's "Wanton whimsy"is a perfect blend of humour and criticism of certain human nature.
On conclusion,I must say that you have very rightly turned a blind eye towards the people who have no other time but just to abuse you.
Hadn't yoy taught us that"Virtue cannot live out of the teeth of emulation"?Those mindless people can only envy others.So think not of them at all.
Lastly,I would like to tell you that Anne Frank too did not write her diary for publicity.Neither had she thought that her diary would be published.But she only shared her thoughts with her friend-Kitty.
Similarly,as you write not for sheer publicity,but to keep in touch with your ex-students as well as to share your thoughts with others(which is a much nobler cause);it is greatly admirable.Moreover,some of my likeminded fellow friends still tell me about their benefit on reading this blog.
So it is my earnest request that please do not put an end to this blog.Keep on writing......HAPPY BLOGGING!
Many happy returns of your blogs B-day.
With regards,
Soumallya Chattopadhyay

Suvro Chatterjee said...

So kind of you, Soumallya. Believe me, one comment like that compensates for a hundred meaningless and abusive ones from a lot of riff-raff. It is readers like you who keep me going.

Chayanika Biswas said...

Dear Suvroda,

I am not one of your students and have never met you. I was introduced to this blog by a friend a year and a half ago. The blog was an eye opener for me. The way I felt about many issues changed because of your writing. There was something unique about your blog. Too often bloggers get emotional and loose the sense of balance that is so important to justify their emotional reaction to events. Equally common are blogs where you would find endless logical analyses, facts and figures but the human element is absent. Suvro da, the way you combine sensitivity and rationality in discussing some of the most difficult issues is simply brilliant. Your sharp intellect doesn't come in the way of your deep humanism.

The range of emotions that I have gone through while reading your posts is quite amazing. I have felt disillusionment, wonder, anger, sadness, disbelief, respect and I confess at times love,attraction and the associated guilt.

Thank you for enriching us so much and here's hoping that you keep blogging for many more years.

Suvro Chatterjee said...

I am surprised, delighted and grateful, Chayanika. My most humble thanks. Maybe we could get to know each other a little more privately, by email, in the spirit of Tagore, dur ke korile nikot bondhu, por ke korile bhai?

Tanmoy said...

Dear Suvroda

First, my apologies for sending over the comment late. I was down with fever.

Secondly and more importantly many congratulations on your blog birthday. You are a person in my life who has had a lasting impression on me. I feel privileged to have met and being taught by you. Honestly, when I left school despite all my wishes, I did not really know whether we would really be in touch for various reasons starting from my parents leaving Durgapur for good.

Though we had a brief pause but I give full credit to your blog for reuniting me with you. In this way, for seventeen years now I am being taught by you. First it was in school and now through your blog.

Your articles have made me think about many issues. The vast amount of knowledge that you have comes across in all your posts. In many cases, I have actually re-read your articles, referred to other writings you have recommended and tried to form an opinion myself.
Thanks Suvroda for writing this blog and I hope you continue to do so. I have known you for so long but your blog posts at times open up a new facet of yours. It makes me wonder, “Oh Suvroda is thinking about this too”. There have been cases where I could not completely agree with you, but at least I have had the opportunity to reason out the differences. The beauty of your posts has been it keeps my mind ticking. Through your blog, I feel I am growing every moment. I do admire your other blog too but this one is a clear favourite of mine, because this was instrumental in getting me back in touch with you.

A person like me probably understands much better, what is the gain of having a Suvroda for so long. It is priceless and I don’t have words to value such a gain.

As far as the “not so pleasant experiences on internet”, I would just say Internet to-day is a reflection of the urban society to a large extent. Like we encounter different kind of people in person, we end up encountering a variety through internet either. Therefore, we have to keep a watchful eye always. I am sure you know this so would not elaborate on the negativities at a time when we are celebrating on this blog.

Best regards and lots of love

victor said...

First and foremost my heartiest congratulations to you on the third anniversary of your blog! I have enjoyed reading the topics and the comments on them as well. It feels like deja vu in a sense, as I have recollections of our classroom discourses (that would be 10-C in 1997) on a variety of topics ranging from ethics, history, literature, science and religion.
In course of my higher education and consequent work experience in the U.S, I have observed that western upbringing as well as classroom practices foster independent thinking and self reliance. I can't but help compare the teaching and learning methods encouraged here (lesser bias for certain subjects over others, acceptance of learning problems, including and integrating students with learning difficulties, emphasis on practical learning) to our educational system. Do you think that the average Indian classroom should encourage more argumentation and independence? Is our educational system 'inclusive' enough in terms of accommodating students with different abilities and interests?
I'm sure your insights on this or a related topic will make for delightful reading!
Once again I wish you and your family the best.


Victor Mukhopadhyay
(St. Xavier's- Class of 97)