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Kismet connection

HT journalist-blogger Mayank Austen Soofi will be published in a Pakistani textbook. But it hasn’t been all fun with five blogs, a day-job and five bosses...

india Updated: Jul 27, 2008 01:31 IST

The day I became a story on page one of the Hindustan Times (Blogged in India, between covers in Pakistan), people looked at me, looked away, and then looked again. What kicks I got. Current friends demanded a treat, forgotten friends demanded to meet, neighbours congratulated and strangers called from Gorakhpur and Buffalo (my phone number is listed on my blog). But these moments of glory are fleeting. The day dies, the daily is dumped, and that day’s story becomes yesterday’s headline. Life chugs back to anonymity and I’m back in the darkness, groping to keep the machine running — five blogs, one day-job and five bosses in that day-job to take care of.

Three years ago, there was only one blog — Ruined by Reading. It started by accident one afternoon when I first saw Arundhati Roy — my muse — in flesh in Jantar Mantar. That was a different time, and I was just another employee in a different office. During the day, my mind would be on my job; at night, I would pour my mind — also my heart and soul — into this new calling. The blog was my secret mistress. She was a new world with her own lingo: float alignment, site archiving, dashboard and RSS feeds.

To write posts, I would stay up late, sometimes going to bed at dawn. Once ‘published’ (ah, that sweet feeling!), imagining people around the world reading me, I would wait for comments that wouldn’t come. But, so what? Just when I would start losing interest and fail to ‘upload’ anything new, a stranger’s comment would pop up demanding a new post. I would start again. A writer needs nothing more than the satisfaction of being read. In office, nobody knew the real me. That didn’t matter.

Then I went to Lahore, drove all the way to Karachi and started distilling the adventures in a new blog — Pakistan Paindabad. Once back in Delhi, I consummated my affair with the city and the result was a new baby — The Delhi Walla. Then I made a Sony digicam my mangalsutra and presto — there was a photo blog. A few months ago, I translated my passion for Arundhati Roy into something more tangible and, yeah, here was another blog.

While my colleagues ‘poke’ friends on Facebook, I twiddle away my after-and-before work life on Blogspot. Sometimes, a new idea would start hammering in my head just when the boss would order me to stick to deadlines. Listen to her or to write a new post…?

Blogging is sinfully addictive. It is sex outside marriage while a day job is sex within. Blogging has no rules, and no protocol. You can be as nice or irresponsible as you like. If you have more than one popular blog, you feel as if you own a publishing house. Except, of course, you have no office, no employees, no printing press and definitely no secretary to wake up at 4am.

In any event, a secretary would rob me of the pleasure of answering a mail that says, “I reached your blog through… I couldn’t resist writing this mail to you”. Why deny myself the nervous thrill of waking up at an unearthly hour, splashing cold water on my face, logging on, staring at the screen, thinking hard to compose the first sentence of the day’s first post and — oh God — nothing comes to mind! Such are the illicit thrills of a blogger’s life.