Now We Are Three.

“Put up a post, please. Now, if possible.”

“Like…a test post?”

“Yes. A post. Any post.”

“Um…okay.”

I leaned back, then giggled. I was in a silly mood. A few moments later…

i’m brown irish, actually.

there once was a group of brown nerds
who spent all their time toying with words
they all loved to blog
(some from a city with fog)
b/c let’s face it, a social life’s for the birds.

(mc sharaabi, out)

“Ta-da!”, I trilled, to my late German Shepherd, Rani.

A few moments later, a terse reply appeared: “thanks.” Don’t ask me how, but I knew that his trebuchet-lettered, monosyllabic response had been punctuated by one mighty eye-roll, instead of just a period.

And that’s how it all began, on July 30, 2004

::

It was dizzying, the start of this thing, this “project”, this labor of love, loathe, learning and light.

Political ads were everywhere, constantly reminding us that we were cynical spectators at the race to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue; so were news stories, about outsourcing, racism (clumsily cloaked as wit), and profiling. Three years ago, we were outraged over the very same things. Normally, this would depress me, but I can’t despair, not now, not over this. This is extraordinary. The issues may be the same, but everything else is different, because we are different. We are here.

::

July, 2004.

I wrote a post on my original blog, HERstory.

Manish wrote a post on his original blog, vij.com.

Abhi emailed us, plus two more.

“Guys, I can’t believe so many of my friends are still undecided about whom to vote for…yet when I show them your story on Mamta, Anna, or yours on Michigan’s GOP, Manish…then they’re suddenly more decisive. You know what we need to do? We need to centralize this, all of this information…because the conventions are coming and what is at stake is so important…we need to reach more people.”

There were murmurs of agreement and empathy.

“Guys, I think we should create a group blog for this stuff. Think about it– all of our readerships overlap a little bit…the same people who might read Anna, sometimes read Manish or me….it’s great that we’re raising awareness about these desi news stories that get no attention otherwise, but we should focus our efforts, so people aren’t going to different places. This is the first year they’ll allow bloggers at the convention! We need to do this. Now.”

And we did.

For approximately six hours, furious rounds of emails passed, a few instant messenger chats popped and one phone call was made…then, we paused. The most difficult decision we had faced yet stymied us, putting a consummate, thudding halt to our spectacular telesis.

Uh, what would we name this goo-covered thing, which was “crowning” and about to force its debut any minute now?

Desirati?

Indian Ink?

Blogwalla?

Tamarind.

Amar Akbar Anthony?

Dishoom Dishoom?

XDesi?

BrownAmerica?

Desispiracy?

PanDesi?

Desinfect?

Desified?

Shotgun Rishta!

Desintegrate?

Blogging While Brown.

We each had submitted close to a dozen names; we ranked and re-ranked, and then calculated which idea had what percentage of support. It was exhausting. It reminded me of sorority rush, when prospective pledges ranked the houses they liked and we did the same on the other end, hoping that without too much delay or effort, everything would get sorted and everyone would be happy.

Uh, no.

After blazing through vision, expectations, concepts and possibilities, unanimously agreeing, almost immediately, on all of it (No meetings? GREAT. No deadlines or assigned stories? Awesome! No expectations or rules, beyond the barest minimum of guidelines, which all seemed to pop out of our heads identically and simultaneously? FANtastic. Some of us have never [and still never!] met? Who cares?)…we were stuck.

“What about Sepia Mutiny?”, I blurted out.

Silence.“You know, like the Sepoy Mutiny? But…brown. Old-fashioned, sepia pictures are brownish, right? Brown mutiny!”

“It’s…different.”

“Hmmm.”

“It’s not bad…”

“Sepia Mutiny??”

I took a deep breath. “Look…it has one major thing going for it– it’s weird. No one else has a name that’s even close to it. Unlike “desirati” or “XDesi” or even “Indian Ink”, it’s not likely that anyone will choose similar. It will be ours.”

“I like “desirati” and “Indian Ink, Anna.”

“I do, too. In fact, I loooove Indian Ink. But what will our Sri Lankan/Bong/Pakistani friends think? ‘Yay! More Indian dominance?’ There’s a reason why schools go with SASA vs. ISA, right?”

“I’m down.”

“Me too.”

“Fine.”

“Let’s do it.”

“Really? YAY!”

::

Within a day, this site was up. It was real. It had rotating banners– just a few, but there they were, with the same formatting you see now. All of them depicted the Sepoy Mutiny, even if via toy soldiers.

The background was decided upon and a color scheme was designed. Our shiny, new name granted us a goof-proof theme. I was delighted that Manish was playing technical wizard to Abhi’s visionary, because I had fallen in love with the aesthetics of vij.com, back in the day. Everything suddenly drifted in to place, the way a jigsaw puzzle ends, when there are just a handful of pieces left, and it’s obvious what to do with them.

It was miraculous and perfect…and funny. You see, my stupid rhyme was still up. I understood why. It had nothing to do with affection for me, of which there is always an excess– my boys, they indulge me– nor was it appreciation for my skillz, noooo. That test post was up because it was SO us. It was silly, sarcastic, snarky, self-deprecatory, sassy and not at all serious.

It was apposite.

This was not a newspaper or a magazine.

This was a mutiny.

And we’d be damned if we didn’t have as much fun with it as possible. Cosa nostra. Our thing. Who said uprisings had to be somber? When you’re fighting the good fight, battling the ignorance and apathy that we were, you realize you have nothing left to lose. So you laugh. You shout (Boring, serious posts? These are the things I can do with out, come on…I’m talking to you, come on…)

And you thrill to every mutineer who stumbles upon your mob; you smile as you see them joyfully recognize what they (and you) had always been looking for, as they lustily join in the chant, contributing their brilliance and their devotion and in some cases, for those who no longer bless us with their goodness, their memory.

The movement grows, and you realize that no matter what sacrifices were required or whatever temporary setbacks had you muttering, “Charlie Foxtrot” bitterly at the time, nothing this amazing came easily.

Every moment spent fussing over this space during these past 1,095 days, for more than 4,025 posts, couldn’t have been offered to a better cause. After all, some of us waited for years for a room of our own. A place that was ours. And many of us didn’t know how long the door would remain open here, which makes what I’m about to type even sweeter:

Happy Birthday, SM.

Stretch marks and permanent destruction of obliques be damned, you are one fantastic baby and I’m glad we had you. Now smash your face in the cake and have some fun– Mama’s got a 2 gig memory card with your name on it, burrrday boy.

96 thoughts on “Now We Are Three.

  1. Happy birthday, Mutineers :) And to think, had I not gone to a 3rd I fest, I would have never heard of SM.

    to any Desi multilingual masters out there who happen to speak both Spanish and Portuguese, how easily can you pick up the Portuguese if you’re already up on the Spanish? If you’ve, say, been a Desi-American who’s been speaking Spanish and Hindi fluently since age 7 or so, how easy is it as a young adult to learn Portuguese?

    I think Portuguese is relatively easy to pick up post-Spanish, but that said, I wouldn’t move to Brasil without the building blocks of fluency, first. This is totally my bias — I’m really visual and grammar-based when I learn new languages (part of the reason I have such a hard time with German!), and I would never pick up Portuguese on immersion alone. Good luck, though!

  2. Happy BDSM!

    It has been a bonding experience for all of us.

    May SM continue to dominate!

  3. Damn! I didn’t know that quoting oneself was a milestone. Now I suppose I have to pass the comment on to the next person who does this.

  4. Amar Akbar Anthony

    oooh snap. totally forgot about that. could’ve been relevant too.

  5. happy birthday, SepiaMutiny! and a resounding ‘THANK YOU!’ to all the ROCKSTARS who made – and continue to make – this happen. i LOWVE this space, this light, and this open door.

  6. awesome post, A N N A.

    here’s to, you SM–for building community, bringing together great minds and, most importantly, for putting IT–the important shit–on the table [for us to devour].

  7. Happy Birthday, SM! Not only do I enjoy your posts, but between this blog and NPR, I feel that I make up for my addiction to gossip blogs. Thanks for enabling!

  8. A thousand years from now, this day will be known as “Sepia Mutiny Jayanti” in Amerindistan. I’ll crack open a cold Colt 45 to that.

    Cheers!

  9. Happy BDay SM! Thanks for all the hard work. I found this website just a few months back and now I’m addicted.

    On another note, my wife and I found Portuguese to be much more difficult than Spanish. Words are spelled very similarly, but the pronunciation was quite difficult.

  10. honestly, the energy and the drive behind this project was phenomenal.. happy birthday SM

  11. I wish there was more i could do with this site….given how much i get out of this site, i would like to give back more…

  12. A Thousand Happy Returns! Live long and prosper!! I raise a glass of shandy made of Diet Sprite and Coors Lite to all you Big Three Parents and to all who join, stay, play, leave, return….

    (How I found SM: Googled “Sepai Mutiny” around the time The Rising was released, and Google said, “Did you mean sepia mutiny“)

  13. I just want to thank all the Sepia Mutiny bloggers past, present and future for running this site. It means a lot to me even when I am just lurking. It has offered me a conduit for exploring my desi-ness, my mixed-ness and my american-ness. So, happy birthday SM and I hope to see you celebrate many more!!

    SDM :0)

  14. Awww Happy Birthday. That’s awesome. This must be a special day. I decided to resurrect the blog from hiding and you guys are celebrating a birthday :-) You guys have made me a better person that’s for sure. I think I said the same thing last year hehehe; but it’s true!

  15. Happy Birthday, SM. I love how this is such a great space for all of us. Sometimes all you wanna do is share the joy (India clinch seven wicket win, yay!), and sometimes you want to share that other thing (English versus India : India clinch seven wicket win). This is good for both. Keep up the good work, folks!

  16. Happy Birthday! I found this blog randomly in March of 2006, and it has been something that I have to read everyday. Thank you so much for the hard work you all do to make this my favorite online community. Now I will go back to lurking:).

  17. I wish there was more i could do with this site….given how much i get out of this site, i would like to give back more…

    hook up with one of your fellow mutineers, sire some children who will be brainwashed into becoming writers and/or computer geeks and will carry on the SM legacy. if time is a factor, adopt a kid who is about 17 years old (or better yet, already fits one of these career profiles) and then put them to work. and, of course, make them write a post to detail the entire journey.

    enjoy your happy burd-day, SM!

  18. hook up with one of your fellow mutineers, sire some children who will be brainwashed into becoming writers and/or computer geeks and will carry on the SM legacy. if time is a factor, adopt a kid who is about 17 years old (or better yet, already fits one of these career profiles) and then put them to work. and, of course, make them write a post to detail the entire journey.

    ANNA, care to pull a J. K. Rowling and write us a fictional “19 Years Later” SM epilogue? ^__^

  19. Yeah, the birthday is great, but no one will be happy until the baby graduates from med school. ;>)

    Um… that was awesome.

    Seriously though… I should’ve known you were a Leo too. Le sigh.

  20. Also Anna(forgive me for commenting twice in a row), once when I was in Boston, a (desi) taxi driver asked me where I was from. I said I was Irish, and that my dad’s name was Joe and my mom’s name was Pat and we owned an Irish bakery in Southie. He totally believed me. And then my actually Irish friend vomited out the window. Classy.

  21. Thanks to the bloggers and many/most of the commenters for all the excellent, quality discussions. This site has really enriched my life and expanded my viewpoints. Thanks also to Jai Singh (U.K. Wale), who doesn’t seem to post here anymore and probably doesn’t even lurk, for making me aware of this site.

    Speaking of that, Jai, if by chance you still lurk, how about a one-liner telling us you’re still alive?

  22. Dear Productivity Killers,

    If you bunker dwellers ever spin off SM into Sepia Destiny, I’d like to be your underwriter. I We would make millions. However, there is one condition- I’d like to fire that schizo monkey intern who talks in different voices. What a screwball.

  23. What a screwball.

    Oh and I came here via Amardeep’s blog which I started reading after I googled something about Edward Said.

    Milestones and whatnot, Rahul.

  24. Many Happy returns of the day SM!! May you be blessed with infinite posts and may there be countless additions to the wonderful group of people who leave a little piece of themselves on your pages.

  25. I didn’t know tamarinds were a desi thing, too. I thought we Virgin Islanders had exclusive rights to mangos and tamarinds. Shiver me timbers.