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 happy burday to you :-)

    Thank you for helping coin a term for a feeling I often get, which is this: Mutinous.

    I suspect there are many others who feel Mutinous from time to time. It’s a good feeling, because it means that the cubicle and laptop haven’t swallowed our souls yet.

  2. To more years, more banners, more love, to more general dishoom and the like. Cheers.

  3. I think I read that post in a few seconds because I thought you were going to say “Bye folks. Thanks for reading”

    Whew!

    Happy Birthday SM!!

  4. Happy Birthday to You, Happy Birthday to You, You look like a Macaca…And you act like one too.

    Couldn’t help myself.

  5. Happy Birthday Sepia, it has been a wonderful journey for past 1 1/2 years as a lurker. You have been home away from home, opening new perspectives for me in a new country.

  6. Wow! Happy 3rd Birthday SM! And congratulations to the 3 parents!!

    Two father figures are actually a recurring theme in many mythologies, and resonate also in the birth story of Christ himself. Of course, usually one of them is ‘God’ so I won’t push the analogy too far :)

    Congratulations again and thanks for all the hard work in raising the baby through its first three years – arguably the most difficult in any baby’s life.

    (When I first read the title I thought it signalled that only 3 bloggers now remained, glad I was wrong on that!)

  7. Thank you so much for this wonderful, wonderful comunal place where people can come and connect, after a while I imagine it feeling like cheers. Where everybody knows your name!

  8. Happy birthday Sepia Mutiny! This is one of my favourite blogs. The topics are great and almost always jive with my opinions and values. It has definitely made me feel part of a greater brown community, which is something I was beginning to feel isolated from before I found this blog.

    Also, great job with the name as I was drawn to this blog mainly because of that.

  9. Happy Bday SM! You guys ever considered putting ads up,at the very least, to help augment all the hard work and time you put into this? Or even to raise money for charities? You get a ton of traffic…theres a lot you guys can do to help gain some extra cash flow…

  10. Has it been 3 years already? How quickly time passes by. Glad to have been watching you guys since the start… Here is to more years…. more posts … and one day eventually meeting you all again!.

  11. Happy birthday SM!! Very clever Anna, I always wondered what the logic behind using “Sepia” over “Sepoy”, you’ve just put me out of my misery, thanks :-) . And thanks to all the bloggers – I’ve read so many posts – thought-provoking and purposeful – may you keep going for many more years to come.

  12. Happy BurfiDay, SM! long live the mutinous!

    …i once took a history class during which the prof. accidentally said “sepia mutiny” while introducing the topic of the “sepoy mutiny” (to the best of my memory). anyway, it had been stuck in my head…until i googled “sepia mutiny.” you’ve been bookmarked ever since. :)

  13. wow anna, thanks for the recap! i had no idea this was such a collaborative effort! happy, happy birthday to SM!

  14. Tum Jiyo Hazarroon Saal yeh hai meri aarzooo happy buuuurdddayy too youuu (x4)

    my day doesnt start without reading you guys, thanks for everything

    nv

  15. AWESOME!

    Happy birthday SM! I just happened upon this website while randomly googling one day. Feels great to read diaspora-related news here and know that I’m not the only one around who feels a certain way with certain issues. HEH!

    Keep it coming!

  16. Happy Mutinous B’day indeed.

    And in something totally unrelated– 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’m from Texas, there and in California/Florida we’re all getting the two-way part-Spanish medium schools these days, makes the neighborhoods a heck of a lot easier to navigate.)

    Not that I’m expecting my Hindi to really assist a whole lot in picking up Portuguese (except for whatever Hindi-Portuguese Creole action they may have going in Goa), but Spain and Portugal being both neighbors on Iberia and all, I figured it shouldn’t be too hard to leap from Spanish to Portuguese. I dunno, maybe a couple years of determined study, to at least be able to haggle with some street vendor in Rio?

    FWIW– I ask b/c there’s a pretty sizable and rapidly growing Desi community sprouting up in Brazil esp in Rio de Janeiro and the other major urban centers (along with Spanish-speaking South America of course), and I’ve given some thought to at least doing a stint there, who knows maybe even joining my countrymen down there long-term depending on how things work out. I guess my appetite’s been whetted since my cousin who’s resident in Hamburg along with his buddies– flush with all that sweet buying power that comes with drawing your salary in an, ahem, real currency like the Euro in Germany and France– trek to Brazil twice a year when they’re off and tantalize me and my North American fellow Desis with pictures of all the sweetness taking place down there in South America.

    (BTW sehr herzlichen Gruessen an Dich und Familie in Berlin, Ramesh– hey man, did I get that right? :) )

    The Brazilian government recruits especially for Desis with technical skills, computer background, engineering or medical/nursing training– I mean c’mon, that must mean any Desi in the USA, UK or Canada already has a prepackaged visa waiting in Brasilia. :) I gave it some thought– you know, sweet tropical weather probably not too far away from home in the Subcontinent, decently modern cities, nice business and tech opportunities but hoppin’ nightlife and restaurants after dark, some fine, uh, “social opportunities” with Desis and non around there, hey what’s not to like? It’s all about the Portuguese, just wondering how many steps away I am with the espanol going in abundance already.

  17. Three, eh? Isn’t that, like, a lot, in blog years? Now, dears, don’t forget to start making appointments for your prostate check-up, or your mammograms, as the case may be (I didn’t look down there three years ago, and now it’s too late to do that in our civilized society).

    Seriously though, congrats, guys! The SM team and the community here have been wonderful, and if my time here so far has been any indication, I am expecting the coming days and months to be even more enjoyable.

  18. How exciting! Three years, wow. I guess I must have started lurking shortly after you were birthed from the minds of the mutinous three. Congratulations for having it run strong!

  19. Saalgirah Mubarak SM! I’ve only recently come across this blog and it rocks. It’s a wonderful orgy of browness and I’m glad to have stumbled across it.

  20. Congratulations!!!…I really love your site.

    “May your pockets be heavy and your heart be light. May good luck pursue you each morning and night.”

    Lex Luthair: The best way to learn any language is to speak with native speakers. Have you looked to see if there are any ‘Portuguese Meetups’ in your area? I would caution you against moving to Brazil especially if you are considering starting a family. You are much better off moving to Canada or Europe. Take it easy.

  21. Well done to the mutineers, past the present!

    Happy birthday SM. May you go on to be 100!!

  22. Happy birthday to one of the most helpful and delightful sites on the Web. I’ve been lurking since September, when my beautiful adopted daughter was born. Her birthmother is a young woman, adopted herself, from Kolkata’s International Mission of Hope and raised by a European-American family in the states. My husband and I are both European-American, too, and hope to raise Mira to be just as engaged in asking and answering questions about her identity as you are here. Thanks for all the insightful posts and comments!

  23. Happy birthday, Sepia Mutiny! I love this blog and wish I could find people like you all to hang out with in real life!

  24. after a while I imagine it feeling like cheers. Where everybody knows your name!

    They may know it, it doesn’t mean they like it. But I hear you.

  25. Happy birthday y’all (that was in honor of Abhi’s new city of residence)! May there be many more years to come!!

  26. Congrats. What can I say? Ignore the occasional trolls and keep on trucking until baby is …say 30 years old.

  27. Happy b’day! Just on the heels of setting a record for most comments for a post! How appropriate. :) All the best, and keep going.

  28. Yay! It’s time for cake. Thanks for letting me play/lurk for the past year of your three.

  29. I have no idea how I came across Sepia Mutiny. I’m not always good at remembering first meetings, but I sure as hell remember the friendship. I heart SM. Bad.

  30. More than two parents. Isn’t that Rushdie uncle’s trademark trick? Happy birthday you smart, bookish browns.

  31. 23: According to the great diaspora brown philosopher Russell Peters, Portuguese is just Spanish spoken by someone who is hard of hearing.

  32. damn.. can’t believe little s/he’s already 3 yrs old.. has an astonishing amount of friends for a toddler

    happy birthday kiddo

  33. Iniya Pirantha Naal Vaazhuthukkal! (Happy Birthday in Tamil – use it when you can). I don’t remember when exactly SM joined my daily blog feeds. I think it might be because SM has some “cool” Mallu bloggers..heheh :D

    I’m always surprised how SM bloggers could write so elegantly with great insight, on varied topics, which is very difficult for me. Thanks SM for all those posts and comments and inspiring me to write my own blog.

  34. Janam din mubarak ho !

    Dear SM and Mutineers, Congratulations and thanks for being a bright spot in my day , everyday!