“Put up a post, please. Now, if possible.”
“Like…a test post?”
“Yes. A post. Any post.”
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.
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?
Amar Akbar Anthony?
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.
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 not bad…”
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?”
“Let’s do it.”
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.