About a fortnight ago, I met a Hollywood director who’s known for big commercial movies, and one very famous art house hit. He’s now planning to do something really exciting in animation (keep reading Lounge for more). While his passion for the magic of the movie camera is unadulterated, he confessed that one of the best things to have happened to him in recent times is his blog. Incidentally, most comments on his posts come from Indians. “I think Indians are essentially conversationalists. They are opinionated and they love talking,” he said.
Star blogger: Big B made news with his.
I returned to office and found myself in a mini maelstrom. The Blogspot domain had been temporarily blocked in our office. It was infuriating not to be able to read our favourite blogs (I do it just after lunch; a prefect way to start the second half of my working day).
Us journalists have a love-hate relationship with bloggers. We read them with curiosity, but in public we express contempt for them, saying blogs don’t have the credibility of journalism; that anything goes in a blog. We mock their seriousness, cheekiness or courage. NDTV 24x7 recently hosted a debate on the relevance of blogging; and most bloggers invited to the show happened to write confessional personal blogs.
Some authors are sceptical, too. A couple of years ago, I met Vikram Chandra, the US-based author of Sacred Games (2006) who told me that he considered blogging to be an extended, virtual form of the age-old diary —i t has universal appeal, but it can never be a substitute for journalism or literature. I agree with that point of view to an extent. Bloggers certainly haven’t won the battle of ideas, but I also think there are great contenders for that battle in blogosphere. We all know that some Indian blogs complement media reports with excellent, thought-provoking stuff (I’ll refrain from naming any here; I’m compiling a list of Lounge’s favourite blogs. Visit livemint.com/favouriteblogs for the entire list).
I first wanted to write a blog in 2005. Along with a former colleague, I went for a signing of Vikram Seth’s last book, Two Lives. We were in the queue awaiting our turn, when actor Aamir Khan came up and asked: “Is this the queue for signing?” Unmoved, indifferent and already under Seth’s spell, we showed him where the queue ended. The next day, I wrote a small piece about the event in the daily that I was working with. In her blog, the former colleague painted the whole picture, which my paper couldn’t possibly accommodate (including the Aamir Khan brush-off that we were proud of). I immediately thought of a topical blog called quarrel&quandary (after my favourite essayist Cynthia Ozick’s book of the same name). Never got down to it.
Do visit http://foodmuseum.typepad.com/potato_museum_blog, the blog of the fascinating Potato Museum in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that the writer of this week’s cover story came across. “The travelling tuber” (Page L12) took time to become a 3,000-word story. It’s a perfect example of what we, as writers, try to do in Lounge besides giving you new ideas to think about—to tell an old story like it is being told for the first time.
The review of The Open Road, Pico Iyer’s new biography of the Dalai Lama (Page L18), prompted me to pick it up over the weekend. About 100 pages into it, I wondered: Can the endearing Buddhist monk match the greatness of Mahatma Gandhi? Can he do for Tibet what Gandhi did for India? Might be a slightly far-fetched comparison, but something to think about.
The book made me dig out the DVD of one of my favourite movies — Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi. As always, it was inspiring. Wish I had quarrel&quandary going to tell you more about it.
Priya Ramani is away until August. Catch up on her travels at Blogs.livemint.com. Below is her post on Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
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