It’s been exactly two weeks since I put a new post on my blog. When I started blogging in July 2006, I had never really thought of it as a serious pursuit, the reason why that year there were only two productive months for my blogs, would you believe it! And those blogs, in any case, were driven by the fact that I had decided to churn out something for Madras Day. That I ended up writing more about motor racing and ecological sanitation for rural communities was another matter. There was an improvement in 2007, when I produced blogs for five months, again buoyed by the Madras Week events. It’s only in the past two years that I have tried to be more dogged, writing about several things that I care about, and not just Madras Day and Madras Week.
Nevertheless, during the past two days, I have been doing some introspection, wondering whether writing about things that have already been reported makes any sense at all. After all, a blog is all about finding a platform to express your opinion and letting go of your emotions once in a while. The introspection was driven in part by a friend’s blog, of which I have managed to read only a few posts. And in the days and weeks ahead, you might notice a new flavour to my blogs.
Bishwanath Ghosh’s blog, ‘By the Ganges’ or ‘On the Ganga Mail’ (click alongside to read) I found captivating… more for its simplicity and openness, and, yes, in the depth of its emotion as well. BG, as he is better known among friends, is my colleague in the newspaper office. He is a man of few words, and when he speaks he is hardly audible. But that’s his style; most of the time, he appears to be in a world of his own even though he may be keying in a story or editing a piece. BG is a thinker and writer. No, he is not cut out for putting the famous TOI ‘package’ stories together. Thankfully, it now appears he will be begin a new innings as a ‘writer only’, with a lot of flexibility thrown into his work schedule. Well, more power to his pen or the keys on his keyboard, for BG has quite a few books in him.
BG’s first book, ‘Chai, Chai’ was launched in the markets a few days earlier. But it received a formal launch at the Madras Book Club meeting on Thursday (October 15) that saw a full house, complete with ‘people who matter’ in attendance. Of course, you can’t think of the Madras Book Club without S. Muthiah or K.S. Padmanabhan, and nowadays, S.R. Madhu. I still remember the days when there would be hardly 50-odd people to grace a Book Club meet. There would be tea, no snack that I can remember. But ever since the Hotel Connemara showed interest and offered space for the meetings and also offered snacks, attendance grew and more joined in as members.
The growth of the Club has mainly been due to the fact that Muthiah and Padmanabhan between themselves have been able to get several well-known authors to have their books launched through the Club in Chennai, and get a decent audience for the launch of books of the not-so-well-known authors, too. There are, on an average, about two meetings in a month, which is more than value for money (a single membership for a year costs only Rs 600). That the Club has grown in stature is evident. Muthiah said at the launch of BG’s book that Jaswant Singh was trying to get a date for the launch of his book on Jinnah at a Madras Book Club meeting.
Coming back to BG, for a man of few words, it is not easy to make a public speech. But he played it right, by opting not to speak as such. P.C. Ramakrishna, the man with the golden voice, did a great job, reading excerpts from the book, adding anecdotes, and throwing questions at BG to get the conversation started. And then the others joined in. There were several in the audience who had interesting comments to make; one even wondered whether Basin Bridge could have featured as an important junction in the book.
I wonder whether BG has plans for another book on platforms, but I did suggest to him that he could in the future visit some of the lesser-known, quaint railway stations (like one called Champa in east Madhya Pradesh I used to get down often at once) that you find in many places in India. Life in and around these stations might be an altogether different story than the ones BG has written about – of Jolarpet, Guntakal, Shoranur and others.
BG naturally felt the absence of his mother at the launch; she had passed away only a few weeks ago. But in the warmth that was palpable at the evening function and the welcome which ‘Chai, Chai’ received, it was clear that the son had his mother’s blessings in abundance.
BG will soon get started with his second book that is likely to feature specific areas in Madras that is Chennai. Royapuram is probably the first locality in his list.