Ten Most Personal Posts Of Mine

Seven years back, I was excited as I approached 300 posts on this blog. I take pride in hitting publish, so the fact that I had a 300th button hit on the horizon made me feel good. But then, my life turned around (euphemism for upside down).  I was gradually gifted insights into the true nature of what I was pursuing in terms of mission, livelihood, values, lifestyle, etc. This was not the first time it has happened for me, and I took it head on, making the changes that were possible and working on those that seemed impossible. I was broken socially, emotionally, physically, financially and to some extent, spiritually. I came out of one prison into another, one of misdirected rage and a sense of supreme empowerment that only landed me into further grief. Where I was then, I have learned since, is the best place to be in to initiate real change.

One of the first things that I did was to review the posts that I had on my blog and remove everything that I felt did not measure up to what I stood for, as a person and as a writer. There went my 300th post goal post. Over the next years, I wandered trying to find my calling. Straying dangerously, with only the love and comfort of my dear ones keeping me away from the thin line between sanity and insanity, I struggled to find firm ground, failing again and again. I always feared that some day, I would mistakenly cross over to the sane side and never want to return. Thankfully, my family and friends kept me safe as I redrew my boundaries, reframed my rules, and set about trying to rebuild the mess that my life had become (for, well, the nth time).

Which is why this post is so special. Last year, 2016, I wrote just one post. This year, this will be my 12th. And after the redaction process, I am still some distance from the 300th. Not a great distance, but some. Vires acquirit eundo. When we get there, we will know, as the wise say.

I have undertaken the redaction process multiple times over the last couple of years as I was able to make time from the relatively demanding schedule that I have chosen for my personal journey. Some of the posts were deleted without further thought, mostly stuff that was content marketing. I still write for contests and to endorse businesses that I agree with, but given my disengagement with social networks, neither does it amount to anything nor is it at variance with my commitment to the art of writing. Some of the posts were reverted to drafts, in the knowledge that there was some content of value there, but needed reworking to meet my expectations from myself.

In this process, my blog got a new reader, one who critically read through everything on it from start to now - myself. And I discovered something startling. I have written nearly 400,000 words, all of it fairly personal, but at the end of it, I knew almost nothing of substance about the person who wrote those words. I sleep with that person so I know what I am saying. 400,000 words is like five average sized novels, not the Tolstoy types but still. This discovery was a thrill that is beyond comparison, it is joy and dread, admiration and hatred, medium rare and bitter medicine rolled into one.

The question I was left with, perhaps the question that has mystified and/or repelled all those who have had the good fortune of knowing me up close, was who the hell is this guy, and what is he hiding behind that persona of pseudo-intellectual naivete and literary cleverness? As this year draws to a close and a new one begins, I determine to seek and share the answer to that question. Which might be a terrible idea, but then, trust me, it is manna compared to others I have had over the years.

To set the ball rolling, I thought I would test my own waters by listing the posts already on this blog that most closely reflect the person that I am. I am not the sort of writer that needs close reading, but these posts contain germs of truth that can easily be found if sought. Germs are meant to be like that.

1. Arrogance: Breaking It Yourself. This post from four years back is a reflection on humility from an arrogant perspective, mine. It is also a prank post. So much for humility. A lot of my posts give me away when I start referring to spiritual/religious texts, and this one is a classic example.

2. Body Electric: Tribute to Self: Once again, a trick post, one that was written at the height of the bloggers' debate on plagiarism. I took on a post written by one of the most popular Indian bloggers and recreated it idea by idea, line by line, paragraph by paragraph, metaphor by metaphor. My only objective was to bypass the plagiarism filters that were a rage in those early days of content marketing. 

3. What's Love Got To Do With It? This was written after I experienced a lot of hate on social media for having posted about my experience of my many trips to Tirupati. I am not religious at all, and have never attempted to conceal my contempt for organized religion or professed religiosity. What was interesting is that the hate came from all segments, religions, and backgrounds, from anonymous readers to people who knew me well. Perhaps the intensity of my experience made this post reveal more about myself than I normally am permitted.

4.  A Close Shave.  This is one of the few content marketing pieces that survived my redaction. It is also one of two occasions that I have hosted myself as a guest blogger on my own blog, a tip I received from a veteran Indian blogger when discussing how to handle sensitive personal disclosure.  It is also perhaps my only attempt at erotica after my teens (I considered it as a career option in those days when it took close to hours for a few erotic images to download on 128 kbps ISDN lines). If you read this you will understand why I never pursued this any further. Incidentally, I am also a shaving obsessive, from single edge to 6+1 systems, and everything in between and on the periphery. If you have a question, just ask.

5. The Secret Secret. Even during the time that I was actively engaged with content marketing, I had conflict within me about what I was doing. Then came the time when the fairness creams controversy blossomed, the one that not only highlighted how advantaged the fair were, but also made natural pigmentation of particular body parts look like a disadvantage. The debate was fascinating, but mostly focused on skin. I decided to use skin and color as metaphors for what I really felt about fairness.

6. The Best Of Times. This post was written at the onset of the period of engagement with the bloggers network that would emerge over the next few years in Hyderabad, leading to the Hyderabad Bloggers Meet, The Writers Carnival and Spoken Arts Festivals with Nivasini, and ultimately, SoCh. I include this post in this list not so much because it is personal, but more because of the emptiness that it resulted in over time. It is, in a matter of speaking, one of the more painful posts for me to read back on. How I wish I was able to see the dickens of it when I was living this post. One learns.

7. Forever On A Sunday. This link is to a post I wrote as a guest on a friend's blog, and I was delighted to see it still up after all these years. This post, perhaps because it was not on my blog, contains personal details that I carefully avoid in all my writing. Perhaps it was the safety of knowing that nobody who visits that blog would ever connect back to me that allowed me to do it.

8. Countdown Expired. This is possibly the most difficult and intimate posts that I have ever written, and no one will ever know how important it was for me to get it out my system to have been able to hit the publish button. This was written on the first birthday/death anniversary of our daughter, Maitreyee.

9. Disclaimer of Onerous Property. This was from the time that bloggers were trying to lay down ground rules for the community to stay sane and safe. I decided to put out my standard disclaimer for my blog too. All of these disclaimers still hold.

10. Falling Down Like Hail. This is ostensibly a post on the blues, the history of the blues. The blues has been among the languages I learned as I grew up, and it shaped me, refined my contemporary Indian identity, and kept me going when most of my ilk were resting in peace. This post is not only deeply personal but something that I spent years, no, decades preparing to write.

11. The Story of Parth. If you have been clicking through till the previous entry on this list, and you are not familiar with my letters to my estranged kid, this one is a bonus for you. For the rest, I said ten, didn't I?

Wishing all who visit this blog a very merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year, yours sincerely, Tommy. Lap lap lap lap.

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