Saturday, October 15, 2011

500th Post And Six Years Of Ganga Mail. Destination: Salvation

On an average, each post in Ganga Mail is about 500 words. Now multiply that by 500, and it will easily translate into three 250-page books. Three books! Alas, I can't keep them in the shelf. They are invisible books. But they've earned me what real books achieve for their writers: a little bit of recognition.

Tomorrow, if fame comes knocking, the credit will still go to Ganga Mail because it was this blog which helped me find and develop a distinct voice as a writer. I still have a long way to go, but at least I know now that I am capable of telling a story. This would not have been possible without the constant encouragement from the people who read and have stood by Ganga Mail -- to all of you, my heartfelt thanks. With you around, life isn't so lonely.

Ganga Mail was born out of loneliness. I was two months short of 35, still single and, for the first time in my life, without a steady girlfriend. Forget steady, I did not have any woman in my life, with the exception of my mother, who was worrying herself to death about the fact that her elder son was still not married.

There were a couple of women in my life, but they were unknown, unseen beauties with brains who were capable of engaging you in a conversation all night without letting your interest sag even for a moment. They were among the people who read my column in the New Sunday Express and had got in touch, and the conversation with them, even though intense, would be anything but personal. They had built such strong walls of anonymity around them that getting anything personal out of them was next to impossible. Moreover, after a long, stimulating chat, while they would go back to their respective beds or lovers or perhaps spouses, I would be left alone sitting on the mattress and staring at the screen. I had no one left to even call up.

Thus was born Ganga Mail -- as an attention-seeking device. I wanted to be read, to be appreciated. Writing for the paper was not sufficient enough -- that was just my job.

If you dig into the archives of the blog and read the first fifty posts or so, you will encounter the soul of a lonely (though not unhappy) man. In my opinion, that lot contains some of my best posts -- honest and free of the fear of being judged. I would write a post over several drinks and by the end of it would click on the 'Publish' button in a mildly drunken state, without worrying about what I had written -- something that I no longer do.

The lonely phase didn't last long. I started Ganga Mail in October 2005, within six months I was married. By then the blog had assumed a life of its own. It had become my diary, my conscience keeper, my mouthpiece, my front desk, my scribbling pad -- all rolled into one. Above all, it had become my best friend, who not only showed faith in my writing skills and helped me sharpen them, but also taught me that every single moment in your life, no matter how mundane or insignificant they may seem, can be transformed into an engaging piece of writing provided you put your mind into it. That way, you never consider anything to be mundane -- be it the 90 seconds you spend at the traffic signal or the 30 minutes you wait in the queue to pay your phone bill -- every moment, every experience is laden with a ripe fruit called the 'story'. You only have to know how to pluck it. Ganga Mail taught me the art.

Tonight, as I write this landmark post, my mind goes back to the old posts that gave Ganga Mail unprecedented visibility and helped it earn new reader bases. Two such posts easily come to my mind: one, my eyewitness account of Mani Ratnam in action, and the story of Shivani, a fictitious woman I had created.

But the two posts that will always remain close to my heart happen to be written during the lonely phase: one, my search for a particular song, Raat banoon main aur chaand bano tum; two, my eventual realisation that the route to immortality is only through mortality, courtesy a Sahir Ludhianvi song from Kabhie Kabhie. If Ganga Mail were to have an anthem, it would be Raat banoon main -- and it is not even sung by Kishore Kumar, the singer this blog is committed to celebrating.

Then there are countless other posts which I am proud of and wish people would read and reread them, but I can't recall their titles right away to run a search and reproduce the links here. But one of them would certainly be my experience of cremating my mother at the Manikarnika Ghat in Banaras, a place where every devout Hindu desires to be cremated. My mother, even though highly devout, never went to Banaras with the intention of being cremated there: she was merely visiting my brother who happened to be posted in the city, and she just died one fine afternoon while having lunch, three days before her 59th birthday and exactly three hours after I had spoken to her over the phone.

Here again, Ganga Mail came to my rescue: the moment I received the news of her death, I became a blogger-reporter who set out to cover his mother's funeral. I was no longer thinking of my mother, but about how to deliver the news and describe the event to my readers. The readers had become my relatives.

Six long years and 500 posts on, Ganga Mail continues to flow. May not be with the same ferocity when it could be heard even from a distance, but perhaps with a gentle gurgling sound that encourages you to step into the cool waters and splash some of it on your face.

During its journey through the six years, Ganga Mail has received numerous compliments. People who gave those compliments, at various points of time, might have forgotten all about it, but the nice things they had had to say about the blog not only remain engraved in my heart but also lie scattered, as evidence, in the comment boxes of various posts.

But one compliment deserves special mention. It came very recently from someone totally unknown to me, someone who hails from Lucknow, who mentioned my blog on his friend's Facebook wall, saying, Inko padhte jaiye, jeete jaiye, zindagi chakhte jaiye.

Inko padhte jaiye, jeete jaiye, zindagi chakhte jaiye -- Keep reading him, keep living life, keep savouring life.

Now, isn't that the mission statement of Ganga Mail?

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

came across this blog and hadn't intended to read it since i did not like the uninteresting name 'the ganga mail'.i am extremely glad that i decided to read a post anyway,and discovered a jewel among blogs :)
as a person who has never met u,somehow i think you are boring as a person but it's your blog that you choose to breathe life into.the mischief and melancholy of real life pours itself out here.
i also fail to understand why this blog gets commented by only a few while other blogs,lacking in many ways,get flooded with comments.
happy 500 though!
keep writing.

Sepiamniac said...

It is true. Each word here. Having been a reader of your blog since the time it was born, I can say that Ganga Mail has lived up to its name.

It is like a train that meanders through unknown places,conjuring tantalising images of life and narrating hitherto unknown tales.

I am sure many of your readers share the opinion that Ganga Mail has seldom been a slice of just your life, and that it is largely the picture of infinite lives. I am sure you will keep your readers enthralled with the words you weave that are simple yet deep just like its writer.


So, just keep writing, don't bother explaining to anyone who can't understand or rather don't want to. There are more people who visit your blog every day just to see what you have to say, irrespective of facebook or google buzz reports that signal blog updates :)

Soumya said...

Congratulations! May the Ganga Mail have an uninterrupted run :)

Neha said...

Happy 500th!!!

That's quite an achievement and like I have mentioned several times earlier, I love your writing. It's simple and yet, intense!

Looking forward to the 1000th soon...real soon :))

arvind said...

congrats,

quite a milestone. may be, there is a book, if not three, from the five hundred :)

Paresh Palicha said...

First of all congrats! I don't know what more to say... I remember your column in the paper about blogging & my search for it on the Net. This place was called Thought Process then. I'd thought what a brave man he is to write about girlfriends/chat friends in a mainstream Paper & above all expert KK, RD, Gulzar fan.

Your writing has made me brave in a way, to take life head on & not to be ashamed or afraid of anything. :)

Your Pankha

Eswar said...

congrats and thanks for the entertaining writing.

and looking forward to your new books.

Anonymous said...

Congrats!
Happy 500th!
From the one who's at loss for words after reading your posts and hence never comments.
'Marry go round' and 'women' are two of your super-like Bishi.

tanuja said...

congrats! looking forward to many more posts...

Nilu said...

Ganga Mail - the name itself drew me to it. I started reading your blog very recently. Can't wait to read all the other links you've put in here!

Keep writing!

Sudeep said...

Dear BG,
As you have yourself pointed out, Haridwar seems to have been left behind, and the rapids long gone. It is indeed calm and majestic, but not so much fun.

With your Hindu column you can slowly go meandering on, but for the blog there is always the option of going back to Devprayag, and doing the exiting stretch again.

Here’s to your taking us through more Grade IV rapids!!!

Mom with a Dot said...

Wow! this post evidently, comes straight from the heart. Thank you for sharing a bit of yourself. Glad you are enjoying the 500th, but surely, the next 500 would be sooner. Keep Zooming !!

shruthi said...

Congratulations - 6 yrs and 500 posts of unadulterated and unedited you - that is quite the achievement....but you are not done yet and you should give that 250 page compilation some serious thought.

Ardra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ardra said...

Bishwananth,

Long ago, in one of my posts, when I was supposed to do some sort of a tag, and had to talk about some bloggers who made me think, this is what I mentioned about Ganga Mail:

***This is one blogger whose posts I’m eager to read- I’m eager to know what topic is it that he is going to write about next. His honesty and forthrightness is so refreshing and charming. His posts are laced with mischief which sometimes makes the reader chuckle, at other times one wonders if he is daring the reader to refute…there is definitely a zing to his posts! And then there is that random poignant post which touches the reader and compels one to pause and wonder***…

Perhaps the tone, the momentum has mellowed down, but the sincerity, the disarming honesty is still intact.
Whenever there has been a lull here, The Ganga Mail has been missed...

May the Ganga Mail continue to flow, looking forward to many more, much more here ...
:-)

Nandini said...

I first read your article in New Indian Express. Then I started following, waiting for the Sunday paper. In fact I got the link to your web page from NIE. I am a regular reader though I dont post comments. Congrats. Keep it up...
The best article/blog according to me is "Marry Go round"

Desi Babu said...

Dear Ghosh Babu,

Congratulations!!!

Six years is a long amount of time -- long enough for anyone to consider stopping. But your posts, have only gotten better with time. I am so happy that you keep writing, in spite of the many other pressing engagements you seem to have, from time to time. I hope, we get to see your second book soon, I have been eagerly looking forward to it.

If I had a nice glass of Scotch in my hand right now, I would perhaps say "Cheers!" Since I have a long week ahead, I should perhaps fall back to my favorite daytime drink, and say, "Chai Chai?!"

Since we don't really have a universally acceptable way of toasting, when a tea-cup is in the hand, my sincere hope, is that we take a page out of your book, and learn how to toast. That would be the cover page, of course.

And to all your future endeavors, from all of us, your fans, Here's a resounding Chai Chai!!!

Anonymous said...

Dear BG,

I just got to be the part of Ganga Mail a month back, but feel that I have been associated with u from years...

The more I read, the more curious I become to know what will u b writing next...Actually, the way u narrate your experiences is the beauty of your blogs...

Know wat, I have fallen in love with my name ever since I have read the four blogs of yours..Reading was never so much fun for me...But thank u for triggering that spark!!!

N yes, I have fallen in love with my name ever since I read your four blogs on Shivani...Shivani never sounded so beautiful n complete

Keep writing, I would look forward to your 1000th soon!!!


Shivani

Anonymous said...

I was your blog's fan,now I'm a devotee.
rock on.

Anonymous said...

Biswanath Ghosh (i know you do not like dear), have been following your posts for so long. as you said your initial posts were best. also your sunday writeups on express were the the best. i still remember your words in marriage vs myself and poverty and hardship. you are the best. Request you to put your express hat again and write those great emotional stuff which you are the best at. Good luck and god bless. looking forward to your more writings. Vijay C

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention about the Sex and spiritualism one. That was also your best. Regards Vijay C

Anonymous said...

:)

GOOD LUCK

GOD BLESS.

Kasturi said...

Hey Ghosh,
To be honest, I look for your new posts, if any, as soon as I log in to my gmail account. Reason, many. The posts are refreshing, of topics varying from everything to the mundane to the other worldly. But god knows what, they draw people (read voracious blog readers like me)like addicts. Yes, am addicted to your writings. They have so much truth, honesty, simplicity and come straight-from-the-heart, that certainly speak volumes about you - ghosh, the person and the writer. For all those who dont know you much or those who have not met you personally,your blogs certainly easy the job to know you. Bereft of any facade, your writings touch the heart because you put your soul into all your posts like you are communicating with a close friend - face to face.
Its the Ganga Mail that made us friends and the bond will grow stronger with time, am sure.

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

To each one who has commented -- a big thanks!

Diptakirti Chaudhuri said...

Let Ganga Mail run through many more stations and take us along!

Laxman said...

Thank you for the 500 delightful rides.It has been such a pleasure travelling for six years along with you. Keep on rolling the train and telling us your (our)stories.

Anonymous said...

Loved your columns on the Express , that lead to your delightful blog.

Love your posts, even your poignant post about your Mother's demise was so you-straight-from-the-heart & the easy narrative

Congrats & best wishes :)

Thanks for the entertainment

mukeshmodi said...

Hi Biswanath,

Through the column of a columnist friend, Jayesh Adhyaru of Divya Bhaskar (Gujarati), I came to know about your blog. Happened to read your landmark 500th post as my first reading of your blog. It's simply awesome! The way you have made writing a simultaneous life tool, and in the words you have put it in that blog is path-showing! I know now onwards I will be visiting your blog regularly. I am tempted to read the past posts as well. I feel to translate this particular post (500th) for a magazine in Gujarati. Can I? - Mukesh Mod1, Associate Professor and writer (columnist with Divya Bhaskar)

winding river said...

Hi...500 posts...good job and keep the ink flowing...used to read your articles in IP and now read them in The Hindu...I stumbled upon your blog through another blog...this was regarding your visit to Kashi and your keeping your precious Mont Blanc outside while you visited the temple...that put me on a hot MB chase and finally managed a second hand 149...so...there...

Regards,

Jai

Anonymous said...

nostalgia has never struck me so strong before.
a piece of the past indeed.
take a bow Sir.

Bishwanath Ghosh said...

Thank you! -- all of you.

Mukesh, please go ahead.

Deepa Nagaraj said...

Hi,
I am a reader of The Hindu and I regularly read ur columns in the Metro Plus over the morning cup of tea. The casual and lighthearted apporach on various issues taken makes the reading more interesting...I just entered your blog and find it interesting....expecting more articles...
Deepa.

Ganga said...

Hi,

Happened on your blog whilst googling my name. Having read your 500th, the beginner blogger in me could only wish to be at-least half as good.

Congratulations on the 500x500 and All the Best for the many more to come.

Anubhuti said...

Last night when I read some of your articles from as early as 2002, I realised it takes almost a lifetime to achieve one's dreams.
What a pity, the time in my life when I should be busy making mine come true, I sit here at home, wasted.
I guess that's the difference between "normal" people like me and "brilliant" people like you.
People who would have seen your evolution must be so proud of you and you should be so proud of yourself.