As Iris inches slowly to hit the 30,000 mark, it is thankful to all its readers who have supported and strengthened her through years of its journey in the blogosphere. Those who have come to Iris for a momentary read have stuck-by for years, while many who had promises made for years vanished into thin-air within a single read 😉 . It’s been a very slow and difficult process to build and reach this count — for some who have friends, connections, professional links, name and popularity, a 30 K mark on a blog may not be that great a moment. However, for Iris the task was herculean — it meant “patience” , commitment to “offbeat” writing and “waiting”. I am sharing these stats for the first time on the blog — sometimes not more than 2 hits a day it has kept fluctuating and moving like a turtle in the ocean of blogs. It took us a long journey together, a journey through time — each hit on this blog is assuredly YOUR hit, because we have always revolted against proxy hits! Each hit has thus counted like heaven for Iris.
When Anne had started Iris, hardly did she know that it is going to be a part of an identity that was to last for so long. My frequent readers will remember the statement I had given in the ‘About Me’ page where I wrote that I am blogging because others in my neighbourhood including Aamir (Khan) and Shekhar Kapur are blogging too and that I am just “Wordless in WordPress” . Well, now it seems that those who started writing with me have either got immortalized ( the ‘Greatest among Common (hu) men’) or have completely slipped into anonymity. Some of my contemporaries like Mr. Bachhan (we started around the same time 🙂 ) are still into passionate blogging while others have moved away.
One of these days a colleague was discussing with me about social sites and networking, and he said “blogs are passe”. I refuse to believe the statement that blogs are passe. These are platforms where you can be truly creative without trying to be consciously creative. Iris has a personal interest in anything that has been termed ‘passe’ because it believes that the ‘passe or what is dismissed as past gets recycled someday and filters in some way into the future/present’.
The interesting part of Iris’s journey has been its anonymity. Google has still not reached the original crawl of Anne De Plume’s identity and it is a game that I cherish. Those who know my ‘real’ name can type and fish me out, but those who don’t know the name, would perhaps like to say: “what is there in a name?” (Shakespeare) 😉 . Anne De Plume is a derivation of Nom De Plume. Initially it was designed to protect the identity of a young woman/student writing blog articles on relationships, life, and life at IIT. However, slowly Anne became an alter ego of the person who is drafting this blog. Many who have known Anne personally know her ‘other’ identities and the person(s) she is. Those who do not know her and are searching for her ‘real’ identity — well, it’s just a matter of time 🙂 .
While I was writing this article, a thought has been constantly crossing my mind which I pose before you all as a question: “how popular is popularity?” I mean how desirable is it to be after TRPs and USPs? Are extreme popularity and extreme anonymity both not injurious to health? Is there some way that one strikes a balance between both? Heath Ledger became extremely popular after his character Joker in the Dark Knight, but perhaps he lived the life of the Joker and believed it as deeply as he portrayed it: “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain” (Joker, Batman, 2008) . Mariilyn Monroe too lived and kept trying to prove her worth as someone beyond the ‘dumb blonde’ image. Popularity is usually followed by a series of misadventures, pressure to ‘keep proving yourself’ to the world, etc. I was trying to understand SRK and his recent demeanor in all the interviews and promos that he has been giving of late. It appears as if the pressure of constantly proving himself as the “king” of Bollywood is driving him to an edge — a constant drive to ‘remain’ popular rather than to achieve popularity.
There is the other extreme of this story too. How far is extreme anonymity tolerated by those who have the mettle to prove themselves in the world, with perhaps their circumstances not letting them do so or else their lives designed to keep them in that anonymity? I am thinking loudly of Dr. Subhas Mukhopadhyay whose life and death inspired Tapan Sinha’s award-winning movie Ek Doctor ki Maut (1990). For those who intend to know who Dr. Subhas Mukhopadhyay was, just a quick brush — he was the Doctor who actually invented the “test-tube” baby, an honour which was apparently refused to him during his life time. He was struggling against the extreme anonymity that Indian scientists and inventors had/have to go through due to the lack of research funds and peer acceptance of research ideas. A young doctor played in the movie brilliantly by Pankaj Kapur, cannot survive the humiliation of being pushed into anonymity by his peers and is driven to commit suicide in the end. The story centers around a hypothesis that India lost a Nobel Prize in medicine to the British Scientist Edwards because of internal strife and nonrecognition of Dr. Mukhopadhyay’s talent by people close to him and by international reviewers alike.
Fame and anonymity both come with their own set of baggage. Handling the baggage of extreme popularity and extreme anonymity must be tough in its own ways. We always look and long for the ‘others” life thinking that it is perhaps the best life that one can have. Coming to this popularity quotient of Iris, let me show you an interesting pie-chart that a friend drew on his whiteboard recently trying to explain me the ‘essence’ of Iris 🙂 :
We were in the midst of a discussion on something related to academics, when he suddenly said: “I read your Iris. Dhut! There seems to be a complete loop in which you exist and one can show in a pie-chart the activities of your blog. It moves from “Love” to “Individual/Depression/Distinctiveness etc.”, to “Leadership”, to “Short-Stories and Poems (very little component), to “Love” once again” ….. “So what is there as the crux of Iris? Seems there is very little movement in your circle except love or the lack of it” . I was taken aback,laughed, surprised, and humbled. I said that “since you think that deeply to analyze/critique Iris in a pie-chart there must be something really popular about Iris” 🙂 . I captured his whiteboard in a camera (old habit of clicking pictures of certain people’s whiteboards) and scared him with a thousand statements regarding how am I going to portray him on Iris . As far as Anne’s response regarding love or the lack of it forming the crux of Iris is concerned, she has always said on this platform that it is love not hatred that actually is the driving force of this universe and Iris tries to capture a bit of that emotion in its pages. Popularity and fame comes as a byproduct of passionate involvement in one’s work, to be kept at bay so that it doesn’t sweep you off your feet.
I pause this post here with the question of popularity still lurking. It’s 2 am at night and a strong chilly breeze blows across the balcony, feeling the chill of another winter. For the time-being it is a matter of celebrations for us here because of the receding Diwali hangover. Let me know how did you celebrate your Diwali? Sharing a picture of my Diwali and Iris celebrations (of course sans me).
Keep smiling, keep happy, and go strong :)! Ciao! See you all soon!