India Uncut

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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

A meeting by the beach

So what happened when six bloggers met at Café Coffee Day at Chowpatty on Sunday, just a short distance away from the beach and the raging sea? Well, I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you. Or give you a cup of Ethopian Qahwah.

Are you sure you want the Qahwah? Well, then, here we go.

I was the first to arrive, half and hour early, and was soon joined by a dapper (and boyish-looking) Yazad Jal, aka Niles Frasier. I ordered a cappucino, Yazad spent 10 minutes giving detailed instructions on what kind of coffee he wanted, and then we discussed the book I was reading, by a libertarian many other libertarians dislike. After a while Dina Mehta joined us. We wondered what would happen if a blogger who knew none of us walked in there. Would he go from table to table asking if the people there were bloggers? It turned out later that exactly this happened to Anand, of Locana. We will make it up to him next time with a Qahwah.

Mandar Talvekar had no such problems. “I knew this was the bloggers’ table,” he said to me, “because of your long hair.” Ravikiran Rao was to blame for this, having gushed luridly over my tresses in his description of our last bloggers meet. We instantly improvised a sign on our table that said “Bombay Bloggers”, but it was no longer required. Zainab Bawa was the next to join, and she knew the charming (and baby-faced) Yazad, so there were no problems of identification.

Mandar is a quiet and thoughtful man who came all the way from Ambernath just for this meeting, and Zainab is a quiet and thoughtful young lady who came all the way from Byculla, and for the first half-an-hour, they had reason to be quiet and thoughtful, as a heated discussion on Parsis ensued. Although Zainab is Bawa, she is not a Bawa, as Yazad and Dina are. (Much like ZZ Top, the three-man band in which the only guy without a beard was named Beard.) Yazad and Dina were soon yelling at each other across the table, and the three of us watched with bemusement, because they were agreeing with each other. So Dina would go, “Yazad, I am saying exactly the same thing as you, and [howl] and [holler]”. And Yazad would say, “Yes Dina, we are on the same page, and [bawl] and [bellow].” I ordered my second cappucino.

I exaggerate, of course, as writers sometimes do. Our conversation was stimulating, and we did discuss many things apart from Parsis, some of which are enumerated in the accounts of Ravikiran and Mandar. (Yes, Ravikiran did join us, a full one-and-a-half hours late, driving all the way from, gulp, Vasai.) We got Dina to agree that the government should make it mandatory to have spikes on the steering wheel of every car, so that people drive safely and pedestrian deaths are reduced. (For those a trifle confused about this, Yazad and Ravi and I were arguing against the government making wearing helmets compulsary, and thought experiments led to spikes.) Arguments took place on whether “blogging could be harmed by irresponsible bloggers”, as Dina felt. My position was that the blogpsphere is like a free market, regulated by readers as efficiently as a free market is by consumers. As Dina and Yazad and I argued on this, Zainab, clearly amused, took many pictures. Yes, one day, you may see them. After 100 Qahwahs.

So what is all this about Ethiopian Qahwahs, you ask. Well, Ravikiran ordered one as soon as he got in, and it came in a bucket-sized cup, in which a couple of chihuahuas could have frolicked and made out. Ravi’s hearty endorsement of it persuaded the jaunty (and infant-nosed)Yazad and I to share one. We found out that a Qahwah tastes just like a cappucino, and a rose by any other name is an Ethopian Chrysanthemum. Never mind.

It has been proposed that Bombay’s bloggers, or Mumbai’s mloggers, meet on the last Sunday of every month. Further updates will be posted on our sites. Thanks to all who came for this one, I enjoyed it.

Postscript: Shortly after we put up the “Bombay Bloggers” sign, a gentleman on the table besides us tapped me on the elbow and asked me what “Bombay Bloggers” was all about. I asked him, rather too presumptuously, if he knew what blogging was. It turned out that he was a correspondent for the New York Times in Mumbai, and he took down our details, and left his. Much later, after he had left and Ravikiran joined us, Ravi informed us that Anand Giridharadas, as this gentleman was named, was one of the founders of the famous OxBlog – here’s an early post by him. Anand, if you’re reading this, please join us for our next bloggers meet, we’d be delighted to meet up with you.

One more postscript: This was actually the second blogger's meet in January. Here are accounts of the first one by Yazad, Ravikiran and me.
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