Five Years of Blogging

Last month, I completed five years of blogging.

Naturally, I went back to see what had happened to the blog that had originally inspired me to start one of my own – Rajesh Jain’s Emergic.org.

If you’ve been following my blog, you will know that this past year has been an eventful one for me, to say the least.  As a result, I’ve not been able to keep pace with the XML feeds of some my frequently-read blogs, as much as I would’ve liked.  And, the Emergic blog has been one of them, especially in light of the sheer volume of writing put out by Rajesh, day after day.  That is why I was surprised to come across this post on Emergic:

It has been an extraordinarily long break from blogging. After six years of daily updates, I took a break last June-end, necessitated by a bout of influenza which left me bed-ridden for a couple weeks. Around the same time, work became very busy. Also, my son, Abhishek, (growing from 2 to 3 years) made sure that mornings and evenings were his time with me. And, I had just gotten bored of the format of one weekly Tech Talk series (which was becoming repetitive) and giving links to interesting articles. So, I stopped – hoping for a magical makeover and some inspiration! That never happened – until now.

This time around, I will blog more on what I think – rather than giving only the links. So, the posts will be less frequent, but hopefully more meaningful. I have also migrated the blog from MovableType to WordPress. All in all, time for a new beginning.

As it turned out, I hadn’t missed all that much.  Coincidentally, in that time, my friend Rajesh had also moved his blog to WordPress, like I had done only last month!  The best part of it all was that the Emergic blog was off to a fresh start – hopefully, less volume more insights – leaving no excuse to keep up with it, every day…

I also took a peek at the other blog I most frequently-read – MetroDad.  His was the dad-blog that reaffirmed my efforts to continue writing on parenting and fatherhood, whenever I wondered if there was any audience for it.  To my surprise, I discovered that the MD blog was also on a trip down memory lane, having completed four years of dad-blogging:

When I first started this blog, I never really believed that anyone would be interested in hearing a guy blather on about fatherhood… After all, let’s face it. We still live in a world where men are not really encouraged to discuss their inner feelings. Most of us just don’t want to hear about it.

But four years, ten pounds, and two colonoscopies later here I am. Still standing.

In fact, this is my 337th post. It’s hard to believe. 337 times I’ve released my mental diarrhea out into the public arena. Who knew I even had that much to say?

If any of you have attempted blogging, you’ll know how tough it is to maintain one.  For all the technology out there that’s made it easier to publish your thoughts on the Web, “keeping at it” takes effort and time, and is easier said than done.  One estimate I’d come across recently, stated that over 90% of blogs that are started on various popular platforms do not go past three posts, and lie dormant thereafter.

It all begs the question: Why do I blog?  MetroDad offers an insight:

Since its inception, this blog has been my own personal soapbox. It not only serves as a place for me to transcribe my personal journey into fatherhood but also lets me vent about the truly important issues of the day that seriously affect all of us.

Not unlike MetroDad’s own experience, writing through this blog has offered me an avenue to do two things:

1. Speak about the things that really matter to me as an individual, and

2. Maintain a log of my years as a parent, so that my two little children have the benefit of knowing what their childhood was like, and what their parents were all about – something, I did not have the opportunity to know growing up.

Five years and 244 posts later, there doesn’t seem to be much of a decision to make.  Is there an option but to continue blogging?!

Give a Little

Earlier this month, I started the “Give a Little” project:

It was born in response to the growing need for organ donors in India, and the almost negligible awareness that exists on the subject, among people from all walks of life.

In the absence of a sufficiently large donor bank, countless human beings are left with no choice but to wither away and die. The “Give a Little” project aims to change that through an increased awareness of the issues concerning organ donation.

Why should you consider donating your organs?  The real question should be: Why not?!

Think about it: It doesn’t cost you a thing, and it can save several people’s lives!  Countless lives have been lost because a right organ match could not be found in time.  You can help change that, by simply ticking a check box on a donor card. 

This project is a small beginning towards that end.

If you’re convinced, show your support for the initiative.  If not, read more before you decide. 

It’s the least you can do.

One Hundred Years

The date was 15th of March. Until a few years ago, it would have called for a celebration. But, this year, it almost went un-noticed. I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what happens to people, long after they’ve left our company. Even more pressing was my desire to get to know a little bit about him, before the memories also fade away.

So I made the out-station call to the one person I could think of. Here’s what he had to say, written in my own words…

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By any standards, he had what you would call, a “hard life”. His father died when he was just 4 years old. A fortnight later, his mother passed away too, leaving behind four orphans.

The 2 brothers and 2 sisters were brought up by a paternal uncle – Santdas Merani. Soon, there came a time when his uncle could no longer afford to spend on his education. He was in the seventh standard when his uncle told him to quit school and take up a job. It was a big blow to him! Until then, he had excelled in his studies, and had nurtured the dream of continuing his education for as long as possible.

When his headmaster learned of his circumstances, he arranged for the school to bear the entire expenses of his remaining tenure, including his food and stay! On hearing this, the uncle was left with no choice but to continue funding his school education – “what will others think?” held more power in those days than it does today.

On passing his matriculation exam, he applied for and secured a job in the North Western Railways for a princely sum of Rs. 12 per month. The year was 1928, and the young man was now a strapping 20-year-old. At the time, he may not have known that 40 years later, he would retire from the services of that same organization, at the ripe old age of 60.

But, many interesting chapters were to unfold in the story of his life, between then and now…

In 1942, Mahatma Gandhi championed the “Quit India” movement, calling upon all Indians in government jobs to resign from their service, in protest of the British Rule. Naturally, he tried to resign too. But, the Railways would not hear of it. “What’s the problem?”, they asked. “Medical reasons”, he answered. “Take as much leave as you’d like, and come back when you’re ready”, they offered!

Wherever he went, people seemed to follow him like a Pied Piper!!!

And so, he took a couple of months off to collect his thoughts, and seek guidance from his spiritual guru at the Halani Darbar Sahib. He was a dedicated follower of the gurus at the Darbar Sahib, and had the good fortune to know several of them in his lifetime. Every major decision he took, he did with the guidance of the spiritual leaders. Every time he wavered in his mind, he sought their advice. Every thing good that ever happened, was thanks to their blessings. His devotion to the higher power was absolute.

Some months later, on the advice of his guru, he re-joined service in the Railways where he would serve until his retirement. But, work at the office was not all there was to his life. Few people may know this, but he was very fond of horse races and playing cards, especially rummy. He made a decent packet thanks to these “hobbies”, whenever he had time to spare.

Legend has it that he was also an excellent cook, particularly of non-vegetarian dishes. At any point in time, there were more than seven women in the house, but his dishes always turned out to be the most scrumptuous!

Last but not the least, he also managed to publish four books in Sindhi. His first published work was borne out of his dedication to preserving the cultural heritage of the Sindhi people – it was a collection of old Sindhi folklore compiled from memory and from vintage gramophone records. In fact, his allegiance to the Sindhi culture and heritage was so strong that he even composed some bhajans, one of which is sung even today as part of the daily rituals of the Halani Darbar Sahib at Ajmer.

Many years later, his eldest son would further the cause, spending all his spare time in the service of the Indian Institute of Sindhology.

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In spite of all the hardships, he seemed to have lived a full life – one rich in experiences, if not wealth. When I think about it all, it seems unfortunate that I did not get the opportunity to get to know him earlier.

His name was Roopchand Merani. He was my maternal grandfather. And, if he were alive, this 15th of March 2008 he would be a hundred years old!

P.S. Thanks, Kishin mama, for all the information. This is perhaps the closest I will ever get to knowing any of my grandparents!

P.P.S. Roopchand was son of Moolchand Daryanomal Merani from TharuShah. I also know next to nothing about my paternal (Bachwani) side. If you have any info, I’d love to hear…

My First Book!

The wife sent an sms: “The courier has come”.

I’d been ordering books home for a while now, and a courier delivery was not an uncommon occurrence.  But, this particular one was much awaited.  I’d anticipated its arrival for quite a few weeks, in fact.  And the entire process had taken nearly a year to come to this stage… The reason?  This was the delivery of a book authored by me!

Yes, after months of searching, I’d found a publisher for my first work!!!

Thanks to the platform provided by IfIWereABook.com, a few publishers had expressed interest in my manuscript.  And, with one of them – Sanbun – I’d managed to take this to completion.

It was in the making for a few months, after we’d first signed on the dotted line.  After all, there was proof reading and editing, designing the cover, finalizing the content, etc. etc. etc.  Unlike perhaps the works of Penguin or Harper Collins, in this case, I was pretty much doing all of it except the actual printing.

Finally, on 5th March 2008, the delivery was made.

This book reproduces many of my blog posts on the subject of “fatherhood”, in a book-friendly format.  It traces the journey of my experience as a parent, from my first child’s birth to the time she reached about three years of age.

It’s a slender little book, all of 48 pages.  It should be available in select stores in India, soon.  It’s priced at Rs. 100.  And, it’s got its own ISBN code! Of course, the royalty cheques haven’t started pouring yet.  But, it’s a start, isn’t it?

The publishers have promised to make it available to their distribution network, and send out some copies to a few wholesale buyers to guage the market potential.  If the initial response is enthusiastic, more print runs will follow…

And, as much as it fulfills my own dream of “publishing a book one day”, this little project is also a means for me to leave behind a little something for my daughter Pumpkin… The story of her life!  I only hope you enjoy reading it, as much I have enjoyed writing it.

Read More: Bundle of Joy

C’est La Vie

John Lennon once remarked, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  I, for one, couldn’t agree more.  For the last one year or so, this has been the story of my Life…

It all started in February of last year, when we were scheduled to go on our annual vacation.  That trip was of course, cancelled on account of my needing spinal decompression surgery for my prolapsed lumbar discs.  The weeks and months that followed, involved a slow and painful process of getting back on my feet again, which I was determined to do.

BossLady – my wife – was already pregnant with our second child, at the time.  We did not know, however, that only a few months later, we would be facing a difficult time with the pregnancy thanks to the increased probability seen in the triple marker test, warranting a risky procedure called amniocentesis to rule it out completely.  Just like we did not know that, a few months after that, the pregnancy would unfold yet another exciting chapter with an “incompetent os” that would need surgical intervention and complete bed rest for several months!

Finally, after an eventful term, a healthy baby boy was born to us in Oct 2007. Life was beginning to take a turn for the positive… Or was it?

A few months after that, Mom developed a sinus-bronchial infection that would take several months to treat, at the minimum.  According to the ENT specialist, we were lucky to have caught it in time!  The treatment had not yet been completed, but she was making good progress.  The baby was also a healthy four-month-old now.  So it would be a good time to take a much-needed holiday, we thought.

Once again, we planned our annual leave – this time to an exotic coffee estate in South India.  I’d applied for leave well in time, and planned for all my projects to be managed in my absence.  BossLady was already on leave, so that was not a problem.  A week before departure, however, she developed a fever – one that would go from 100 to 104 in just a few days!

I was actually out-of-town on an official trip and had to rush home to attend to that.  Naturally, the annual vacation was cancelled, once again.  In fact, an entire course of antibiotic and antimalarial medication hardly had any effect on the ailment.  A plethora of tests followed, but the fever remained undiagnosed.  Finally, a consulting specialist diagnosed it as Typhoid.

The hardest part of it all was communicating to an innocent four-year-old that we will not be going on the much-awaited vacation.  We always prepare Pumpkin for what’s coming, and had spent quite a few days building up hype for the upcoming trip.  Naturally, she was looking forward to the entire experience of going to a coffee estate, especially since she’s not even permitted to drink coffee!  Alas, her vacation would have to wait for another day…

Even today, 11 days after the first bout of fever, the recovery has only just begun.  She still gets a fever every 5-6 hours, but is slowly… very slowly… gaining back some of her strength.  A microorganism that’s one millionth our size is presently controlling how we live.  And, if what I understand is correct, typhoid is an ailment that can take 4-5 weeks to recover from.

We are, of course, hopeful of a full recovery.  And, can only hope that things take a different turn, this March onwards.  Only, I won’t be making any plans to that effect.