Photobucket had recently made a very dick move by disabling all third-party embedded pics unless I pay $399. I've been blogging for 13 years and have 2000+ embedded pics across 650+ blog posts, which are now all unviewable. I'm working on moving my images to a new host, so until then, please do bear with me if you cannot view any images on my older blog posts.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Chp 283. Writing "Exclusive" Articles for a Global Audience


A couple of friends asked me if I'm going to blog about the recent Mizo Picnic on Republic Day here in Mumbai. Of course I am. But due to extremely heavy workload this month, I can barely find the time to sail around the blogosphere.

Hence I will definitely update my blog about that wonderful picnic in the next couple of days.

But as I was pondering on that memorable day, a thought flashed by. How does one write about events like that on their blog anyway?

Of course I am not talking about writing a football post or gothic metal post. Those are “interests” and only those who are passionate about those particular subjects will find the post interesting. By exclusive topics, I mean topics that are community-centric and not based on one’s passion, where it is difficult for others who do not belong to a particular community to read a blog that revolves around that particular community.

Although blogging is all about freestyling where you can write about anything in any way you want, if you want to be a little bit more serious about what you blog, then there are certain things to keep in mind.

Most important of all, know your audience. Based on that, you can write “exclusive” events like this Mizo Picnic in three different styles.


1. The “dear diary” style.

You write about the Mizo picnic as if you are addressing only one person. You talk about a friend or an incident during the picnic without much explanation or elaboration. You take it for granted that the people who read your blog all know who or what you are talking about. This style makes sense if you are writing only for a Mizo crowd (or to be more precise, Mizos who are in Mumbai). The post will also contain a lot of frying or personal jokes, using nicknames that only you and the intended audience understand. In this style, you build great rapport with your Mizo visitors, but unfortunately, non-Mizos will tend to shy away.


2. The “Me, myself and I” method.

In this style, you use a lot of first-person singular personal pronoun. The overall tone and theme of your blog post is about how you see the picnic through your own eyes. You write about all the things you did and how much you enjoyed doing that or eating this. Although some of your blog visitors may derive pleasure from seeing the entire picnic through your eyes (at a very personal and intimate level), you also stand a chance of leaving out important events about the picnic that you did not participate in or was not aware of.


3. The “Universal” writer.

Most columnists write in this manner. This is the opposite of the “dear diary” style mentioned above. The way you write has to appeal to everybody across all sections. Of course your topic may appeal to a certain crowd, but you have to write in such a way that people in that particular segment reading your blog are not left in the lurch because they do not understand a certain personal joke or metaphor. You have to write as general as possible, and this is guaranteed to increase the number of visitors to your blog (in terms of diversity).


There are other ways of writing too, but I don’t want to drag this post.

From the above three styles, there is no “best method”. That’s the beauty about blogging. You can use your own style and fly free. Writing “globally” about Mizo events may get you a lot of audience from different locations, but that means you will have to explain certain traditions or translate a few words so that your audience can comprehend easily. This will of course be boring for people (Mizos) who are already familiar with such terms and traditions.

You can also mix styles in any way you want.

Hence that is why you must know your audience and write for a particular target. Expand your options and be completely versatile. It may not make you popular or help you sign a record deal with renowned publication houses, but it will definitely improve the way you write and help you see things clearer.

And the best part about blogging? Hey, it’s your own blog. You can write what you want, how you want, where you want. Even if you make mistakes, you do not have to stay back in class after school and write on the blackboard a hundred times, “I shall be not making grammatical or lexical mistaken upon my blog”.

But always try to listen to criticism.

Cheers.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Chp 282. “Lights, camera, action” with CNN IBN


Look ma, I’m on national television!


CNN IBN YNOT homepage featuring Kima

As some of you may know, my previous post “Welcoming 2010 with vision 2020” was featured on CNN IBN’s weekly youth program called YNOT (click the above pic to go to their site).

Below is the video clip that appeared on the news channel.

I must warn you before viewing, that a typical North Eastern blogger (or any blogger for that matter) does not go around with a laptop in his hand and blogging at roadside tea-stalls next to train stations during morning rush hour My action in this video is purely for depiction purpose only



Urmi Sahni, producer – correspondent for CNN IBN was in charge of the entire shoot, and her team did an outstanding job with the video camera and editing (She’s also one of the sweetest newsperson I’ve ever met).

The day started at 6:30am. I was at Bandra Fort by 7:30 and the shooting began, with a sunrise silhouette shot right next to the magnificent towering Bandra Worli sealink. The intro about me from the video was shot when the sun was in my eyes, so it was quite difficult opening them (my eyes).

We did a lot of on-the-spot improvisation regarding the script too.

After a couple of shots at the fort and at bandstand, we moved to lower parel station. It was quite embarrassing doing a shoot there with everybody staring at me or wanting to be in the film once they realized there was a video camera present. We did a lot of retakes, and by 2pm I was completely exhausted (7 hours of video shoot for a 2 minute clip!)

We then moved to their studio (Network-18 HQ) where we spent some more time recording my voice at their audio studio. Their office was amazing, and there were LCD screens plastered all around the walls, broadcasting one news channel or the other. I even saw their news broadcast room.

Finally reached my office by 5pm, but not before making a pit-stop at KFC. All in all, it was an exhausting day, but more importantly, a great experience. CNN IBN, you truly rock!


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Ps. Had to add this: While we were shooting at Bandra Fort, some well dressed family (probably out on their morning walk) came near us, laughed, pointed at me and said, “Hey look, foreigners are making a movie”. And my story was about how we’re called foreigners in our own country. Define irony.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Chp 281. Welcoming 2010 with vision 2020


To come up with a famous quotation, you got to be famous first
But to have a great dream, you do not need to be anybody great. It is your prerogative to dream passionately about anything that makes you tick.

From Martin Luther King Jr. to a 5 year old wishing her folks would stop shouting at each other, we all have our dreams about a better future. Some are short-termed while others require years. Some are tangible while others are about satisfaction. Some may be altruistic while others are quite self-centric. Then there are those unrealistic dreams too, but nevertheless, we keep dreaming.

With the dawn of a new tomorrow this year, instead of making any New Year resolutions (which we never seem to keep anyway), I’d like to dream instead. A dream that can definitely come true in the next 10 years, if we all put in a little effort.

Sure, it feels great dreaming about riches and glory, or maybe about becoming a big rockstar and living in hilltop houses driving fifteen cars. But the ultimate dream for me is to see that by 2020, people from the North East are not only recognized as Indians, but treated as one.

Mind you, I’m not talking about racism here. That’s a different topic, although they may cross path here and there. But this dream is more about identity. Racism is ugly of course, and a bit more complex to decipher, but there is a thin line between being a bigot and being ignorant.

I dream that in the next 10 years people of so called “mongoloid” race who are citizens of India, are no longer jeered at as Chinese, Nepalis, or any other foreign nationalities. I dream that people at least know the names of the North Eastern states, even if they’ve never been there or met anybody from those places.

I work at an Ad agency here in Mumbai. One day we met a client from a reputed firm. She’s a very senior manager and I asked her if the mailers we’re going to design for them would go to all their employees in India. When she said yes, I told her my friends in Mizoram were working for the same company (their Aizawl branch) and asked whether they too would receive my mailers. She asked me nonchalantly if Mizoram was a part of India or not, quickly followed by the instruction that it would go only to their employees in India, and not “overseas”.

Imagine, a senior manager (probably from a reputed B-School) working at one of India’s top Banks… Likewise, we have faced similar questions from various people every day. Where is Mizoram? Is it a part of China? What currency do we use? etc etc.

Baichung Bhutia did us a big favor by promoting the North East to the rest of India. Now there are more and more football players from the North East playing in the I-League, India’s top-flight football league. The recent Finals between East Bengal and Lajong FC saw a large number of North Eastern players on both sides.

Similarly, if I walk into any Rock/Metal concert in India where local artists are performing, people everywhere recognizes me as somebody from India’s North East. I get questions like “Are you from Nagaland or Mizoram or Manipur?” immediately. No questions about China, Japan etc. That’s why I love such crowd and places.

But unfortunately, all that is restricted only to the few hardcore football and (rock) music enthusiasts here in India. The rest of India still do not know about us, even though we’ve been a part of the Indian Union since independence. A few sectors like the hospitality industry and BPOs too have their fair share of North Eastern employees now, but again, that has a very limited exposure.

Kolkata is another place I love, in spite of the heat, humidity, pollution and traffic. And the reason being - that place is the only place in India where people do not stare at us and make us feel uncomfortable, because they’re so used to our kind of faces. My dream is to see that by 2020, that happens to the rest of India too. We definitely do not want to be treated as aliens in our own country.

People often counter-argue that the fault does not lie with other people, because after all, “we do look like Chinese”. Sure that contention may sound reasonable to many “educated” individuals. Well, we should also remember that many Indians too look like Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Afghanis, Israelis, half the Arab world, Malaysians and so on. Nobody calls them by those nationalities.

By 2020, I want to see people from the North East becoming Bollywood or Tollywood superstars! I want to see them play the main roles in big budget films, and I want to see them play the role of Indians, and not any Nepali or Chinese or Japanese role.

10 years ago, when Mizo sportspersons (yours truly included) used to appear on the newspapers for scoring that goal or shooting that many baskets, none of the papers used to get our names right. But now things have changed and I want such change to continue. By 2020, I want the rest of India to know our names properly (and without raising an eyebrow when we introduce ourselves).

By 2020, I want everybody to know about our existence. The fault lies with the government and educational system. Our school history and geography books hardly mention anything about us or our culture. Hence, young Indians everywhere are brought up with the notion that the North East is worth 10 marks on their exam paper.

I want to see our young children all over this great nation, grow up in school learning as much as they can about the North East, and how people from such places “look different” from the rest of India. That is my dream. A new India where children are armed with the powerful knowledge of the North East. After all, these children are our future and only hope. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru envisioned this years ago. We can’t we?

10 years. Just 10 years. That small innocent child studying in class 3 somewhere in Mumbai or Chennai or Lakhimpur would have completed her school education in 10 years. By 2020 she would go to college, devoid of any ignorance about the North East. How wonderful that would be, when she welcomes her new North Eastern college classmates and makes them feel right at home!

With recognition, we can have better development, infrastructure and investment in the North East. In 10 years, all this bigotry and hate and ignorance can be eradicated, and that is when my dream will finally come true. An Indian utopia. Vision 2020.