Jivha's is perhaps the best known name in the Indian Blogosphere. There wouldn't be many Indian Blogs that do not have him on their blogroll and there mustn't be many either who never ever commented on his post or trackbacked him. Jivha emerged as the deserving "IndiBlog of the year 2003" and we thought it was time we shed some light on the enshrouded but effervescent Indiblogger. And what could have been a better spectacle than Melodrama, who also sponsored the prize for the winner of this category along with Meena, asking the questions. Here we go:
M: Since when have you been blogging (for those who wouldn't bother checking your archives)?
Jivha: February 2003. Started as jivha.blogspot.com and moved over to jivha.com in July 2003.
M: How did you hit upon the pseudonym 'Jivha' and how is it representative of your blog?
Jivha: Jivha, means 'tongue' in Pali (Buddhist).
When I was starting a blog back in February 2003, I wanted a name that would be Indian in origin, and would mean something relevant to me. A mythological story that I had read in my childhood came to mind. In the story the royal barber went by the name of 'Jivha' and was recruited by some opponents of the king to cut the king's throat while shaving his beard the next day. The barber meekly agreed to do so.
The next day when the barber was sharpening his blade ('ustara') in preparation of the dire deed, the king starts humming a song which somewhat went "you move left, you move right, o jivha I know what's on your mind!" Hearing this the barber falls at the king's feet asking for forgiveness and blames his opponents for coercing him. Of course he never knew that the king was just referring to a 'tongue' in the song, and not to the barber!
And that is how the word 'Jivha' came to mind. I started my original blog at Blog*Spot. When I decided to move on to my own domain and Movable Type, I decided to use the same name. This time I reverse-justified the name 'Jivha' to something more than just a long-lost story.
The concept of the tongue fitted very well with the loose, off-the-cuff and direct commentaries that I'd been making on most of my posts. And that is why my blog became simply, 'Jivha - the Tongue'.
M: What do you think of Indian blogs and do you think anything has changed since you started blogging?
Jivha: Although nowhere near the quality and range of US blogs, I think we're more than making up for the lead that the US had in this regard. There are newer sites coming up which make compelling reads and the Indian blogosphere today is almost unrecognizable to it's year-old past.
M: Do you think Indian blogs are representative of India or the average Indian?
Jivha: Um, no. In fact I wouldn't even say that they're representative of an urban average India too. They're representative of probably 5% of the population of the top urban cities.
M: What do you think of any blogging awards, and could you please be honest?
Jivha: Frankly, not much. Because (a) I don't understand what purpose they serve, and (b) I think it's pretty darn easy to 'rig' an award...then where's the point?
M: Is there a mission to your blogging and what motivates you to continue with it?
Jivha: I like writing, I like arguing, I like taking stands. My blog allows me to do all. Besides, in my own small way I try and influence atleast a few people about reality the way 'I' see it :-)
M: Do you think your blog has affected anyone positively or negatively and do you think blogs influence, like TV or radio?
Jivha: Positively. My knowledge of world affairs has increased since I started blogging/reading other blogs.
M: Have you induced anyone to blog? Did your efforts bear any fruit and is the person still blogging?
Jivha: Um, yes. Atleast a couple of friends and even a couple of people I never knew earlier. Some are continuing, some aren't. Not enough data to make a conclusion yet ;-)
M: Do you plan beforehand the topics you blog about? How do you handle criticism of your posts?
Jivha: Plan? Unless you call remembering what I read in the newspapers on the way to office as 'planning', then no. Google News, my daily newspapers and other blogs remain the 3 sources of posts for me.
How do I handle criticism? By arguing back if the criticism is valid/well structured, or by co-opting the criticism if it's illogical and troll-ish (my byline is made up of 'names' people have called me in the Indian blogosphere).
M: We have noticed a distinct political tone to a lot of your posts, so, are you trying to be a political blogger?
Jivha: Two things, (i) I wouldn't want to slot myself, (ii) you're assuming I'm not one already ;-)
M: Do you think only a certain kind of individual blogs or have you noticed people with very different personalities blogging?
Jivha: I've noticed about as decent a range of personalities in bloggers as you would notice amongst colleagues at your workplace. That's a fair sample, no?
M: We also noticed that you tried a bloggers meet sometime back. How did it go and what were your experiences meeting bloggers the first time? Would you organize such a meet again?
Jivha: Asli and Mahesh Shatanaram did land up. A couple of people weren't well, some people misread the timings...overall I wasn't disappointed as me and Asli did chill out over beer after the fiasco ;-) And yeah, you're not catching me organizing anything again. A defunct book-reading club and blogger's meet are 'two' much for me ;-)
M: What are you views on bloggers' aligning themselves like 'Indian blogring', 'blogging bitches', 'blogging for bush' etc.?
Jivha: Not much. I don't like slotting myself into pre-ordained categories. Plus webrings strike me as pretty dorky (don't ask me why!).
M: How does one make one's blog work-safe?
Jivha: Simple. Give your blog URL to your Mom, Dad, Sister, Brother amd Girlfriend. No one'll have enough b***s to write anything even remotely un-work-safe after that!
M: Who would you dedicate this (best Indiblog) win to? (Wait let us all jam our ears and shut our eyes, we fear a jivhaesque outpouring.)
Jivha: Who else but myself?
M: Are you planning to donate the prize (Tantra tee shirt) or to enjoy the fruits of your success? If yes, who would you donate the shirt off your back to?
Jivha: No. I wanna show the tee-shirt(s) to my would-be-better-half as proof that blogs are not 100% pointless ;-)
M: Who is your favourite blogger? (If you say its me, I might even be induced to enhance the prize to say a autographed tantra tee. Teehee!)
M: If we see Jivha on the streets how could we identify him?
Jivha: Considering that your tongue is on the street, I think it would be a fair assumption that so would be the rest of your face, and body. I think you should call an ambulance as most people who get run over on the street do tend to need one.
M: This is for all the lovely young ladies who have a secret crush on you and are waiting to stalk you, what exactly did you say your address was?
Jivha: Ahhh, be still my beating heart! Can you please ask those 'lovely young ladies' to mail me for further directions :-)
M: And finally, do you have any message for new bloggers? Stop, we didn't mean to unleash so much verbal diarrhea, stop! Stop! STOP! Yeahhhhhh.......
Jivha: Just two words - 'post frequently'.