Saturday, December 26, 2009

Navel gazing, take one

It was a year ago today. I had dithered long, fearful of a new technology, uncertain whether I had anything noteworthy to say, doubtful whether anyone would care. It was Christmas. An unbecomingly warm day that seemed to invite me to try something different too. It was a year ago today. Brick and Rope was born.

I am far from short on shortcomings (ask my mom for a complete list, and then some). Lacking opinions isn't one of them. Which drove friends to often suggest that I should blog. Sounded sensible, in principle. Among the many troubles - about what? 'My musings on life, the universe and everything' sounded so pretentious, and self important. Why should my musings be of any interest to anyone else? And was I really sure it was a good idea to save said musings for posterity, to embarrass and mortify a future self or, horror of horrors, a grown-up daughter?

Ponderous as these questions were to the year-younger me, the biggest sticking point before I could start a blog was a theoretically simpler question - what would I call the blog? This question had occupied my mind for a good month before I actually started writing. It was early December. I was driving to pick up my daughter from her day care center this particular evening. On the radio, the host was discussing the latest hapless performance turned in by the Washington Redskins. Inviting an audience call into the show, he started with the innocuous question - "so, where are you from?" And I knew what my blog should be called.

My love of reading started in the little town of Itarsi, a town so small that for it to appear as more than a dot on Google Maps, you have to go to a zoom level of 1 km. In this small town in Hindi heartland, I discovered out-of-the-way book vendors, acquaintances that had no further need for their books, a thinly compiled school library ... all invaluable sources that could feed my love for books. A friend from that time reminded me recently of how I would sit in my classroom with a book held open under the table, to read when the teacher's eyes were elsewhere. This was where it had all started for me. Any book blog I started need to pay homage to this town, zoom level of 1 km and all. Itarsi - an amalgam of two Hindi words - Ita (brick, of which there were many kilns still around where I grew up) and rassi (rope, which I was told was the other mainstay of the local economy in times past).

Brick and Rope.

My first post was a review of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book The Black Swan. I was inordinately proud of the review, and still am. It might all have ended there though, had it not been for Smoke + Mirrors and Lost-in-Translation (who later changed pen name of choice). These two readers were the first to let me know it was working. The first real 'readers' Brick and Rope had. They gave me the confidence that I could do this. People wouldn't mind reading this. I am grateful, you guys.

Here I am then, a year later. A congruously white Christmas outside. 88 posts old. With many more gracious and kind readers. Here I am. Navel gazing. Embarrassed by the self-indulgence, but too proud to stop. Happy birthday Brick and Rope.


  1. congrats ! for some reason i always thought that brick & rope came from the old hindi saying - " rasri avat jaat se sil par parat nisaan " - well it had referance to both a rope & a brick u see :)

  2. Yay! Yay! I'm in your post. I'm acknowledged in your post. Ego kicks delivered...thank you thank you.


  3. Happy Birthday !

  4. interesting. i didn't know the itarsi connection. so how many books were you able to read in the last one year - any ball park figure?

  5. @Random Worker: Ended at close to 45 for the year. So pretty good year. Hope 2010 turns out to be as good.

  6. JS,

    Am an admirer of Brick and Rope. The range you cover and your style of writing - very impressive. I don't think I'll get around to reading most of what you cover here, but this is like living vicariously :) Here's to more reading and more writing!

    - someone whom you knew once upon a time!

  7. your blogs are simply amazing and i am glad this was the first blog i read ..
    I like reading too not to such extent that i reach a bench mark of 45 in a year but assured i always have some book arround me..
    Your blog gives me a great list of "To Read"
    Good luck with all your upcoming blogs