September 1, 2015

Musings: How Life Got Better Since 2013

COUP d’EAST

Back in 2013 when I wrote a year review I had mentioned how things had become ten times better when I’d discovered the world of blogging. There was this site called Write Up Café (which I am not too sure exists right now or not). Anyway – they decided to have a competition among the Indian bloggers by dividing them up into North, South, East, and West Zones. And we were a part of a larger group of bloggers who represented the east zone. Hence the name, Coup d’East. ( I forget who came up with the name. But we’d all voted and this name stuck.)

I used to not like talking to strangers and was not very comfortable with having to talk to people over the internet on a daily basis. To make matters worse, I got an eye infection right before the real competition started. Of course our points of contact, Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay and Sudeshna Thakurta, was not impressed by the lack of enthusiasm from other members. I still remember the scolding we got. And I still remember writing the first messages to them both explaining my silence.

With Debi Di & Diptee Di 
Little did I know that later on, Debi di (as I call Debdatta Dasgupta Sahay) would go on to become my go-to person for book recommendations, book promotion, fellow YA fiction lover, John Green fan as well as the woman who inspired me to take up Tarot card reading. She has also oscillated between teaching me how to bake to inspiring me to get myself an OTG and take up cooking seriously. She and I went pandal hopping last Pujas. I already adored her and that meeting made me love her even more. I’d gone to watch the screen adaptation of The Maze Runner with her before that. It was the first time I’d ever met her.

She would share little anecdotes of her life with us; and I always admired how she speaks her mind. It’s nice to see someone call spade a spade and when I’d voiced that I wanted to be exactly like her – someone close to her and remarked, “I want to see this girl. She must be mad to even consider becoming like you!” Debdatta di runs the extremely popular book blog, b00kr3vi3ws, and she’d helped me understand the Indian English book market when I had been working on my thesis earlier this year.

I guess Debi di’s being of my sister’s age makes it easier for me to talk to her about things and share weird stuff about my life. We both share a love for books and a love for taking up different hobbies.

Before I met Debi di or interacted with her so closely, I’d become friends with Diptee di (yes – Diptee Raut of Dip-Tea Blogs Here). I had not noticed that Diptee di was married and had an adorable little boy called Ri. Since I’d not added her on my Facebook friend list; all I could see was the thumbnail of the profile picture she used. I was convinced she was either of my age or younger. When I began interacting with her (much after the competition was over), she laughed hearing my presumptions.

With Diptee Di, on her birthday in 2014 
She was my adviser on life. She taught me to believe in myself and she convinced me that life is a very happy thing. I met her randomly in November 2013 and after which, I have kept on meeting her on and off. She inspired me to take up sewing and she’s never out of a kind word or some encouragement. Diptee di taught me how to tap into my potential; and made me discover a love for coffee I never knew I had. I guess her comments are one of the few reasons I did not give up on blogging. Yet.

After I met Diptee di, I found a very annoyed message from Abhishek da. (Yes, yes. This is the same Abhishek Mukherjee BongPen kept on mentioning during his meet on last Saturday. You can find his blog here. By the way the picture he has of him on his blog's banner, I'd clicked that. I thought I'd mention it since it has no picture courtesy.) Abhishek da wrote to both me and Diptee di, claiming he’s offended that I chose to meet her and not him. And since she’d not included him in our little meeting; he’d meet me and exclude her. I found that highly amusing.

I loved meeting Abhishek da (even though he turned up nearly 20 minutes after the set time and introduced himself as ‘Hi – I am Abhishek,’ with his hand outstretched even before he reached me. I discovered later on that he also has the knack for noticing the weirdest things: like woman who wear sneakers without socks. *sigh*) In the beginning of 2014, he decided that Kolkata was just not good enough and he went off to Bombay. (His new city made me fall extremely sick within two days of visiting the place by the way. And yes, I called Bombay his city on purpose. It makes him pretty mad. I am evil like that. *evil grin*)

With Diptee Di & Deeptiman 
Even though I met Priyanka di (Priyanka Roy Banerjee of One And A Half Minutes) much later than Abhishek da or Diptee di or Debi di, it was her that I began talking to over the internet first. I got into the habit of writing long emails to her, asking her for advice, and she was the first person who realized I was not very happy at the beginning to 2013. She slowly began to steer me towards realizing relationships ending does not mean that your whole world is going to come crashing down. There is always more to life. She discovered I’d a debut novel and asked if she could read it. 

It was from her and Debi di that I discovered what book blogs actually do and how much they help in promoting a title in the Indian Market these days.

Oh. Do pre-order First Brush with Canvas. It has stories by Diptee Raut and Abhishek Mukherjee. And it has been edited by Priyanka Roy Banerjee. I can personally vouch for their stories being gripping. If you read their blog posts, you’d know that they are amazing writers. Also – I am sure if you asked them; they’d sign your copies for you.

With Priyanka Di, Soumya, Abhishek Da, Diptee Di 
Even before I’d met any of these brilliant Didis and the one Dada, the first person I’d met from Coup d’East was someone who was exactly my age. Who wanted to go shopping because his sister was busy. And declared that I should look for a guy in a bright yellow t-shirt because no one would mind a girl staring at guys. But if he went looking for a girl in a purple; it would not be meted with equal happiness. *rolls eyes*

Before I spotted Deeptiman Chatterjee (yes, you guessed it. He’s the Shameless Blogger), there were two other guys in yellow. One too old to be him and one too short to be him. I should not have worried. The sheer brightness of his t-shirt would go on to be his landmark for the rest of us in Coup d’East. (Priyanka di insisted on wearing sun glasses the next time she’d have to see him in that bright tee.) Looking back I find that our first meeting was the strangest of them all. I guess it is not very comfortable meeting someone you’ve just spoken to over the blogosphere. But if our first meeting had been uncomfortable; the later ones had been fun to downright hilarious. From last minute movie plans (I actually sat through 2 States and had to listen to DC complaining about Arjun Kapoor’s character not wearing the Mickey Mouse underwear – apparently the highlight of Chetan Bhagat’s book) to walks down Gariahat, where I to listen to explanations of how a hot woman’s presence fills up the tables in a café.


WEIRDEST Picture EVER! With Deeptiman.

Diptee Di, Deeptiman and I would meet up pretty frequently. It was always a happy meeting. From Harry Potter (we’re all Potterheads) to what we planned to do with our lives and rarely about our blogs, we’d sit and talk. And eat. That was always the highlight of our meetings. The food. And the picture. Where all of us needed to look good.

I met Soumya Mukherjee too. He runs The Placid Rambler; and shocked him as he explained about the piano to someone when he overheard me telling Diptee di I’d use my pepper spray on the other person! Midway through saying piano, Soumya had gone – “Pia – huh, pepper spray?” We still laugh about the incident.

Soumya is the only exception in the Coup d’East circle who I’d mostly interacted with in the group messages. I do not remember how our individual message exchange started. It could have been because he played a beautiful piece and uploaded that to sound cloud, it could be because he wanted Diptee di’s postal address, or it could be because I love PJs and he usually sends me PJs whenever he comes across them. (If you remember the start of our friendship Soumya, please let me know.) Despite being younger than me, Soumya insists on calling me a very weird name. (I’ll put that in when Soumya tells me the correct spelling.) 

He did: Anieshumati. 

And he’s the one who keeps the group alive by his messages, updates on his life and generally starting the conversation out of the blue. Talking to Soumya instantly cheers one up. And if you happen to be in a bad mood; please check out the horrendous word plays he comes up with!!! 

I have to add one such example of the horrendous word play:
"Myopia ghar aaya, O ram ji
Myopia ghar aaya, i can't see."

With Apple 
I met Apple (Apala Sengupta) just once while on our way to Debi di’s house. And we rarely have interacted with each other except for in the group messages. But the little time I’d spent with her, she was warm and loving and we yapped the whole way. My college was near her home – but I did not know her when she was still in the city. But now that you’re reading TFIOS, I am sure we have plenty to talk about, Apple.

Sudeshna Thakurta (the girl who has deleted all of her social media presence) was one of the best writers I’d come across in a long time. I miss her calling me up and screeching “Didiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii” when I’d be working on something. She loves Pippo and is determined to be a good student. And in her book, in doing so, she would have to delete everything else in her life. I am waiting for her to finish her masters. But there was a time we’d spoken to each other over the phone till wee hours in the morning: me listening as she narrated insane little nuggets of experiences from her life.

Mohit Jain has mysteriously disappeared too. The one person who insists on talking in Hindi, even though I answer him in Bangla. Ours is a hilarious conversation. Somewhere between his work and my work, I do not get the chance to talk to him as much as I used to once upon a time. He used to write amazing couplets in Hindi. He would read them out to me in voice notes. I miss that now. But those were sweet memories.

The last member of Coup d’East is Sayantini Bhattacharya of Cherry on Top. We’ve barely interacted one-on-one, but we are similar in our love for our beloved pets. Most of the time our conversations revolve around pets. J She posts once in awhile to the group; and because she’s adopted a cute puppy named Zorro, she is bound to be busy right now.

The people I’ve mentioned as being part of Coup d’East group are people who I regularly interact with via Whatsapp and the Whatsapp group that we have. The only person who is not in that group but I had the good fortune to meet once was our Captain, Prashanth Ashok. He lives in Singapore and when I went to visit my sister last year, I met him too for a couple of hours in the evening.

With Prashanth. In Singapore, last year. 
I told him about the rest of you guys and he was amused. He was happy to know that despite our little journey of the competition ending; we had managed to hold on to each other and remain friends.

I do not blog regularly. But when I blog, I make sure my writing comes straight from the heart. That whatever I write would connect to my readers on a personal level. Because blogging gave me a little circle of friends who inspire me and make me want to grow into a better person every single day. It is easy to get acquainted with someone new, but it is a matter of will and luck which ensures that these new people slowly become your friends.

You guys are loved. And missed. And adored.
You made my life better.
I can only hope that I could make a change in yours too.

Lots of love, 
Aniesha.


10 comments:

  1. Aww...you are a darling, Aniesha! Yes, sometimes I run out of time, running after Zorro and sometimes I just feel like reading your messages without replying but I love you all!! There would be a complete emptiness without you guys around. I am proud of Coup d'East :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Replying to this so late. I finally met you and we have a picture together too. Time to update this post :))

      Delete
  2. Wowww! such a sweet write up!! I am more like what you were back in 2013... bad with words and interactions, initially, but once I am comfortable, no one can stop me from chatting away :P
    True, that we didnt get to talk and interact much, but I guess we should start working upon that, you are such a lovely girl, Aniesha! :) ebar pujo te abar hoye jak, ki bolish?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love you, kiddo :) Though we haven't met as many times as I'd have liked to, still, our addas were amazing. Especially this year at Au Bon Pain :P
    Hope to meet all of you in a grand get together. So long!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh My God. Love you so much! I know, it is a lovely little group and I am just so glad that we met.

    We will meet again, all of us. Together.

    ReplyDelete
  5. i just loved how i didn't want the post to end. So many memories, emotions. Thank you for writing this, Aniesha! :)

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for reading this blog post. Your comments are highly appreciated!