Have had a couple of very nice blogger meets in the past week - actually, not so much blogger meets (since that makes me think of the star-studded get-togethers that occur regularly in Mumbai) as meetings with individual bloggers. First, Aishwarya of Kaleidoglide expressed an urgent wish to borrow my copy of Pamuk’s Istanbul, having just returned from Turkey herself. At the PVR Barista we spoke, among other things, about: college students who walk into libraries and go "So this is where you get the books and stuff!"; mothers who give up on reading My Name is Red because the first chapter is narrated by a corpse, and how can that be; and people who say their favourite novel is The Fountainhead and describe it as "a book about an architect who believes only in straight lines". Also, the recent currency change in Turkey, which has made things even more confusing for tourists and shopkeepers. And whether studying in LSR is a sure sign that you’re a feminist (Aishwarya says no, too much rah-rahing of a cause tends to put her off it).
Then, evening before last, I met Shailaja Neelakantan and Jason Overdorf, who run DelhiBelly and whose life as freelancers means they can send messages saying things like "It’s Monday morning, so we thought we’d see a couple of movies." (In full-disclosure spirit, it was also July 4, which meant a light day for them - much of their work being done for American publications.) The noise levels at the pub we were in (here’s Jason’s post on Delhi bar etiquette by the way) forced us to move to another one in the same market, which was much better. Three drinks later a marathon bitching session happened - much raging about other journalists, exchanging inside gossip, lamenting the amount of junk that gets published as "Indian writing in English". Also discussed Susannah Clarke, Philip Pullman, Neil Gaiman … and, err, Rupa Gulab.
Incidentally, blogging hardly even came up at either of these meetings.
Good fun, like I said. Some of us have written before about how meeting longtime blog acquaintances for the first time usually isn’t awkward, because if you’ve been following a dedicated blogger’s posts on various topics over a period of time you feel like you know the person behind the screen; it isn’t like meeting someone you’ve only exchanged a few personal details with in a chatroom.
That said, I’d like to know a little more about the large blogger gatherings. How exactly do they work? I’m not sure I’d be too comfortable meeting a large group of bloggers all at once (meeting them all for the first time, that is). So how do you break the ice? Is a lot of time spent on introducing the people who aren’t familiar with each other’s blogs? Are the awkwardness levels very high to begin with? Does everyone feel the need to ramble on about blogging, and doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Amit, Yazad, Sonia, Chandrahas, elucidate please.