Sunday, April 01, 2012

Late to the Opening. Late to the Farewell

I was the sixth mutineer. Kind of like the fifth Beatle, except no one really cares about the sixth mutineer. I showed up late to the opening party, and late to the farewell. The bunker has shut. So, I’m taking this opportunity to dust off desiblog and posting this SM farewell here.

I never said goodbye, I kind of just faded away from Sepia Mutiny, and from blogging. With the site’s shutting down, I began to think back to how writing started for me. Like so many of our stories on the blog, it was the aftermath of the September 11 attacks that brought me to the e-page. I started off as a self-proclaimed editorialist at the short lived website the Satya Circle, pontificating as a barely 20-something on issues that resonated with me, and I thought would resonate with the desi diaspora during that time: foreign policy towards South Asia, immigration, the diaspora and our music/culture.

And then I learned about blogs and started my own. If it related to brown, I blogged about it. Panjabi MC, Check. Hip-Hop with Bollywood samples. Check. Some brown face on a commercial, in a music video, on a tv show or in the movies. Check. Bad (and sometimes good) desi writing. Check. Progressive brown political issues. Check.

Then in August 2004, after the DNC, Abhi left a comment on my blog and asked if I’d join the group blog he was starting with a few others. I was a regular reader of Manish’s blog, and knew Anna, and Abhi’s brother from my GW days, and said sure. I’m glad I did.

The best part, people were reading what we were writing, and commenting. We had started what would become an 8 year conversation. Now those conversations are happening, and most importantly, they are happening everywhere. In the beginning, I spent day and night scouring the web for content and trying to put my own spin on it. We all did. My work life sometimes clashed with topics I would have loved to write about, so I focused mostly on arts, music and culture. It didn't matter, I loved it. And then for me, life happened. I got engaged, married. work. I had a kid. I no longer made time to blog or write, sadly. I hope I can make that time again.

I can’t remember my first post or my last one. I do have some favorites, but what I remember most was the excitement of that time. The newness of all that was happening. When we started, there were very few prominent South Asians on television or in music, or working on Capitol Hill or the White House. We remained in the background, and every time something desi peaked through the curtain, I or Manish, or Abhi, or any of the mutineers clamored to include it on the blog.

If a commercial had a desi-angle, who could be the first to post it up? Was that a Panjabi MC song on an ER episode? Is Dr. Dre getting sued by Bappi Lahiri? Is Aishwarya Rai, aka TMBWITW, going to show Oprah how to wear a Sari? When we first started SM, these instances seemed few and far between. Today, I have no idea how anyone could cover them all.

Fast Forward to 2008 and the present. I can’t think of a television network that doesn’t air shows that include South Asians or a newspaper that doesn’t feature South Asian names on bylines. It’s still cool, but no longer as out-of-the-ordinary to see desi wedding announcements in the NYT. Two South Asian-Americans are being thrown around as possible Republican VP candidates, and one as a potential Supreme Court Justice.

When we started blogging, SM was one of the few prominent spaces that existed to make sure our diverse voices were heard. We are no longer quiet. We are no longer up-and-coming. We have arrived. And, in it’s own little way, Sepia Mutiny was one of those vehicles helping us get here.

Thanks Abhi, Manish, Ennis, Anna, and Vinod for having me. It was a blast.