A big break: My Experiences with blogging published in a traditional medium- Newspaper

Blogging straight from the heartland

8 Jul 2007, 0003 hrs IST,Pallavi Srivastava,TNN

Did you know that chittha is Hindi for blog in internet jargon? Just as 'archive' is abhilekhagaar and 'home page' is mukh prishtha . When it comes to blogging, language clearly is not a barrier. Neither is the location of the blogger, it seems. And Vishwajaal (that's the Internet) is fast gaining a thriving community from the smaller cities and towns of India.

Shrish Benjwal Sharma, a 25-year-old mathematics teacher at Yamunanagar in Haryana, has over 100 regular visitors to his Hindi blog. "Hindi blogosphere is like a family," he says. "There is brotherhood and friendliness among us. We share our happiness and sorrows with each other."

Similar sentiments come from Ravishankar Shrivastava, a 48-year-old resident of Ratlam in Madhya Pradesh, who has been blogging for four years now. Shrivastava, one of the three bloggers in his town, is also one of the 500-odd Hindi bloggers currently active on the Net. He, in fact, maintains about a dozen blogs, of which three are updated regularly.

Gopal Aggarwal, a Jalandhar resident, has also hosted about 10 blogs during the last one-and-a-half years, of which three are active now. He gets almost 20 visitors every day. The blog, he says, boosts his ego.

Small-city existence is obviously no hurdle for these Net enthusiasts, despite facing daily problems like power cuts. A couple of years ago, BSNL started a low-cost broadband service that brought about an Internet revolution in some small cities. However, for many, like Santosh Mishra of Nagpur, it's still a daily struggle to reach cyberspace. "It's not easy to get a fast and reliable Internet connection in a non-metro, non-capital town," says Mishra, who has been blogging for two years now. "I stay in Nagpur city centre, but am still waiting for a broadband connection," he adds.

Dial-up connections, of course, tend to be slow and tedious. But there is another handy access point that many users opt for now - GPRS-enabled cell phones. That's what Kolhapur-based Navin Tiwari usually uses to get online. Tiwari, 29, who studied at Choubey Chhapra village in Ballia and then in Moradabad district of Uttar Pradesh, now spends over three hours every day at his laptop at home. His blog, started over a month ago, comprises self-written Hindi poetry.

Poetry and reflective essays are, for that matter, quite a popular choice among all bloggers. But like most of them, small-town members of the community also delve into a variety of other topics, ranging from politics and local news to satire and technology. Both Sharma and Shrivastava host chitthas on technology, and offer online solutions to surfers about Hindi blogging and Indic computing. The latter's repertoire also includes Hindi literature and cartoons.

Toon posts are, in fact, the ones that almost certainly invite impromptu comments from surfers. Mishra's blog, which consists of cartoons pertaining to the latest news, shows quite a few comments from surfers. Mishra, ("born, brought up and studied at Lohna, a remote village in Madhubani, Bihar. Arrived at Nagpur via Kolkata using meter gauge") regularly updates his site with a brief news item accompanied by a cartoon drawn by him. "My cartoons are both persuasive and punitive," he says. "The immediate response may be a chuckle or laughter, but the impact lasts longer."

As immediate but less long-lasting response is received by Aggarwal's blog on sms-es, which gets two-three contributions a week from complete strangers. "Since I set up a family-safe site, which even our younger siblings can access, I get a lot of positive response from surfers," says the 22-year-old.

Such blogs are clearly ending the feeling of a lack of voice that non-metro dwellers would have felt some time ago. "Traditional media these days is dominated by celebrities. But in blogosphere, any individual can achieve that status," points out Aggarwal. "I might die. But my blog will survive."

Copyright © 2007 Times Internet Limited.
Original copy at http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/2185160.cms