Today, I am more regularly in touch with friends I made through blogging, than with my "other" friends. Each time someone asks me how I know such and such a person, I say, "blog friend" and smile. Five years ago, I had college friends, school friends, colony friends, and now a new category has crept in - blog friends.
When and how do blog friends turn into real friends? It is not really after a face to face meeting. But somewhere down the line, a blogger stops being just someone and starts being a friend.
But meeting face to face does help immensely. And so here is an account of the people I have met through blogging.
The first group of blog friends I met in person are what we call the Mukta Balaga. I once stumbled upon a post speaking about the then running Kannada serial Mukta, and I made a comment on it. I came back to see further discussion, and joined, and before I knew it, I had got drawn into a major discussion on the blog. about what? Everything, but mostly something connected to Mukta. Scores of discussions and daily updates later, the conversation moved on to literature, music, spirituality, politics, and just life in general. Out of the discussions and numerous commenters and more than 5000 comments (yes!) emerged a handful of us likeminded people, and we formed a yahoo group and continued our conversations there. Next, obviously, we had to meet, and the first meet had a bonus attached to it - one of them brought along TN Seetaram himself, the very popular maker of the serial Mukta. A leisurely chat over coffee at Kamat Bugle Rock followed, with the tab being picked up by the generous man. We moved on. We meet regularly, in big groups or small groups or individually, on some pretext or no pretext at all. And when someone asks me how I know such and such a person, it takes me a minute to realize that it is only through blogs that I know them!
The next blogger friend I met was Chitra, who worked in the company next to mine. We met once during office hours, and started chatting on even personal matters as if we knew each other all along - and our friendship has only grown over the past couple of years.
In March, I met the ageless Usha, whose blog is one of my favourites. I already felt like I have known her for years, and meeting the wonderful lady was just like moving to the next level. I met her at a Film Festival which was organized by Abhipraya, another inspiring person, someone I knew only slightly. And though I know her real name very well, all I could do was say, "Hi Abhipraya, bye Abhipraya, I enjoyed myself Abhipraya." It was impossible for me to address her by her real name. So much for blog identities!
And now, over the weekend, I met Poppin's Mom and her adorable daughter, who else, Poppin. I had corresponded with Poppin's mom a bit, and meeting her in person was something I was looking forward to. She is very easy to talk to, and being with her was as comfortable as her blog makes one feel!
Like the icing on the cake, yesterday I met Anitha, whom I have greatly admired through the years. But somehow we have never been able to meet. I finally did meet her and her ebullient, affectionate little daughter, charm oozing out of every pore. Anitha is as sweet and mature a person as her mails made her out to be - and I am still on a high, having met her.
There are many more I would like to meet, and then there are a few bloggers I cannot believe I haven't met in person.
Oooh I love this way of making friends, especially at this age where I realize that making friends gets progressively more difficult due to lack of time, prejudices and plain non-effort.
Bring on the next round of bloggers! When shall we meet? :)