In 1998 I moved to New York to pursue my Masters in Urban Design at the Pratt Institute. Life has never been the same since. School started and days flew by. Everyday I got to know something new. I met a fellow Indian, Shiju, who studied undergraduate architecture, and he asked me if I knew this desi kid from Dubai who was also at Pratt. I said nah ! Well, that very weekend I get to meet him. This kid turns out to be Rahul Bhatia [aka GreenChannel].
Over the next 3 years we bump into each other with regularity at Indian parties and hang out together. In the first years, a saturday afternoon ritual developed which included both of us and a few others. Basically anyone who wanted to join in. A trip to Jackson Heights for the all you can eat indian buffet. This was to satiate our craving for Indian food…and be financially viable…students that we were.
Bhatia….as we all called him was the only undergrad desi in our group then. Of course he did become the butt of many a joke, but he was one of the most sporting guy I ever have known. He was also known for his fanaticism about cricket. He is the only person I know, who subscribed to SPORTSINDIA and got it shipped Air Mail to New York.
After graduation, he worked here a bit and then moved back to Bombay. We lost touch most of the time, except for a little hi, hello, wassup over MSN from time to time.
I would read his articles on Wisden Cricinfo, at first not believing that the “Bhatia” I knew, was such a good writer, and famous at that. Then I came across his blog, and through his blog, a lot of other Indian blogs.
And today, on my daily rounds of desi blogs, I read with sadness that he will not be blogging anymore.
“Before last December I had written very little, so this blog helped me catch up, and proved to be an emotional crutch as well without getting into the ‘dear diary’ kind of writing. It also helped discover limitations, eg: Ability to write about roads and driver behavior: good. Ability to analyse merits of libertarianism over lefty ideology: bad. (So bad that I’ve probably got that bit wrong as well.)
But while it has been fun, I reckon it’s time to say bye and get down and write for a living. Like anybody out there who can hold a pencil, I’d like to write a book someday. And travel, and sleep well, and never worry about money. So it’s time I got started.
Goodbye. And see you soon.”
As someone who has been following his blog regularly, this is a sad moment. His style of writing is amazing, and his quality of bringing out the most interesting of scenarios from the most mundane of situations is truly inspiring.
Rahul, even though you say Good Bye, I see a glimmer of hope, as you leave the door a bit open when you say see you soon.
As a reaction to your good bye, I am reminded of the words of Vijay Merchant (???) years ago on his Sunday afternoon radio show. Every time he ended the show, he said “Au Revoir” and never good bye.
…So my friend…Au Revoir…”till we meet again”