Let me go on record saying that I do not worship the Great Bong with daily visits to his blog and leave behind offerings of salubrious, sycophantic, witty or engaging comments.
No. I'm not a groupie.
But I am a fan. And an earnest, honest one at that.
And so, when I heard that The Bongness was writing a book, I was full of eagerness and anticipation. And then, when I heard that The Bongness himself was going to be in town for the book launch, I did what any earnest, honest fan would do...I took my ample butt over there...an hour early.
So yes, this earnest, honest fan was sitting in row two, demurely waiting for an autograph -- not gushingly, cause that's what a groupie would do -- and waiting for His Bongness to address his sea of devotees, fans and family (lots of family, I might add; very sweet!)
The man is funny. And great. We all know that. That's why he's won so many Indiblogs, which, as we all know, is the Booker of Blogdom.
He's funny. Witty. And very genial. He's the guy you want to invite over to a home adda and make the centre of attraction; not that he needs anyone to make him the centre of attraction, he just is. He's a natural and comfortably, amiably so. You want him to regale you with all his stories, witticisms and hilarities. You want to bombard him with questions, but you don't for fear of interrupting his flow of talk and thereby, inadvertently missing out on any nuggets of humour and astute observations of this human condition called life -- and Bollywood, and politics and teenage, sexual awakenings in middle-class India.
After that most lively session at Crosswords, I came back and eagerly attacked his book, "May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss?" And my one-line review of it would be...hehehe-hahaha-hohoho-meh.
Ok, ok, now that all the stones and rotten eggs have been disposed of, may I come out from behind my laptop?
Look, I'm still a big fan and I always will be. He's a keen observer of randomness and a fantastic raconteur. I'm not saying I didn't like the book; I did, I did. Very much! Heck, I even loved it in parts and chortled out loud while in wide, open, unempty, public spaces.
Here's the thing; it was way too similar to his blog. In fact, it was kind of like a well-compiled, well-edited "Best of..." paper-back version of his blog. Not that he promised anything else, and not that I didn't know that, which is why I wasn't bitterly disappointed.
But here is where I would give more points to a Parul Sharma, author of "Bringing Up Vasu" and Sidin Vadukut, author of "Dork: The Incredible Adventures of Robin 'Einstein' Verghese". Yes, even Meenakshi Reddy Madhavan for her "You Are Here". All these authors are also writers of immensely popular and funny blogs. Yet, when it came to writing a book, that's exactly what they did. They didn't dip into their old faithfuls to rehash any of their published content. They stepped out of their comfort zones and rose to the challenge of telling a story, with a beginning, a middle and an end; complete with plot, drama, conflict and trademark styles of humour. Did traces of their blog surface every now and then? But of course! That would be impossible to steer clear of. But at the end of the day, the final product was entirely different from what their hoards of readers are used to.
So am I saying I am disappointed with Arnab? Not at all. Did I expect different? That would again be a 'no', simply because he didn't promise anything different. Do I still think he's great? Oh absolutely! He is the undisputed Great Bong. And finally, would I recommend his book to others? Highly.
It definitely "deserves your attention, pliss."