Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Butterflies and Bhaona

It is a cold day in England. Fanny has banked up the fire, made me a pint of hot Cheeky Vimto and rubbed Deep Heat into my extremities, but it is as though the grey sky and the needling rain have got inside my very bones. In this part of the world we have a saying, ‘Ne’er cast a clout ‘til May be out’, which, roughly translated, means “Don’t take your vest off ‘til June”. Or your longjohns, balaclava, earmuffs and mittens. When I discovered that today’s blogger comes all the way from India, I did not know whether the contrast in climate would be a torture or a tonic.

Quirky Mon (which I cannot help but think in a Jamaican accent) is a young medical student from Assam, and I am glad of this – when I first saw the title of her blog I didn’t think I would have the strength to continue. It is called “Quirky Alone....and Happy!” and as I have a pathological hatred of exclamation marks and am highly prejudiced against the word ‘quirky’, this was not a good start. I was terrified that it would be the ‘musings’ of a girl who wears jewellery made of vintage buttons, carries a lunchbox instead of a handbag and has a cat called Baudelaire. However, I bravely soldiered on, and this is what I found.

To rub salt in my frostbitten wounds, the first post describes a blissful April morning quite unlike the crabbed and pinching month we’ve just weathered. There are cuckoos and roses, jewelled feet in the dew, even a meaningful butterfly. I was, of course, spitting with envy, thinking of my daffodils poleaxed by the wind. My first instinct was to take some form of revenge on Quirky Mon, but I found that it is rather hard to hate her.

Quirky is a thoroughly decent young woman. She is hard-working and self-deprecating, she prizes education, and enjoys learning for its own sake. She is thoughtful and serious and she wants to make herself a better person. She loves her family and her friends and wants to make them proud of her, and yet she retains a mischievous streak, and displays an interesting capacity for ruthlessness. She worries about her appearance and she pines for a true love. I hope she finds him soon, she deserves him.

Her posts are often far too long for the casual reader, and I would advise that she go back through her archives and, at the very least, put in some paragraph breaks. I am aware that my criticising long posts is all rather pot and kettle, but I did find my eyes rebelling somewhere around the final third of Quirky’s longer theses. There’s also rather a lot of angst floating about, a lot of convoluted self-analysis. This is fine for a secret diary, but it can be rather tedious for other people to read, a bit like when my Fanny insists on recounting her dreams each morning. Quirky writes reasonably well though, with an eye for detail and character, and with harsher editing she could be much better. I do enjoy reading a blog that teaches me something I didn’t know before, and I found these posts about Bhaona and Bhogali Bihu fascinating.

Quirky does not swear or smoke or drink, and she comes from a culture where courting is rather difficult, and so her writing might not appeal to those of you with a more Bacchic bent. In fact, she does not seem like the kind of girl who would be a particularly devoted fan of this site and its overall tone at all. I did have to wonder what such a nice girl was doing in a place like this, but then I am often surprised at the differences between the blogs that are reviewed here and those that are the work of the commentators and contributors. It is hard to review the nice writings of nice people. Quirky is to me rather like that convenient butterfly. She is so lovely that I am afraid I will crush her in my meaty paws. I fear I may already have marred her with my smut, just by reading her words.

So what can I say in summation? Keep writing, Quirky; as catharsis if nothing else. If you really do harbour dreams of becoming a writer as well as a doctor, practise writing pieces that do not contain the word ‘I’. I won’t be returning to your blog – niceness can be quite draining for those of us who go bump in the night – but I passed a warming afternoon in your company and I am going to have Fanny make aloo chops for tea.

I am going to give you a star, and, as you are such a pleasant young woman, I am going to pretend that I didn’t see the poetry.


  1. good review. and while i love both you and shiner the forcemeat and shiner show is getting a bit old. i know, i know...it's hard to get reviewers.

  2. Thanks anon, but the problem is not just that's it's hard to get reviewers. I could probably ask anyone and they'd be willing to do it.

    But I have two rules that LB didn't have:

    1. You have to have already been reviewed. It's only fair. I'm not going to let some random person write a review if they didn't have the balls to submit their own blog in the first place.

    2. You have to be, at the very fucking least, grammatically accurate. I'm not desperate enough to compromise my fucking values.

  3. LB and Madame had good reviewers lined up, but some of them just didn't do it for me.

  4. More importantly: the only person that is giving me reviews is Forcemeat. Everyone else is all, "Oh, sorry, I have a fucking life. Get back to me in June."

    So in June, unless they're a bunch of fucking liars, I should have an army.

  5. In regards to the review, don't you think that if someone titles their blog "Quirky, Alone...and Happy" it's like they're trying to convince us they're happy when really it's entirely false, and they are miserable and pretending they're happy just to prove that being alone is acceptable?

  6. 1. Shiner, good to know. Don't be so defensive.

    2. They are probably a bunch of liars.

    3. As soon as I saw the title of the blog I thought, oh poor dear, she's trying to convince us that she is so happy being alone and miserable.

  7. Sigh. Yes. I am being defensive. It's a gift.

  8. Meat, you want me to let her know she's been reviewed? Since I apparently don't pay attention at work and just fuck around on AAYSR?

  9. Hey meat, thanks for reviewing my blog and pointing out how I could improve my writing.

  10. How would I go about being a reviewer? Yes, my blog has been reviewed and I am great at being grammatically correct.

    I'm commenting anon because I'd prefer, if I did do a review, that no one knew who I was.

    Shiner - do you have an email I can get you on?

  11. I clicked. I read. I came back. Her header is unique, but nothing grabbed my attention. One star is probably fair--I'm sure there are people out there with longer attention spans than mine.

    Anon--it takes about 30 seconds to create another identity--you should comment under your blog name, you'll have lots more credibility.

  12. Hmmm... Her comment here was a bit strange. She got offended by the review? It could have been much worse.

    I don't mind pretentious writing if it works. I don't even mind someone using the word "possess" instead of "have." Well, it does bother me a bit, but whatever. The mix of pretentious writing and unassuming content here seems fake to me.

  13. Man, those are some long ass posts. And a rather muted response from the reviewee.

  14. Personally, when I see it's Forcemeat doing the review, I'm getting so I don't even care about the blog being reviewed (which really I should probably feel bad about considering this site's purpose). I just enjoy the hell out of the reviews. If I could find Forcemeat's blog, I'd add it to my reader in a heartbeat.

  15. Anonymous, if you can't find my email address I don't know if you've really got any business reviewing blogs at all.

    I suggest, that if you truly want to remain anonymous, you build up some solid reactions to reviews in the comments sections and prove you can develop an actual opinion about a blog.


Grow a pair.