Friday, August 20, 2010

The Holy Shit Trinity of HoHum

The Yogi Zone is really not one blog, but three. And yet it is still one. It’s a paradox.

What I mean by this is that thematically, and subject matter wise, Yogesh Patwari has had phases.

The first phase, and by far the least interesting of them all, to me at least, was what appears to be some sort of note taking exercise, a recording for posterity of the events surrounding his completion of undergraduate education and interviewing for varying institutes of further higher learning. These entries are written in a sloppy shorthand, in which no acronym is spelled out or explained and in which it is apparently okay to abbreviate capriciously. Holding me at an even longer arm’s length away, it appears that he’s applying to an MBA program, so much of the subject matter of the interviews he relates is all about topics that I am sure would be fascinating to an MBA candidate.

But not to me.

Oh, and when he relays something that was spoken by someone else, he writes it in transliterated Hindi. I don’t read Hindi. Even getting Google Translate to translate it for me is a chore since I first have to convert it from its transliterated form and then translate it. And quite frankly, I could not be bothered.

YogiZone Phase #1 gets an emphatic Proud Rider of the Short Bus.



The second phase is all about Yogesh's life in the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore (IIMB), where our intrepid scholar finds himself surrounded by geeked out engineering students, harder work and lower grades than he had anticipated, misanthropic birthday rituals, and fewer dating options than he had hoped for.

In this phase, he occasionally gets political, particularly about the caste-based reservation system in higher education (for you westerners, think Equal Opportunity or Quotas) as opposed to his ideal meritocracy.

This phase is much more interesting then the last, as he spends much of his time detailing what life at IIMB is like, posting pictures, etc. It reads a bit like a Bangalore version of Tom Brown’s School Days. And it seems to reach its finale with him on the job hunt as he approaches the end of his schooling. And then he finishes at IIMB, filled with mixed emotions.

And then he goes silent for two years.

YogiZone Phase #2 – I don’t know how to rate you. You amuse occasionally, and you annoy occasionally. You drive me crazy with non-sequiturs and murky writing. You force me to do a shit load of homework to even find out what the hell it is that you’re talking about. And yet, I was interested. In the same way I find watching foreign films interesting. I know nothing about the context, and yet life in other parts of the world is fascinating. So there’s that. My inner anthropologist gave you a single star for this section, but my inner editor took it away.

(This is the space where a star would have been if the editor had not redacted it.)

The third phase of the Yogi Zone forces us to believe that within two years Yogesh has gone from a sad sack loser who couldn’t buy a date to a married working man, detailing what life is like in Mumbai and odd people he encounters commuting to work or in the process of finding a place to live. Just out of the blue, he mentions a wife and starts offering marital advice.

I found this segue fascinating and disconcerting at the same time. Almost as if two years after the original Yogesh abandoned his blog, Bizarro Yogesh found the log in information and in essence hacked the account. Working against this theory is that he still insists on writing whole conversations in Hindi. Which I am not going to translate.

Since this phase seems to be the living breathing part of this blog, this is where I am going to focus my advice.

But then I read this little snippet, written in June, right around the time that this review was requested, and it gives me pause:

“I have listed my blog on all these blog directories on the net (in the hope of getting the most coveted of all prizes for bloggers around the globe - traffic!).”

It makes me wonder, what advice I, an ugly westerner, can offer you to improve. Or do you think that your shit doesn’t stink as is?

Well, guess what, sir. You are wrong, sir. I have smelled your shit, sir, and it doth smell of shit.

  • Know your audience. You submitted to a western, English speaking audience for a review of your blog, which is liberally peppered with Hindi. I don’t expect you to write only in English or only in Hindi, but how the hell am I supposed to rate you when I don’t know what you’re saying 10% of the time? How would you have liked it if I had written this review in Romanian or Korean? I get it – people in other countries speak other languages. But why did you submit for a review HERE? Oh yeah, the traffic.
  • This one’s a bit less concrete, but you have some amusing things to say, but often the amusing stuff is packed in with a bunch of dreck. Several of your posts ran out of steam long before you ran out of words. Others forced me through too many mental calisthenics before getting to the payoff. Edit thyself. Not every word is sacred.
  • Find something real to write about. Almost every post here is a diary entry. There is no soul. Perhaps that’s on purpose. Perhaps you fear revealing yourself to the world. But Yogi, if you want my affection, you must give of yourself. And, aside from conveying frequent feelings of anxiety and inadequacy, you don’t give us anything of yourself.

Overall, I found the final phase of this blog disappointing, shallow, and pointless. Unless you’re an MBA living in Mumbai, looking for same, for sharing amusing-ish anecdotes. Which I am not.

After long and careful deliberation, I have no choice but to award you the Abercrombie poseur rating. Blogging does not make you cool, in and of itself. Sorry.

8 comments:

  1. That was humourous without being nasty, and has to be among my favourite reviews here. I suppose I liked it so much because, while I'm not quite an MBA living in Mumbai, some of the jump cuts in there are not as mystifying for me as it is for you.

    What I'm curious of is - given you've managed to find time to do all the background research, divide the blog into phases, and review each of them - how long do you spend on a review?

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  2. @Rohan -- I don't know how long it took. I don't keep a timesheet. In this case, Yogi only had 45 posts to read, so I was able to read the entire thing in two or three sittings. And then there were three or four writing sessions, snatched between meetings and work requirements.

    Put it this way - I don't rush through, but I won't kill myself over it either.

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  3. Did you notice that one of the blogs he follows is the one MB reviewed Tuesday. Maybe they'll go out and celebrate their mediocrity together.

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  4. I did not notice that. Huh.

    Now that you direct me to that list, I did find this one to be an odfd choice:

    http://www.eppingelectrical.com/

    This is a blog he follows. I don't even know what to do with that.

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  5. Man, I love going through other people's blogrolls. Sometimes it's so much more fulfilling than reading the blog itself.

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  6. Also, the second I read that quote I decided not to click over to the blog. Traffic my ass.

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  7. @Scorpio - Thanks for the review! Honestly :)

    I agree with the phases bit - and don't we all change with time?

    And I warned you on the Hindi bit in my request for review. You called on the torture! Don't blame me ...

    I had submitted the blog here because I love reading your reviews and then, at times one loves being ripped apart!

    Oh, and btw, http://www.eppingelectrical.com/ is my friend's blog - it lets me be in a touch with her (in a strange way!) :)

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  8. We do change with time. That wasn't a criticism, just an observation. I think what was odd was that I think it's pretty rare to see such clear cut boundaries of demarcation in the changes being reflected.

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Grow a pair.