When you meet a research scientist who has been creating waves in the blogging space right since 2004, a time when most people in India were still grappling with using the internet, you know for sure that he loves his Other Side.
Arnab Ray, famously known as Greatbong, is one of India’s most widely read bloggers who blogs at Random Thoughts of a Demented Mind. A research scientist at University of Maryland by the day, he spends his evenings writing about politics, films and societal issues. He has also authored three best seller novels and has contributed articles to New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Outlook magazine, Times of India, DNA, Telegraph, the Mint and the Hindustan Times.
Arnab started writing when he was 5 (born writer we’d say!), scribbling in Bengali in his old green calendar diary. By the time he was in class 6, he had started writing 2000 word posts in english. Blogging was a natural follow on. It was his way to reach out to like minded people through a medium he most loved – writing.
Ask him why he calls himself the demented mind, he is quick to say “Demented means not normal – it doesn’t signify abnormality though. I don’t write straight perspectives. For example, if I have written a review on movie ‘Gunda’, its not about it, but a literary criticism on everything that’s wrong. The objective is to make an art piece by elevating it through review. There is a lot of lateralness in my posts”
In the first year there wasn’t much traffic due to lack of social media back in 2004. Blogs were a novelty then. One of his posts got appreciated in Telegraph newspaper – the post was a mock obituary note for closure of porn site desibaba.com and that got the traffic coming. Being an early adopter to blogging helped. Today, on an average he has 8000-10000 views a day on his blog and on days he writes a post, it gets 10000 – 20000 views within 2-3 hours.
We ask him how he manages his time and living upto his reader’s expectation. “I don’t follow a schedule. There was a time I was focusing on my blog and would push myself to write something; then I realised its not worthwhile. I blog only when I feel like writing – my mental state should meet the time I have in hand and I should feel passionate about the topic. Else, I feel its unfair to my readers – my readers don’t come to my blog for information, for that they go to some other place – they come when I have something distinctive to say.”
He believes that writing research reports at work has helped him in blogging as well. “When you write research reports, you have to be logically coherent, brief, you have to make a point, you have to ensure you present matter in a way which cannot be attacked (People can argue with facts, not with your take on the fact) – the same rules are applicable for blogging too.”
Despite being an amazing writer, he never pursued writing professionally so as to maintain an amount of independence of thought on his blog without having to worry about his source of income. He didn’t want to write things that sell. Rather, he wanted to write things that excited him. Having a separate professional life and not having to make money out of blogging gave him the mental space to be honest and free. He likes not having to think of what will happen if no one reads his post.
When asked for a message for budding writers, he advices “Manage time. If you’re going to write – blogs or books – learn the nuances of grammar of the language you’re writing in. Understand the tone in which you do so – having an unserious tone, won’t have an impact – no matter how good the content is. Start this as a hobby, rather than a full time career option – do it for 10 years in parallel and then if you feel you want to take it up as a career, go ahead. Till then you’ll have insights on your interest, the audience you’ve built and what they expect from you. 10 years will basically cover an entire cycle – both ups and downs. Also, if you’re really focused on taking risks, its a no brainer to take this up as a career before you get married and have a family.”
And that was Arnab Ray, the prolific writer for you!
Arnab is based out of Maryland and will be shifting to Chicago soon. You can follow him on Twitter (@greatbong) and Facebook. He is the author of May I Hebb Your Attention Pliss, The Mine, Yatrik. Upcoming Books – The Mahabharata Murders, Sultan Of Delhi (Parts I and II).
About The Other Side
We, at The Other Side, believe life gives us a choice. Always. The choice to break the mundane, humdrum existence. The choice to discover the small joys of life. The choice to be extraordinary.
The Other Side is our attempt to bring forth stories of a few extraordinary people who made the choice of following their passion/ hobby despite all odds. They are people just like you and me. They have similar jobs, similar families and similar lifestyle. Just one thing sets them apart; their love for something beyond the routine. One of them sits up late at night to complete the unfinished poem she’s been writing and another one wakes up before sunrise to make sure he completes the long run he’s been planning to. And there are many more like them.
Have you ever wondered why? What makes them tick? We are here to find those answers. If even a few people reading these stories are inspired enough to find these little joys of life we’ve experienced, we’ll consider it a job well done. And if you are one of The Other Siders already, write to us on firstname.lastname@example.org, we’d love to feature you!