Blogging as artwork and other debates at the Lodhi Garden Restaurant

Categories Delhi

Last weekend, I had the good, and completely undeserved fortune, of being invited to a dinner with dignitaries from the art world. At the table were professors from German universities and directors of museums from many different countries. The dinner was hosted at the Lodhi Garden Restaurant, which though set in a beautiful setting, was not half as remarkable in terms of food.

Now, that I have started talking about the restaurant, I will get this matter of least consequence out of the way first. The restaurant, set in the historic garden and close to the cultural hub of the city, is rather expensive. Most of the reviews online talk more about the setting than the food, which seems only fair. The restaurant has indoor, outdoor and seating on the first floor. The best time to go is in the evenings, when you can still take a look around and enjoy the surroundings.

lodhi garden restaurant

lodhi restaurant delhi

I was there when it was already dark and taking out a camera would have gone against the spirit of the evening. So there are no good photos. But at Rs.2,500 per head for a five course meal and wine in which absolutely nothing was memorable, I am not the one to recommend it. However, just to be fair, the toilet had rose petals all over, there were floating candles on the table and the lighting was soft enough to make even the pre-pubescent romantic.

Blogging and the urge for personal archiving

Quite understandably, academics and artists are the slowest creatures when it comes to catching up with new technologies. Some of them keep the doors closed quite consciously; others find it challenging to keep them open.

As bloggers, we are compelled to document each new experience, archive it in our computers and broadcast it by putting it on online. We eat with a fork in one hand and a camera in another. We are unpaid, untethered journalists, relentless and mercenary in spirit, with a compulsion to report.

Almost all the people at the table were extensive travelers and excellent writers. None of them had a blog. As one of the professors mentioned, he remembered each and every place he went to, the food he had and the people he met. It was all in his head. He didn’t feel the urge and see any need to create an archive of these experiences. I kept insisting that it was criminal to let so much fritter away, but gradually saw his point.

We see our blogs as our body of work, for him it was his books, articles and research papers. So, both of us created archives, mine was an electronic one and his inhabited the paper universe. Thankfully, he never contested the idea of blogs being seen as a person’s ‘body of work’ and I could claim to be an artist.

Gay Taelse, the writer who is credited with starting New Journalism with his piece, Frank Sinatra Has a Cold, talked about the hierarchy of writers in a recent interview. He was a journalist, where he had to stick to a particular style of writing and a word limit. Then, he became a writer of non-fiction, where he was not allowed the literary license that only fiction writers had.

I am seriously interested in knowing where does a blogger lie in this scale. Can a blogger claim to be an author? Will he ever have the literary credibility of a writer? Does he deserve a pass to the annual writers’ meet?

Can a blogger claim to be an author or, a writer, without diluting the literary world ?