Sepia Mutiny is shutting down. Whether you liked them or not, the blog was a prolific and informed source of opinions on everything brown-related on this side of the pond. Admittedly, I too rarely read it nowadays but back in its heydays, it was the place to be. The comments section was a great place, even for a lurker, for thought-provoking discussions and dare I say, sometimes better than the original post itself. Many people wrongly compared DesiPundit as a FOB-version to Sepia Mutiny’s ABCD roots. DesiPundit linked to content but Sepia Mutiny created content which in my opinion is at least slightly higher in the hierarchy of blogs.
But as Abhi points on in the post announcing the shutdown, the discussions have moved elsewhere; mostly to Facebook and Twitter. While this may be more convenient and quick, it has restricted access for everyone who wished to follow such discussions. When it happened in the comments section of a blog, anyone whether they read the blog regularly or not, could browse to and start reading. But with Facebook and Twitter, you either have to be as on Facebook, ‘friends’ with the person on whose ‘wall’ the discussions are taking place or as on Twitter, be ‘following’ all the discussants. This is not ideal but complaining about it is not going to change things and it’s what we got now.
One of the primary complaints about Sepia Mutiny that I had to sometimes defend them against was, they use the term ‘South Asian’ to encompass people from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc. when in fact there is no such thing as South Asia, SAARC notwithstanding. Largely true but as Amardeep, one of the more erudite and interesting bloggers on Sepia Mutiny, in this post says explicitly:
South Asian vs. Indian. Sepia Mutiny was always somewhat divided over its function and focus. On the one hand, the directive from Abhi and the other founders was quite clear: the point was to create a space for a South Asian American perspective. The “South Asian” part was important and essential (and we had many fights, mainly with skeptical readers, about whether it wasn’t after all just an “Indian American” blog). Also important was the “American” part of the equation; Sepia Mutiny was never intended to be an “Indian subcontinent” forum.
I’m afraid most readers from the subcontinent or even FOBs never could wrap their heads around this fact. Of course, at times, Sepia Mutiny didn’t help its cause by often over-analyzing current affairs in India but last I checked, many of us are hardly qualified to either but that never stopped us from posting angry blog posts each time there was a terror attack (we’ve had plenty of opportunities to over the years, unfortunately). Just like in Bombay, we don’t care if our friends are Maharashtrian, Tamilian, or Bihari (Ok, Raj Thackeray does but he’s an ass), ABCDs perhaps don’t care if their friends are Indian, Pakistani, Sri Lankan, etc.
From what I read, Sepia Mutiny was always an American blog that posted from the perspective of brown people in America. Even the opinions of brown people in England might not match with theirs let alone the billion-plus in India. I don’t suppose the objective was to create a South Asian lobbying group to argue for the interests of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, etc. But in fact, they were writing about shared experiences of brown people whose parents came from those countries. ABCDs, as we call them, often have other brown friends from India’s neighboring countries and they are often more similar in culture than their white peers and hence are easily to be friends with. These ABCDs have never grown up with the intense India-Pakistan, cricket and otherwise, rivalries that we know in India. Most of ABCDs haven’t even visited their ‘home’ countries until their late teens or early adulthood. From what I have heard, they are as confused as any other white tourist when they see hordes of people upon landing. We make the mistake of assuming that just because they look like us, they are expected to have similar identities when in fact, they are Americans. Even Czech Catholics in College Station, Texas seek out other Czech Catholics so why wouldn’t ‘South Asians’ seek out other ‘South Asians’? In fact, these identity-sleeking instincts are a function of supply and demand too. When there are too many desis in the region they live, people narrow down and start seeking out people from the same region hence all the statewise associations.
Well, now that they are shutting down, all these tensions seem moot. Heck, the arguments stopped long time ago as commenters and linkers that made Sepia Mutiny and DesiPundit interesting left for more convenient pastures. All we can do is be thankful for the tons of content they created over the years and gave brown people all over something that they love to do most – argue.