Sunday, March 3, 2013

It’s time you knew


For over a month I watched my blog readership plummet, much to my dismay. Plagued by self-doubt, I blamed my writing, my fickle-minded readers, tried harder and wondered what I was doing wrong. To put it simply, I assumed that I had been discarded like a soiled tissue paper.

I was dealing with my biggest fear – the thought that perhaps I had moved past my best.

Last week, Manu Katyaayan sent me a concerned message. He wanted to know why my feeds had stopped showing in his reader. My first reaction was of immense relief. I could finally blame something else for my dipping blog hits. Of course I had no idea what to do about it. So I did what I do best, send an SOS call to my friends. Those who took the bait, I latched on them like a hungry leech and chewed their heads off.

I must mention Subhorup Dasgupta and his exemplary patience. He would sit with me for hours and give every trouble-shooting tip that was ever devised. For me he was Sherlock Holmes, meticulously sifting for clues to solve the befuddling mystery of the missing feeds. I tried everything – from removing widgets, pinging manually, authenticating my feeds. You name it, I tried it. When everything failed, I did a headstand, hung from an imaginary bell in an imaginary temple and demanded justice from God.

Several frustrating days and Mark Miranda later (a Twitter follower and an insomniac techie from Mumbai) I was able to crack the code. I felt like Robert Langdon (okay not him, but his hardworking sidekick). In my nerve wracking thriller of an almost lost blog, I found the evil, scheming villain MS-Word, the comedienne – Purba Ray and the heroes – Manu, Subho and Mark. The funny Mrs Ray had been copying, pasting her posts from MS-Word, blissfully unaware of the unnecessary codes that were getting embedded in her posts.


I am not aware of the technicalities, but it seems my blog had used up all the allotted space and hence the feeds had stopped appearing in the reader. It’s only when I manually removed formatting from nearly 50 posts, did my feeds start showing.

Just six months back, I nearly lost my blog. I had forgotten to disable two-step verification for my google account, when I moved to Australia. This water-tight security feature made sure I couldn’t access my account. It was sending the access codes to my non-functioning Indian SIM card. Countless security questions and many aborted attempts later I was informed by Google that they are still not sure whether I’m the genuine product and should consider opening a new account. It’s not a nice feeling to know that you might have to abandon two and a half years of hard-work, over 200 posts and a following that I had so painstakingly built.

It was only after I mailed my SIM card back to India and have someone text me the codes, I could finally access my account.

Lesson learnt - Either disable two step verification or carry a print of backup verification codes with you,when you move to a new country.

When you are about to lose something, you realize how much it means to you. For me A-Musing is not a just a blog I author. Over the last three years it has become my identity. I discovered myself through my blog and my friends & family discovered me through my musings.

You have no idea how great it feels to see the happy chattering make a comeback on my blog. It’s as if A-Musing has come back to life. I must thank my tenacious readers and friends who made it to the comments section despite the missing notifications.

To think that I was ready to give up on writing!

But I didn’t. I fought tooth and nail for it.

I think it’s time I told you, how much you and your comments means to me. What good is a blog without readership? I don’t write for myself. I write for you.


102 comments:

  1. OMG that must have been such a horrible nightmare. I hate the verification things too :( Imagine losing all that work, it would be the worst loss ever in terms of passion and creativity :( Gosh, I am so happy and glad that didn't happen! Good you had the SIM card to be able to send it back! So MS word, you're not supposed to copy paste from there? I type my posts in MS word all the time! What do you do then?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You can paste it in blogger draft and remove formatting (there's a button on the extreme right hand side).

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    2. Even I was not knowing that copy-paste from msoffice (word, exel etc.) embeds codes and formatting helps to get through the feeds. Very nice to share with us all.

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  2. Uhoh! Purba! Enter the comedian :) I, too, do exactly the same - copy from MS-Word. So, maybe, the day is not far off when my feed goes bust too :) Not that it would be such a huge issue - to lose readers one must have them in the first place :) Thanks to you maybe I shall save myself the fate-worse-than-death for a blogger and lose the only excuse I could possibly get for not having readers :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Even if you are copy pasting from MS-Word just make sure you remove formatting.

      And stop kidding, okay! Your blog has a steady and loyal readership.

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    2. Never let the truth stand in the way of a good line :)

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  3. You chewed people's head..... are you.... are you a Praying Mantis! :O
    Par tabhi bolta tha ki Wordpress par aa jao. Koi problems nahi hain. Par meri sunta kaun hai. Huh!
    P.S. And I have no option but to read your blog. Because........ you know. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! you don't have a choice. You are my captive audience.

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  4. Technology is trouble if not fully understood before using may lead to troubles u faced. As said all is well which ends well. Enjoy your new place and we hope we will still get the tweets and blogs about Indian situation day in day out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For me there are no mistakes. These are simply lessons learnt the hard way :-)

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  5. That's interesting really.. Not about your blog posts not showing up in the news feed. What I feel interesting is how the technicality plays with people like us. I too copy from my MS word. But my readers are very minute in number and I usually write for myself and not for others :-) (sounds strange, but yes I like to shout out just for myself)

    I did not realize that I was not seeing your news feed as I usually read your posts by clicking on the link you send via facebook.
    :-)
    PS: while reading your blog posts (after you changed your theme recently), your right side bar seems to be jumping for some reason..(It might be I drunk even though I hardly drink, but feeling strange)
    :-))

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, the Right hand side bar seems to be in a hyperactive mode. When it misbehaves, I simply close the window and re-open.

      Did potter around a bit with templates. Not sure if it helped.

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  7. *sniff*

    Life would be so dull without your blog posts! Come on!

    Anyhoo, you should seriously give Focus Writer a try, or Windows Live Writer - the first a serious no-frills writing thingmie, and the second a superb blog writing tool. Microsoft Word? Sheeeesh!

    Good to have you back!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did try and install Windows Live Writer. The damn thing refuses to recognize my user id and password :/

      Good to have you back too :-)I thought you had abandoned my blog.

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  8. I can understand your predicament and know the labour pains u must have gone through...I was in somewhat same kind of situation sometimes back and had scribbled it in my blog page...

    http://rajeshthakkar.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/love-at-first-sight.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will be reading your link in a bit :-)

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  9. Thanks Purba,I'm a hero(chalo Maa ka sapna poora hua). I just checked again and everything is fine now with your blog and btw I have started to post again too. Thanks for helping me to come out of my block... Cheers :D !!!

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    1. Oh... I forgot to tell you one thing. If you're on a windows OS you can you 'Windows Live Writer' to write and post directly to your blog, much better than MS Word and best tool for bloggers across the board.
      Also, I second unpredictableblog's comment, WP is best.

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    2. I can't start afresh on WP! Imagine having to inform everyone individually about my new address!

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    3. I researched on this, your address would remain the same only the platform and/or hosting would change.

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  10. Phew...close call! What would I do without you and your blog? (So you see, it is always about me, not you!)

    Incidentally, my blog readership has plummeted too (without really ever rising) but, thankfully, at least I know it is because of mediocrity! :)

    Oh and my blog feed hasn't been working since October (as per Indiblogger) and consequently, my IndiRank has been a big fat ZERO since then! I am simply blaming Sonia Gandhi for that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do what I did. Go to all your posts and remove formatting. Will be glad to help. Let me be the one to rescue you :p

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  11. That was scary....glad the issue is solved. Hope to read you more and more.

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    1. I think my reaction was scarier - stuck to my laptop like glue, trying out every troubleshooting tip that was ever devised.

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  12. Are you sure about the Word thing because most of us do copy paste from word? Blogger feeds are ver erratic even otherwise. Good you got whatever was the problem under control. Take care.

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    1. I am 100% sure. I had reported the matter to the Google technical team and they had said the same thing.

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    2. Good then! But I always got your feeds both email notifications and in the reader! It's good to know that something so simple can be problematic. Thanks for sharing though I am out of the blogger net :-P!

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  13. Oh! We all do the same and word verification is a terrible thing when you change places frequently like me, I always use 2 back-up phone numbers for those who never change places. About you questioning the integrity of your blog, I think there are many like me who don't need blogger dashboard or feed mail, they know your blog url by heart.

    Good to know things are sorted. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw! what a sweet thing to say, Saru :-)

      Thank you so much for your support.

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  14. Dear Purba Ray - How can we ever stop reading you !
    But what a Scary experience! I copy paste from word all the time !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. STOP DOING THAT, WOKAY?
      * I meant the copy-pasting part. The blog reading part, if you ever abandon me, I will come and haunt your nightmares*

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    2. yes Ma'm - to both he things :P

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  15. Yeah, MS wWrd screws things up badly with its own codes. Fortunately Wordpress has a "Paste from Word" option that formats it properly. Not that I ever use MS Word for writing posts - I enter them directly into the editor.

    If I'm not mistaken, Blogger also automatically saves your work as you type into the box doesn't it? So why not just do that instead of adding an extra step in between?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Blogger does have a compose option. But old habits die hard. Will have to look at alternatives to avoid future screw-ups.

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  16. Well, managed to keep track of your posts regardless of feeds coming or otherwise! I encountered similar issues when traveling abroad but lady luck never left me groping in dark at least so far:)Strange are the ways of Google!!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yes! and if you have screwed-up you are on your own.

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  17. and we love reading your funny witty sarcastic and truth searching articles...i was wondering the same thing with my blog too..and realized my feeds had stopped...anyways my problem was something else and am hopefully back on track!!! :)

    good to be getting ur feeds again..though I did always check up on your blog for new posts :)

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  18. Oops, the verification episode looks so scary.
    In fact, a few days back, I had a dream that wordpress has deleted my Blog and I was so scared, and the first thing that I did was I took the export in the Xml.
    In the evening, I read your post and am happy you dint let it happen...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You must always keep a backup of your blog! And make sure you keep updating it every few months.

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  19. I always copy paste from MS Word. This is very informative.
    Ms Funny Ray, keep writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Just make sure you remove formatting when you paste it to Blogger.

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  20. hey
    Thanks for the piece of information. such kinda thgs can get to u.
    Vishal
    www.vishalbheeroo.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was indeed a frustrating experience.

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  21. Oh boy...what a pain you've gone through!! But luckily, I always got your posts...btw, there was this one day when I got a dozen posts from you...I wondered why? A similar thing happened when Rachna shifted to wordpress..and I write my posts in notepad..sometimes, in word. So, word is the culprit. I get it!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that day I managed some miracle and published all my pending feeds :-)

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  22. I remember seeing your twitter updates about new posts and not on my reader, so I thought it was the problem with my reader ! I still made it to comments section :-)
    But its really informative to many of us budding bloggers here . Thanks for sharing, we will be careful.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yep!and it appears 80% of us copy paste our documents from MS-Word.

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  23. this is a real eye opener... i know many would say you've gone to some extreme lengths for the blog but truth be told, i would feel just as lost/amputated without my blog too..

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! like a friend who's never too busy or tired to listen to your rants.

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  24. Weird word of blogging! You write so well, you should not worry about the stats. Keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Coming from you, it means a lot :-)

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  25. Oh, that's nightmarish for starters. Didn't you bite all your fingernails in the process? :P

    and regarding the stats, I think you don't have to worry... the readership will keep on increasing and increasing, your writing takes care of that :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Three years into blogging and I still can't rid myself of writer's anxiety :-)

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  26. So glad to see things back on track. I learned a lot trying to figure out what was happening. So thanks are due to you too, Purba. And now, thanks to this post, I have a long queue of head-scratching bloggers outside my virtual door. It means your feed is working!

    By itself, the blogger interface is quite powerful, but like all technology, features are not created keeping in mind all the variables they might be subject too. The MSWord code trouble started long back (I think Office 2007) when it went the xml way, and it has just kept getting more complex. Fortunately, blogger lets you copy from anywhere and still remove formatting by selecting all and clicking the "remove formatting" icon in compose mode. Then you have to manually clean up the extra paragraph spaces and indents that this throws up. An easier way is to copy from word to notepad and then copy from notepad to blogger editor. And livewriter is a neat tool too.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. For me, you are my knight in shining armour :-)

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  27. I t cane be pretty scary, indeed. Fortunately the blogging world is full helpful souls who are there to guide you through the technical mess, which is anyway Greek to me.

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    1. Indeed! Even when I was a newbie, I was never short of encouragement and help from the blogging community.

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  28. I think you needn't worry about your readership for you are such a fantastic writer :) I am sure you will have many fans (me included) who would never abandon your blog ;)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. *Sobs with relief* :p

      Thank you so much, sweetheart!

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  29. I remember facing this problem at the beginning. They just told me to start copy pasting from notepad. It is good to hear that you discovered the problem and revived the blog, welcome back, it is really nice to read your blog, give me food for thought. :-)

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  30. Even on a hectic day, if I see a post update from you I come over to read your blog. I know many fellow bloggers who appreciate your style, so bury those worries about readership. You are like the light that attracts moths (readers). ;)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. You are such a large-hearted woman! God bless you.

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  31. I am new here... and you are on the good old blogroll. So, feeds is not an issue!
    And I write for myself when I blog. I'm beginning to wonder if it's a bad thing :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Nope! there are no rights and wrongs. You do what makes you happy :-)

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  32. I have lost my blog few years ago and it was really frustrating. Great that you didnt give up~ Keep on writing, girl :)

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  33. Now that was scary, Purba...I thought the blogs are safe in this domain! Oh, I must start keeping a back up from now on... Thank you.
    I smile because you've finally driven me insane with that format-thingy suggestion. Wonder how to change THAT now. Sigh!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Edit - remove formatting...It's not too tough.

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  34. :) i had no idea this happens! i usually compose directly in blogger interface, but well... one learns everyday. will make sure i never copy paste from ms word again.

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    1. Neither did I till it happened to me.

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  35. Oh I am so glad it all sorted out.Funny thing I always got your feeds in my Blogger reader. :)

    For the sake of your readers, don't even think of giving up on writing :)

    ReplyDelete
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    1. At least SOMEONE was getting it. Phew!

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  36. Lesson learnt and lesson conveyed! Sometimes I do type it in Word and copy-paste it...will be careful! And the two step verification; thank god, you mentioned...I had completely forgotten about it; shortly I will be making a trip to Kerala. Thanks!
    Extremely glad that you are back after sorting so much of your problems!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep! disable that damn thing when you make the trip back home.

      Delete
  37. I had forgotten my password once...and it was quite a heart attack. For bloggers..the blog is too precious no matter what you write on it.

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  38. I've had my book site disabled. Only the first page - the home page works. The "read more" tabs give the old 404. I'll get someone to fix it someday - hopefully my husband.

    Subho is truly a wonderful blogger and haven't had the pleasure of meeting Mark as yet. As for your blog, Purba, hope you keep us a-musing and a-mused for a long time to come. Having read your views on India/ns I would definitely want to know your evolving views on Australia/ns.

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    1. I'm enjoying playing the observer in the land of Down Under. I love the Aussie trait of shortening words - footie, pokies, barbies, mossy....the list goes and on and on!

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  39. For me, this is definitely lesson learnt in the best possible way. I had always copied from MS Word to Notepad and then to Blogger, so that my blog specific formatting doesn't get screwed up. Glad I did that without landing in a situation like this.
    But let me tell you Purba, you are already one of the best bloggers in our country and I am sure there are many like me who don't wait for a notification.
    They sneak in, laugh, smile, ponder and let procrastination take the lead, when it comes to commenting

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    Replies
    1. I should print this comment and get it framed. Will be useful when I am plagued with self-doubt (which is a recurring theme in my life).

      Thank you so much, Arnab :-)

      Delete
  40. whew! Manually correcting 500 posts...worth crying for! Good thing I subscribe to your blog via Bloglovin so I never had the issue of not seeing your feed.
    Perhaps you should think of 2-3 options for people to subscribe so that if one fails....

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    1. Err...50 not 500 :-)

      I loved your idea of having more subscription options. Will need to ask Google Da.

      Delete
  41. Have your feeds stopped showing up once again? I haven't seen any for the past 4 days. You write really well and hence this curious enquiry.

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    1. Thank you but I haven't published anything new in the last 4 days :-)

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  42. And then there were regular readers who guessed that something was wrong and added the feed again and again till it started working.
    Believe me sooner or later, everyone would have figured it out and it would have picked up again. That is how fans work. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't say "fans". It scares me.
      And thank you for not giving up on me :-)

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  43. Thanks for sharing your scary experience... a lot of lessons learnt from it! I type my post in Windows Live Writer and then hit the publish button on it and it goes live on the blog. You may like to try that!

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    1. I'm planning to switch over to Windows Live.

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  44. Thanks for giving info of the online technical emergency guys who can help! I had seen you tweet about someone checking your feeds--but you see I dont even understand what feed is and how one sees it :( Thanks for letting your readers know about Ms Word problem. I will remember to remove formatting.
    You know what I like about this post--a woman who is not so comfortable with technology triumphs over her situation with aplomb and ends up writing about it. Gives me courage :-)

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    1. On the contrary, I used to think I am quite comfortable with technology,till I faced this problem. But I am always willing to learn.

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  45. I have been in trouble a few times, and whenever I had asked some techno savvy person to help me they would give some more techno boring advise which would be more difficult to understand than the original problem. I have solved most of my problems by googling and browsing the net for solutions.
    It is nice to know you have good friends who really take pains to solve your problem.
    Well like someone else also mentioned their comments, I too write only for myself, and have not got in to the race of getting maximum comments. It is better sometimes that there are less people commenting, which means less people to reply. Sometimes even regulars don't bother to visit my blogs or maybe they visited but left without commenting, and some times I have a whole lot followers coming and reading my blog and commenting also. Always sometimes it is good, sometimes it is ok.
    But, I am not bothered about these things, for we will have people visiting us when we have something they can relate to, however, I have never let such things stop me from writing when and what I feel like writing. Good blog, giving tips for people who might end up with similar problem. I also always edit( though I hate editing) and remove the formating thing in the extreme right. It is a pity, although things are advancing as such a fast pace, but many of us are not fast enough to understand it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If I wanted to write for myself I would have maintained a diary :-) And it is the fear of letting my readers down than goads me to push myself harder.

      I don't remember participating in a race for comments. Let's just say, I have been extremely lucky to have a group of loyal friends and readers.

      Delete
  46. You can add one more to your list of avid readers now.. I am a fan now... !!

    btw, how is Avijit doing and when are you planning to take a trip to US again ? you are half a world away now though..

    Chayan

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    Replies
    1. Feel honoured :-)
      Avijit is busy, happy and back to playing his violin. Hoping to meet you guys in September.

      Delete

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