Rumour has it that Kottu is 10 years old. I say "rumour" because no one is exactly sure on this, but it's about 10 years old. Sometime around now.
Never one to fear a rapidly retreating bandwagon I'm going to catch the thing, jump on it and wish Indi and the thousands of staff behind Kottu's ongoing maintenance a very happy birthday. I'm told they work out of a large warehouse deep in the jungles of Colombo 7, are all permanently hunched from spending so much time bent over their laptops and sleep for a mere 1 hour per night, such is their dedication.
As a diasporic Sri Lankan I first stumbled across Kottu about 9 years ago. It gave me an insight into the lives and minds of people I didn't really know yet felt connected to. I read the blogs and wanted to get to know these people better, to become part of this rather exclusive club.
So I started my own blog, just writing shit and the wanderings of my mind. Or should that be "wonderings"? Or both?
In those days Kottu was pretty much a place, a meeting point. I got to know other fellow bloggers in person and in virtuality and I've made some very good friends from it all. It was a proper community, with good guys, (a)bad guy(s) jokers, penguins and Batmen. We had arguments, love ins, random get togethers and a massive variety of interests, from Birdwatching to music to geeky stuff, often encircled by the crazy politics of the Motherland.
It was in the height of the War and Politics, Ethnicity and all that went with it were hot topics. The end of the war was undoubtedly (in most peoples' minds) good for Sri Lanka but I noticed a shift in the topics and underlying focus of many Sri Lankan blogs. No longer could we talk about so many polarised viewpoints, though the Rajapaksas gave us plenty of juicy material in other departments.
Somewhere along the way I learned a bit about writing, though on reading my words so far I wonder about this. I started off a bit like the literary equivalent of Winnie The Pooh and I think it's fair to say that I've advanced and developed into more of a Paddington, without the Marmalade. I'm pretty sure Ashok Ferrey started in the same way so I know I'm on the right track. "Why the big paws?" I hear you say. Well, I was lacking inspiration, life moved on and I got divorced and things.
But most of what I learned was from reading other bloggers; Java with his hallucinogenic mind blowing ruminations made me think about lots of things from different perspectives,
Cerno, the elder statesman, with his totally fucking mental at times insights into how his mind works just made, and still makes, me laugh. Drama Queen, one of the many not so frequent these days but used to blog regularly people, when not saving cats and dogs from mankind, has a gift for writing with a mix of humour and compassion that makes me frankly a bit scared of ever actually meeting her in person.
David Blacker, one of those who I've become good friends with, is always there with a strong opinion and a good argument, usually for the wrong viewpoint!
Don't take my word for it thought, check out this Cerno post, click on some of the links and have a browse for yourself at life before Facebook and Twitter.
These days Kottu is more of an aggregator then a community. It sits there listing blogs that have something to do with Sri Lanka and there has been talk in Cinnamon Gardens of redundancies among its staff. People read Facebook Statii, Tweets and that other one the kids use; Instagraph or whatever it's called, as they have the attention span of one of those leery blokes at a party who keep looking around at other people while pretending to listen to you.
But it's still there, we all glance at it occasionally and look at what's going on.