Interview with Mark of SF Metroblogging

San Francisco based Metroblogger Mark Pritchard was in Bangalore last week. Over emails, we agreed to meet up on Saturday at the Leela Hotel and check out the Photography festival which Deepa has written about. Earlier in the week, I had planned to meet him over dinner with other MB’rs which, at the last moment, I had to skip due to work related issues. In return, I offered to treat him to a traditional South Indian breakfast which he readily accepted. So, on Saturday, over idly, vada, kesari baath, masala dosa washed down with superb filter coffee, I asked him if he would mind a mini sort of interview. Needless to say, he agreed to this as well. Here he is, famished like I was and all set to do justice to the glorious food.


Q. 3000 posts on your blog – and counting. That’s awesome. Tell us more.

Like many people, I was inspired to blog after reading the reactions by New York bloggers to the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Their blog entries from that period made it clear that blogging could be a unique kind of personal journalism.
Since that time, my blog has taken many different tacks. For a long time I wrote satirical observations about culture, politics and media.When I was trying to publish my first novel, I wrote a lot about writers and the book industry. (That novel has not been published yet, by the way.) Lately, as I have had less time to surf the internet, my blog has taken a more personal tack.

Q. A movie reviewer, entertainment writer, erotic stories novelist, essayist, English teacher, delivery truck driver, layout artist, bike messenger dispatcher and dishwasher and church choir member / secretary – tell us more about the Mark Pritchard that you are.

I guess that sounds like a lot of different things, but it’s typical for a middle class American of my generation of have a broad background and to do many different things for fun and for money. Right now I am a technical writer for a large software company, and I’m working to finish my second novel, set in Bangalore.

Q. So you are in Bangalore researching on your upcoming novel in which the protagonist – an American – who gets to be deputed here to open an outsourcing unit and finds herself doing Yoga in spite of herself. Tell us more. When do we get to see the book in print.

The novel began as a comic story about a young American woman who blogs to relieve her boring life as a finance analyst in a bank. Only after I had written 60 pages of the book did I realize that it would be interesting and topical if her bank dispatched her to Bangalore. So I began researching the city, mostly through reading news stories I gathered on the internet — the best resource has been Only after I have been working on the book for two years was I able to finally visit Bangalore.

Q.Your blog posts while in Bangalore include your observations on the weather, drainage, infrastructure, ‘mango rains’, ‘internet cafes without a cafĂ©’, sidewalks, hotels vs. restaurants, horrid air, M.G Road, autos, potholes, the 550/- breakfast, chaos, heat & airconditioning, Malleshwaram. Now that you are back in the U.S, could you sum up your experience here?

I found Bangalore to be a vibrant, exciting city. And while I was not able to sample most of it, I could see that there are two aspects which I would love to have experienced more of — the food and the artistic culture. For an American, the pollution and some of the dirtier aspects take some getting used to, but having done my research, I was somewhat prepared for them. However, nothing could possibly prepare one for the nearly apocalyptic chaos of Chickpete, which I asked my hosts to drive through on the way to the airport. Compared to the other parts of Bangalore I visited, Chickpete truly is what Americans mean when we think of “the Third World.” I was glad I had seen it, because it helped me put the more westernized parts of Bangalore in perspective, and made me realize how comfortable much of the city is. But the most difficult thing for me to get used to, personally, would be the heat, because San Francisco is a much cooler city.

Q. During your commutes within the city, have the traffic conditions appalled you what with the lack of lanes & discipline? Do you have any suggestion to solve this perennial Bangalore problem?

I think “appalled” is putting it too strongly. The way the traffic behaves strikes an American as chaotic — *at first.* After a few days one realizes the — shall we say — unwritten system that everyone, including pedestrians, uses to negotiate the roads. In fact, considering the number of accidents that happen every day on the streets of San Francisco, which is a much smaller city, I’m not even sure it would be accurate to say that Bangalore traffic is more

If lane discipline were adhered to, the traffic would probably be less confusing. But if you’re asking me what problem should be solved, I would say the honking. The noise is truly stunning sometimes.

Q. You also maintain a separate & specific Bangalore blog called Can we see a revival of your posts here.

I started that blog to share with my readers some of the news stories I posted about Bangalore, and I intended to put my travel posts there. But when it came time for me to actually go to Bangalore, I realized it was easier for my friends to find my travel dispatches in my main blog. So I probably won’t revive that other one.

Mark had also agreed earlier to travel by the Volvo to get a feel of the new city commute option. Here he is at the Airport Road bus-stop all set to add one more experience while in Bangalore.


I found Mark to be a total sport and completely down to earth, willing to take risks and seize opportunities to enhance his experiences during his stay in Bangalore. I do hope that Bangalore will feature well in his upcoming novel.

Mark, all the best!

7 Comments so far

  1. anita (unregistered) on April 23rd, 2007 @ 5:28 pm

    looks like you folks had a good time! what with that yummy breakfast, the photography exhibition and the volvo ride. we should get to do more of this cross city meetings whenever possible! it’s a really nice way to interact with another city metblogger and know about the city in the process. so ravi, when are you going to sf? :)

  2. silkboard (unregistered) on April 23rd, 2007 @ 5:59 pm

    Did Mark come down on work, or was this a pure personal trip (for his novel?) ?

  3. Ravi (unregistered) on April 23rd, 2007 @ 6:04 pm

    @Anita: I agree with you that we should more of these cross city meetings! SF / US trip will happen sometime in the future, for sure!

    @SB: Purely a personal trip. Pls check Q3 as well.

  4. Lokesh (unregistered) on April 23rd, 2007 @ 7:16 pm

    Ravi, I think this article to me is real blogging. Stuff like this generally doesn’t get picked up by the mainstream media guys. Excellent, good job. yeah wish Mark the best in completing the novel.

  5. Ravi (unregistered) on April 23rd, 2007 @ 11:49 pm

    Thanks..that’s the most fulsome praise that I have ever seen around these parts!

  6. Anna (unregistered) on April 23rd, 2007 @ 11:56 pm

    Thanks for the interview Ravi! I am another SF-MB’er and appreciate hearing what interests you all in SF writers, and thanks to Mark for making a trip for his novel and being so diligent in blogging about it. I agree this kind of thing is so distinctly bloggerly! I love the B’ore blog.

  7. Ravi (unregistered) on April 26th, 2007 @ 12:27 pm

    You are welcome, Anna. Glad to know that you like the Bangalore Blog. Keep visiting and commenting! Thanks!

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