Like some folktale spun ages ago and handed down from generation to generation, this story begins with the tantalizing opening line : It all started with a phone conversation. Only this is no folktale. This is the story of how Fried Eye, one year young (I wouldn’t call it old, in any way) as of today, came to be. And how it took the shape of what it is right now. Just like new parents wanting to show off baby pictures of their first born to everyone they know, we would like our faithful readers, without whom Fried Eye wouldn’t even have lived this far, to walk with us back in time to some fateful day in September 2009, when it all began while Pramathesh Borkotoky, was talking to Noyon Jyoti Parasara on the phone.
At that time, Pramathesh Borkotoky was focused on Bamboo Lounge, a multilingual blog, along with Hashan Hazarika and Rakib Ahmed. When Noyon Jyoti expressed his desire to start a magazine which would provide a platform to the aspiring writers and poets of this region, Pramathesh pointed out that Bamboo Lounge was actually catering to that very need. However, Pramathesh did suggest launching a Friday supplement for Bamboo Lounge, the idea being to make it different from BL by including specific topics and emphasizing on quality content, and this idea was conveyed to Hashan and Rakib. Call it odd co-incidence, (we would like to believe it was destiny) but turned out both Hashan and Rakib had also had the same discussion just the previous weekend. A spontaneous decision was taken, and the casual exchange of brain waves turned into serious business. The notion of Fried Eye (a fake accent of Friday) was hence conceived.
Now this part is something that I have heard as part of the Fried Eye history from the Chief himself. Although they knew that they wanted to make Fried Eye big, they had no idea where to start from. The first person to be approached was Anupam Bhattacharyya, and he immediately started his work. If you like the way Fried Eye looks like, we have Anupam to thank for it, since he was responsible for all the graphics designing. Radhika Baruah (Myra B for you) was “next in line” and Pramathesh convinced her to join as Editor in the crucial initial stage. With her formal training in English and hence a polished hold over the language, there couldn’t have been a better choice. It was Kavita Saharia who was next approached, and she joined Fried Eye as Strategic Supervisor.
On 8th December 2009, the domain name was registered, and hence is considered as the foundation day of Fried Eye.
After much deliberation, discussion and planning, the first issue of Fried Eye was released on this very day exactly a year ago. Award winning documentary film-maker Bidyut Kotoky blessed the Fried Eye team with an article on his upcoming film “As The River Flows” in that very issue, and there couldn’t have been a better moral booster than that.
And so the ship had sailed and it was sailing smooth alright. But like all capital stories, this one, too has it own share of ups and downs. Afterall, what tale is entertaining minus all the theatrics? And yes, there were troubled waters ahead. Making an idea work when the team wasn’t even in one place was no easy job. What’s more, they were all different people from different walks of life, trying to fit in a new project in their varied lifestyles, each with their own routines and most of all a different thought process. The beginning of a grueling venture is never the most pleasant phase anyway. But like a true team, they all worked around it. New budding ideas for columns and articles, and creative inputs kept our e-zine sustaining. We were making it, rather slow, but steady.
That was history retold as per narration, but now make way for my version, folks. Fried Eye as witnessed by me. I got to know about Fried Eye through a friend who in turn knew Pramathesh from being involved with the same website (you’ll know a little later who that friend is). We were talking about how I am skeptical about sending out posts I had written for publishing when he mentioned Fried Eye. Call it co-incidence once again, (and once again I would insist it was divine intervention) but even without knowing that I had communicated with Fried Eye through the “Contact Us” portal, Pramathesh got in touch with me after going through my notes in Facebook. Hail social networking! Interestingly though, at that time I had no clue that he was indeed the Executive Editor of Fried Eye. After that it was nothing but — forgive me the cliché — legendary. Fried Eye gave me the platform to write my heart out and gratify myself by saying I am a writer! But wait, wasn’t that what Fried Eye had wanted to be in the first place?
I officially joined Fried Eye as Contributing Editor (Music) in April 2010. And while I insisted on writing about music and reviewing new albums, it was Manjil. P. Saikia, the same friend who got me in touch with Fried Eye, who insisted on the book reviews. Like Mani Padma once mentioned to me, we were the “kids” in the block. The next generation, if you must have it. And we were infused into Fried Eye, coming up with our own ideas sans reserve, to be run and then refined through the older and the wiser.
We were still being known only by word of mouth, with absolutely no promotional strategy, and by September, Pramathesh had figured out that we would need some kind of business interface to take us a notch higher. That’s where Ritupranab Gogoi (Better known as Duke) came into the picture, and joined Fried Eye to help us out. In November, our team grew by three more members as Manjil was officially given the charge of Technical Supervisor, Tinam Borah a mutual friend of Manjil and me, joined Fried Eye as Copy Editor, and Sanjeeta Thapa, an innovative food blogger and a friend of Mani Padma, joined us as Food Editor, giving Fried Eye a totally new dimension.
And such is the state of things right now. What initially started as a platform for creative writing with more focus on literary articles, has now morphed into a wannabe lifestyle e-zine, trying to encompass as varied content as possible, the intent being to diversify ourselves. We are not yet ready to get set in a mould, being in the experimental stage even after a year, but we would like to take it as bringing in an element of surprise with each issue. Like freelance writer Dagny Samrock puts it, “It has all the characteristics of a movement… and so it is one. It is new and it evolves… and it tries on new things… new ways.. and new ideas.” What? You thought we are immune to flattery? Of course not! We obviously get inspired when we hear good words about us…!
Nevertheless, getting slightly nostalgic about the year that has been, and looking back on the highs that made us feel good, we have to mention a few turning points. The columns Wise Bachelor and Miss Cellany were started to help our readers relate to us, the former would show the world as seen by a tongue-in-cheek man who was also a cynic, and the latter was to help people see the softer emotions of a woman, and how an ordinary woman with not so ordinary conditions perceives the minutest details of our world. 55 fiction, though creating quite a furor in the blogosphere, was comparatively less known by the non-blogging people, and hence we wanted our readers to get the taste of it through our 55 Fiction section. As for the mention worthy highs, like previously mentioned, Bidyut Sir’s article gave us the boost we needed right at the start. The article “Mouchak: A Honeycomb of Life”, which was also immensely well received by our readers, as it turned out that all of us have a soft corner for the magazine that we associate our childhood with, made us committed to focus special people in Northeast who went out to pursue their unconventional dreams. On June 1st, we published our very first band feature, wherein we interviewed Delhi-based band Bhairav. That proved to pave way for many more such features. Till date the article being read the most happens to be “The Romance That Gave You Goosebumps” by Noyon Jyoti, with the highest number of hits so far, and we consider that to be the benchmark for the kind of good-read we wish to provide our readers with.
What a year it has been for all of us! While both Hashan and Rakib have high hopes for Fried Eye in the coming year, and believe that we can make it better and bigger, I think us youngsters (myself, Tinam and Manjil) are all gung-ho to see what the next year will bring for us. What we lack in experience we try to make up with our enthusiasm! Pramathesh, who I dare to add, is The Man, as always, keep the spirit of Fried Eye alive by believing in it, no matter what. We all are from as different backgrounds as can be, none of us professional writers, few of us not even into a profession of any kind, busy still being students. But we are all truly “fried”, if you know what I mean! We cut our time into the thinnest possible slices to fit Fried Eye in. We lose sleep to make sure each issue gets published right on time, not having missed the deadline ever. We make our parents, siblings, friends and at some instances even our nephew write for Fried Eye.
We would be extremely ungrateful if we don’t mention a few people without whose support we would never have had the determination to move on. Our sincere thanks to Devanjal Bora, Hiyashree Sharma and Jonali Baruah for and helping us out. Heartfelt gratitude to Santanu Tamuly for going out of his way in helping us improve, and believing in us. Something as simple as taking his time out to give us suggestions has boosted us in ways beyond belief. Our writers and poets, including the regular columnists without whom we would be nowhere… Thank you for all the times you have enriched us with your writings, sometimes on demand, sometimes even at last minute notice. Thank you for helping us remain consistent. And finally, a big thank you to our family members. I don’t think we need to state the reasons why, since they are anyways countless.
And yes, it is true that “Content is King”.
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