Published: 20th April 2019
What we say is not Nonsense: How these Ahmedabad bloggers are helping the youth voice their opinion
Nathi Nonsense has also ventured into offline events like open mics that have given them the exposure they wanted
More often than not, young people are sidelined and told that they don’t have enough experience to comment — irrespective of the subject. But in recent times, we find youngsters taking a stand, and voicing their ideas, thoughts and opinions. “Nothing you think is nonsense.” says 19-year-old Manasvi Nag, co-founder of the blog-initiative Nathi Nonsense, that offers a platform for young individuals to bring out multiple perspectives through their online content and various offline events like open-mics, open-discussions and workshops. In a rather insightful conversation, Manasvi Nag breaks down the conception of Nathi Nonsense and what it seeks to offer to the youth. Excerpts:
What led to the formation of Nathi Nonsense? What gave you that idea?
It was founded by two of my friends — Manasvi Shah and Meghna, and I, while we were in Class X, preparing for our board exams. All of us used to write individually, and so we thought, ‘Why not start an initiative that supports local writers and artists?’ And Nathi Nonsense was born.‘Nathi’ in Gujarati means ‘Not’, so the concept was to prove people wrong when they say that teenagers and young people can’t take anything seriously. This is Nathi Nonsense. We’re not nonsense. We’re talking about some actual issues.
What kind of stories do you want to tell your audience? What perspective do you want to share with your audience?
We don't have a fixed topic. There are no restrictions as to what we want our writer to write about, but we do have categories they must pertain to. People can quote others and write perspectives on other people's work like Satyajit Ray, or George Orwell for example.
What do you want your audience to take away from Nathi Nonsense?
When I introduce Nathi Nonsense to someone who doesn’t know what it is, I expect them to believe and understand what people of our age group has to say. People of our generation aren’t really taken seriously by society. Those of us who come from Orthodox families have to face this more. You have to take our opinion into consideration as well and not just shoo us away because we are young. Apart from that, we should understand that art is not just a leisure activity — we have to inculcate it in our lifestyle. If we don’t do that, we’re pretty much machines.
What does Nathi Nonsense stand for, as an organisation?
We started off with an intention to support local artists and small-scale writers but we started writing about Ahmedabad, our city, as a whole. And now, we have our own events including open mics, open discussions, panel discussions, and workshops; with our own videos and video-shoots.
As a co-founder, how has constructing a platform like Nathi Nonsense helped your personal development?
I have to understand other people’s perspectives, and how to interact with them without imposing my own ideologies on someone else. we often find ourselves in a conflict between what the people want and what our perspectives are. That has really shaped me.
How do you think Nathi Nonsense has affected the people around you?
We were in Class X when we started this, and we didn’t really expect it to grow. But when we started branching out, people actually started reading it and they started talking to us about these things. Now people would just look at us and know that we’re from Nathi Nonsense, without even knowing our names. We actually felt like we were making an impact.
What do your offline events aim at? What is the general goal you keep in mind when you plan your open mics or workshops?
We were one of the first groups to start and popularise the concept of open-mics in Ahmedabad. We watched Airplane Poetry Movement and Kommuneity videos and wondered, ‘Why can’t we have that in Ahmedabad?’ and that’s how we started Mukammal, where we don’t have registrations or fee — anyone can walk in and perform. And we had Katharsis, which was a zine making workshop last week, where we collaborated with another team, Khidkee, targeting college students and aimed at bringing out political and social issues creatively.
What sort of an audience do you get at the events, or through your blog?
We cater to a wide audience from a variety of age groups, right from Class VIII-IX students, to adults. Even though we are based in Ahmedabad we’re looking forward to branching out to other cities.
What kind of responses do you get from people?
When we started holding offline events, the response we received was overwhelming and brilliant. After our first event, we actually got our own radio show; we were approached by people at Radio Nazariya, which is a community radio station based out of Ahmedabad. We get a lot of guest posts online, and we have a structure based out of that.