The story of my first vlog...Ashok's pav bhaji cart at the Fort Khao Gulley

Pic taken by Ankan Mandal

I am 40 I don’t do technology. Writing is what I like, video editing is beyond me.

After 7 years of food blogging, close to two years of food walks, I was wondering what next. The most obvious answer seemed to be vlogging or video blogging.

Years back when I had shot for the TravelChannel USA video, the cameraman who had come from the US (his name eludes me now) with massive lenses and cameras, told me that video blogging was where the world was headed.

A fact that was reiterated by my sister in law who works for Google recently and then by Aditi from YouTube. Aditi and I first met at the Indian Food Blog Awards and then at the Google office in Mumbai. She was very encouraging and said that I should give vlogging a shot. She felt that it was a natural progression. She gave me lot of practical tips to get started.

Now, I have done YouTube videos in the pastfor the India Food Network. That was different. There a crew had shot me cook and had edited the video too.

These were two of the biggest reservations I had. If I was to the video myself, how would I shoot? More importantly how would I edit? I was still scarred by memories of trying to edit VHS clips during my account planning days in the early 2014. I don’t belong to the generation that has grown up on computers and I am still reasonably tech challenged.

Yet, I was charged after talking to Aditi. I felt that I must crack this. I was inspired by my mother who has started typing her blog posts on her tablet instead of depending on others and then has moved to her own blog, Tabulous Mom. If she could do this at 67 there was no reason why I should not be able to do it too.

I thought that I could manage the shooting bit by being the voice behind the camera. How I would edit it still daunted me.

I decided to challenge myself and get out of my comfort zone. The journey would be thrilling for sure, and if I managed it, the joy would be endless. Except, I didn’t give myself ‘if’ as an option.

I first went to the Canon store and figured out how to use the video function on my Canon 1100 (!). I wanted to use the DSLR rather than my phone to shoot.

Then things began to work out. Ankan and Maithali, a couple who are friends of mine, kindly offered to come with me to shoot on a Saturday. We went to Fort, landed at the Homji Lane Khao Gulley and decided to shoot there. I took out the camera and shot the wizards of Khao Gulley at work. To get reactions to the food I shot Ankan and Maithali eat. Ankan then shot me as I tried to do the intros and fill ins. We had no idea what we were doing but this didn’t stop us from having loads of fun.

pic taken by Ankan Mandal

I then got in touch with another friend, Ira, a former colleague who used to do videos for our presentations at work using her Mac. We met at the Drawing Room one afternoon as she patiently tried to show me how to edit using iMovies. That seemed so beyond me that I felt hopeless at the end of the session. Ira suggested that outsourcing the editing might be a better use of my time. 

I spoke to K in the evening feeling forlorn. I seemed to have reached a roadblock after making a start. Outsourcing went against the grain of user generated vlogs that YouTube provided a platform. for Of course there are people who have teams working with them even for YouTube videos but there were enough people making their own videos. How were they doing it? And if they could, why couldn’t I?

I woke up next morning and headed to Candies with the MacBook K had given me. I was filled with renewed hope. I had no idea how I would do it but was determined to crack the editing hurdle.

I was inspired by something I read written by Dr Daisaku Ikeda, president of the Soka Gakkai International where he says that the 'Buddhist philosophy embraced by the members of the SGI, specifically that of the 13th century Buddhist reformer, Nicheren Daishonin - ... encourages people to regard their immediate surroundings as the arena of fulfilling their mission in life, even with beset with great difficulties, and aspire to create personal narratives that will be a source of enduring hope". (SGI President Ikeda's peace proposal 2014).

This was inspiring stuff and left me determined to crack the job at hand.

I sat with my sandwiches and coffee at Candies and started playing around with the laptop and lo, miraculously things began to fall into place. I slowly began to decode iMovies, the editing software. For those familiar with it, this is an easy task for sure, but for me it was quite unbelievable. I also decided to take baby steps like Aditi had suggested and ditched plans to do a Khao Gulley panorama and focused on just one stall instead.

I started putting a video together. I showed it to K when she got back and she gave me some suggestions and I worked on that. I kept uploading versions on YouTube and then updated them till I had something which one was proud of.

The video is far from perfect. Very very amateurish and basic. Has shots that are jumpy and out of focus. In fact the other footage is even more out of focus.The editing is not smooth. The audio could have woven a better story. I shot an introduction at home and had to reshoot as Banu walked past as she worked in the kitchen.

Still, let me tell you that nothing compares with the joy I felt when it was ready. At least I made a start. Hopefully this is the beginning of something good. Most importantly I had broken a huge mental block and got out my comfort zone and did it. That was a special high and was so inspiring. And it has taught me a lot for the next ones.

So here’s sharing my first vlog, produced with loads of support from friends and family.

The video features Ashok’s pav bhaji cart at Fort. A favourite stop of mine at the Homji Lane Khao Gulley. A place where Ashok has been practicing the art of making pav bhaji for 26 years.

I wonder how his first pav bhaji was like.

This is the link to the YouTube vlog: 


suvro said…
Good start! A journey of a thousand steps begins with one!

A couple of suggestions, from my observations of many food vlogs - Food Wishes, Thai Food Blog, etc. - the continuity of a live shot is best not interrupted with the cuts. You can insert voice overs to explain the next step, or superimpose text on the frames, but if you cut to a plain background with text, that distracts from the continuity.

You are well on your way to the next phase of your journey! Bravo!
sangeetha menon said…
So happy to see you Vlogging Kalyan.. It had been a very long time since I had been thinking of this too. Video blogging..

You made the start and I am motivated too... I am feeling a lot of hiccups already like am camera conscious, ye wo :P

Amazing video and am sure the upcoming videos will show alot of foods and the process in the making :)
Anonymous said…
Link not seen on mobile?
Unknown said…
with all due respect, you should stick to writing :-)
Anonymous said…
Great post! Love the video! What is your favorite restaurant? Remember to add it to your Besty List!
Anonymous said…
There is no doubt that your writing surpasses your Vblogging , but this is only Your first. You are sure going to get very good at it.So Keep it going. Can I suggest something - Write books with the plot of food around it . ....Like decoding the perfect biryani etc etc. You are the writer and I am not. If any porn gets high rating after sex porn it is Food Porn.