The month of April marks two special anniversaries for all of Amritapuri.org’s dedicated fans.
It was on Vishu Day of the year 2000 (15th April) that your favorite website was launched. Two weeks earlier, the first issue of Amritavani, E-newsletter was emailed to addresses that had been collected from previous e-mails.
It was during a lunch stop with Mother during North India Tour 2000 (February-March) that Dhyanamrita came to find me with a biggest smile on his face and proudly announced: “Cheerful!” I smiled back and thought he was referring to that precious quality that spiritual aspirants should maintain. “Cheerful…” he repeated, “firstname.lastname@example.org!” He then went on explaining with great excitement that this was his new ’email address’, and started to challenge me whether I could invent something as creative and inspiring… I remember coming up with ‘joyful’, ‘smily’ and ‘morecheerful’…
Remember, this was 7 years ago, a time when personal email addresses were still uncommon, and you would think that they exclusively belonged to highly computer initiated ones…
Two weeks later, as the North India Tour was nearing its end, at another lunch stop, Dhyanamrita finds me again and with a determined tone says:
– “You should stop the tour organizing seva! I am starting an Amma website. You have to help me…”
– “A website!? You are creating a website? Or you mean that you will ask professionals to do it?… Where to find such people?”
– “No, we will simply start and we will learn along the way… Help will come. I already collected a lot of information since…… yesterday! I asked Amma this morning permission to start an E-newsletter and she asked me to start a website…”
When we returned to Amritapuri, Dhyanamrita disappeared for a whole week, and I had forgotten about his dreamy project… When I saw him next, his eyes were shining, like those of a kid enjoying a choicest new toy: “Amritapuri.org”, he said, “That will be the name of the website. You like it?” It took me few seconds to realize how fully engrossed he had become in his project… “Come to the computer room tonight! I’ll show you what I have already come up with!”
His presentation was followed by tests and trials and lasted till 5am… This helped me understand a bit clearer what was involved in such a project, and to have further confirmation about how utterly unrealistic it was for one or two ‘web-design ignorant’ people to ‘create’ a website from scratch and in the shortest time… I couldn’t tell Dhyanamrita how I really felt, and break his enthusiasm. I just enjoyed making jokes about the whole thing, and could at least go to bed that morning in a fun mood… as the morning archana was well underway in the prayer hall!
“Come back tomorrow night!” were his last words…
In these days, the internet connection was very slow, and the computer room crowded all day long. Night was really the best time to do some significant work on a project like that…
Few nights later, I was already fully tuned to my new schedule: Working all night long. Going to bed at 6am. Getting up at noon for lunch. Doing other sevas in the afternoon and rejoining the computer room from 5pm onwards for web design work or rather web-‘playing around and testing’ fun time… While learning how to use the hotmetal web-design program, we tested a whole cocktail of various stuff and fonts and colors each night… Just imagine trying to write before you really know the alphabet!?
A few students from AICT would come from time to time and clean up some tremendous mess we had built up. Thus, we proceeded, and soon (Only by Amma’s Grace!) the first issue of Amritavani was shapping up and we fixed April 1st as a day to send it.
On 31st March, Dhyanamrita shows up around 5pm, with two small bags on his shoulders: “We can’t get the e-newsletter sent from here. We have to send it from AIMS! A car is leaving in 15 minutes. Get ready!”
We reached AIMS for dinner. After tremendous struggles we succeeded in sending ‘Amritavani # 1’! Well, it took till about 4am to succeed, as in the first sending attempts, some addresses were getting it 10 times (Nice April Fool’s Day joke, eh?) while others received none!
Today, I wish to make all the amritapuri.org faithful happy, by asking Dhyanamrita to please resend that 1st issue to everyone for the 7th anniversary (I secretly kept a copy saved)… Let’s put it that way: First, that issue had the elements of an encyclopedia (you might need yet another 7 years to read it fully). Secondly, from a purely artistic point of view, it is really a rare piece of art that changes its colors and fonts according to each computer’s settings each time you click to view it… Like Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, every viewer thinks she is looking at him/her…
April 1st 2000, 4:30am: As I was already enjoying the thought of going to sleep, the ‘creator of amritapuri.org’ says: “Let’s take a bus now to Palakkad! We will catch another bus to Ettimadai from there… We have to start working on the website!”
Of course, absolutely no chance to sleep or rest on the relentlessly bouncing bus… We reached Palakkad at about 6:30am, freezing from the blowing wind and absolutely exhausted. The next bus was at 7am, a waiting time that I spent observing a big black dog sleep near the bus stand’s shops, and hoping that they would open so I could buy some biscuits for myself, for cheerful.com and for the lucky black dog who knows nothing about websites and can thus sleep at night!
The driver of the next bus was a medal-winning road maniac. I had reasons to believe that he believed the vehicle couldn’t move without the horn continuously blasting… What on earth is the matter with him? Well, maybe he hadn’t gotten the chance yet to check his email that morning…
Ettimadai was reached: 8am… time to go to bed!
For the next 10 days (sorry, nights…), in the beautiful natural surroundings of the Ettimadai campus, the work was progressing. With the help of qualified computer experts and students, amritapuri.org got a more presentable look (and spell-checked!)…
My main input for amritapuri.org’s style came from my passion for soccer. As I browsed to check on a multitude of websites to help us select how we wanted ours to look, I visited many soccer sites! I learned two important things from those sites, and incorporated them in the new site:
1- Have a ‘latest update’ section, so that the site remains ‘alive’ and attractive.
2- Use more photos than text and articles for recent information; as they are much faster to upload, and carry a deeper message… Vasanas put to best seva use!
And talking about vasanas I’d like to recommend for you all to ask for a ‘crispy’ dosa next time you order an Indian breakfast… They taste especially super at 6am in the Ettimadai campus kitchen, just before one goes to sleep… as I discovered then. And it’s Ok to ask for seconds!
Below are the screen shots of MotherPage in various years.