My Rushdie Explains India adventure on Twitter came to a close a week ago, after an exhilarating seven-week run that wildly exceeded any expectations I might have had of the parody account, which started out as an in-joke among a few friends. In no mean measure, the account was able to go on for so long thanks to the generosity of folks on Twitter who sustained and fed it with their energy, comments, and critique. In the slightly amended words of a song from my pre-adolescent days watching the pre-Grammys and Grammys on Doordarshan in the early ’80s, they stuck through the good jokes and the bad jokes.

In an appropriately literary reversal of convention, the account blossomed into anonymity as it grew. I did not attempt to conceal my identity initially and ran the tweets on both my own Twitter account (@rchops) and @RushdieExplains for a couple of days. But the few interviews I did related to the account, starting with Scroll, offered me the option of being anonymous, which I gladly took up. That became part of the experience, and my sense is that readers do welcome that in a parody account in particular. Some people figured out who I was quite easily but were kind enough to keep the illusion going.

It has been a fascinating experience for me in all kinds of ways. It gave me a chance to pay homage to Rushdie and other writers while being able to reflect and comment on things that matter to me. I discovered wonderful Twitter feeds and blogs and got a sense of all the truly remarkable folk on Twitter. The account allowed me, among other things, to indulge myself in nostalgia for the 1980s, that simultaneously materially impoverished but culturally rich time of my lapse into sentience in India. One very interesting thing I realised is that for several decades till the 1980s many Indians had the same reference points on the cultural landscape: Thums Up, Standard Herald cars, Boney M, and so on. But for post-liberalisation generations, with vastly greater consumer choices, these objects don’t quite have the same import. It is always a bit startling to realise that one’s cultural experiences are not universal. I learned that there is a large number of literary quotes and phrases that work very well if one simply replaces a word or phrase with the word ‘tweet’ in them. Through happenstance I stumbled upon the Twitter accounts of some Bollywood folks. Their penchant for quasi-inspirational, Hallmark style feel-good tweets with lots of exclamation marks is really bizarre; as if everyone in Bollywood is smoking Deepak Chopra (mercifully no relation).

The account was also an apprenticeship in the sociology of Indian humour. The political stuff really plays, especially Modi, the RSS, Rahul Gandhi. Baba Ramdev is a reservoir one can endlessly draw on. Arnab Goswami and Chetan Bhagat were the gifts that kept on giving, reflecting the profoundly ambivalent co-dependent relationship they have with the Indian people. Much as they might get on our nerves, I don’t think we can manage without them! I really need to send them cheques to say thanks. Dr Subramanian Swamy’s and Tavleen Singh’s tweets were comic genius even without meaning to be so: I really experienced what Harold Bloom called “the anxiety of influence” in trying to measure up to them.

I ended the account last week by outing myself from anonymity. I think the account had kind of run its course. It’s not for me to say whether it was a success or not but it was running the risk of getting repetitive. It had moved a bit from a mix of mock Rushdieesque affectation and commentary on India to more of just the latter. It made sense to bow out while the persona was still largely coherent. The account began in the immediate aftermath of the elections and ending it shortly after the Modi government’s honeymoon phase ended seemed apposite. Outing myself also provides a safeguard against the temptation to keep coming back and squandering whatever goodwill I might have accumulated. I think the theatrical unveiling – which was thoroughly self-indulgent, I admit, but dear reader, you will surely not grudge me that – was a suitably literary way to end it. The icing on the cake was a wonderfully gracious congratulatory email that I received from Salman Rushdie on Wednesday, expressing his enjoyment at the account.