Google is shutting down Reader. That is already old news. Most readers have migrated to other sites providing similar service. I sit here and look at my blank Google Reader page and wonder. The list of blogs on the left - there are no new posts anymore. Do I belong to a bygone era? "Oh I used to blog", I say. I don't blog anymore - surprisingly, none of my limited reader base does either (except, well, you know who you are) Don't interesting things happen in our lives anymore? Have we lost the ability to compose? Are we more busy than we were?
Perhaps it was just a time - an era - of blogging that we were all part of at the same time. Like some rock n roll era - it was good while it lasted, but we can't have it back. We've moved on - like life does.
As I am forced to move from Reader, I wonder how many of the blog links I should carry over to whatever new service I get on to. Does it even make sense to do that? Will any of these blogs which have been silent - some for years now - ever see a new post grace its page again? Perhaps not. But what if it did? Would it bring the same joy it once brought me? Oh yes! And so I carry on hoping.
Perhaps it is borne out of the need to see something very different from their own surroundings and the world they grew up in, but whatever the reason, many travellers use the word "real" to denote something negative - like poverty or corruption. Some travellers aren't satisfied that they have seen the "real" people until they have seen someone dying of hunger. Maybe I should not read too much into this, because when we say that we have seen the "real" face of a person, more often than not, it means we have seen their less than good side. But I still cannot shake off my belief that the word "real", in connection with travel, has been blatantly misused. Why should you go to a one room mud hut to meet a "real" person? What about the rest of the people? I concede that sometimes a tourist is so insulated by the machinations designed by the tourism industry for the comfort, and exploitation, of its guests, that they often come away with a very different perspective of the daily realities of the natives. But it has been my long standing view that true understanding of "real" can never be achieved without using true scales and measures whatever be the experiences you have - insulated or otherwise. I believe understanding comes from within. Here, allow me to quote The Doors, "People are strange when you're a stranger". As I'd mentioned before we will always judge others using our own standards not theirs. Wherever we go, our sense of reality is determined by the yardstick that we carry within ourselves at all times. "Real" is all around you - you just have to see it. Oh, let me just come to the point. Don't come up to me and tell me that you want to see the real India unless you have a very good answer to, "Oh, so you think I am a fake Indian from fake India?"
Now that the dictators have been toppled all should be well.
What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans, and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty and democracy? - Mahatma Gandhi
Oh the pressures to blog! For some reason, after coming home my brain couldn't come up with spontaneously ingenious sharable thoughts. Guess I'll just have to stick to youtube links and posting all my songs here to keep going. Last I checked, my iTunes has 8.7 days worth of songs in the list - that's 3125 blog posts waiting to happen.
Or, like I was thinking the other day, I could draw up a five year plan - one of those long term goals which was all the rage in socialist India's beginnings. And then I'd know where I'll stand when I'm 30. 30!! I'll be 30 in five years!! I've always seen 30 year olds as wise, mature and sober family men who have left the follies of youth behind (and sport a thick beard and moustache) When I suddenly realised that I was just a little over a World Cup away from that reality, I panicked. I would have completely succumbed to that panic attack and would have been screaming and writhing on the floor if I hadn't been the cool dude that I am. I tried to rationalize. In the coming five years a lot many things would happen and it wouldn't seem so short. Plus there was a possibility that I might just retain some of the youthful spring in my step. But it became increasingly imperative that I plan on something to do to my life to help counter and balance what my life would do to me - like not being a student anymore; having to file tax returns and buy insurance; having to decide where to settle down; not having the luxury of being crazy or opinionated; of getting married; of putting yourself second to the greater good of mankind!
Suddenly the pressure of creating a 5 year plan started outweighing the pressure to blog, and here I am again to vent. Have you been here before? Advice! Advice!
I've always wondered about the western fascination with summer and the wonderful sun. Maybe to appreciate it, I'll have to go live somewhere where they see the sun as a wonderful thing to behold and a harbinger of happiness. But seriously, what does some random Brit know about the sun? "I'll follow the sun", he says. Try it for an hour over here and you'll never sing that song again! Phrases like "going out in the sun", "getting a tan" are used in happy positive sentences. How weird! In summers where I come from, get out any time between 8am and 8pm and you are bound to be greeted by the sun of your nightmares. The one that brings drought and famine across the land. The parched earth it produces is like those wrinkled old women who have forgotten about the youth that will never be theirs again. We have ways to survive this annual phenomenon called summer. The vacations help us in avoiding quite a bit of it. The rest of the time, schools in many places open earlier so the kids don't get burned into ashes by the time they get to school for the morning assembly, which, in my school-going days was another battle against heatstroke. Though it wasn't "manly" to carry umbrellas in the sun, trying to walk in the almost pin-point shadows cast by thirsty trees was cleverness not cowardice. Everyone is also concerned about turning into a darker shade of brown and people have devised many personalised ways of beating this. Covering yourself with cotton clothes from head to toe each time you step out, umbrellas, staying indoors... So what is the best part about summer? The knowledge that the brilliant monsoon will come and wash away the weariness!