I am no Shakespeare quoter but the ‘B’ alphabet has been somersaulting in my brainpan for some time. To cut it short, I am in a dilemma to blog or not to blog. What started as a travel blog, in 2010, meandered into different lanes, searching for the elusive category and “What has sustained me over the years is the thrill of the chase…” (Paul Theroux in FIGURES IN A LANDSCAPE.)
The Journey: The written word fascinated me with rhapsodical illusions of sensational political exposes, adrenaline propelled adventures, whirling by-lines and after a Bachelors degree I zip-wired into my hometown’s local English daily. ‘Dreams are made of these…’ but I had not bargained for the protectionist attitude of men and was assigned ‘safe’ topics…schools, women and social features.
It was the 70’s, the Women’s’ Movement was in full swing world over and my small town jumped into the fray with rallies and events. Unfortunately, there was no burning garments (might have shaken up the duplicitous gentry) and the one sartorial change was saris discarded in favour of pant-suits. Wikipedia divides the ‘history of the modern feminist movement into four waves’. The First…the women’s’ suffrage movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries’. Fortunately Indian women did not have to struggle for this right. ‘The Second wave was the liberation movement of the 1960s for social and legal equality for women. The Third wave was the focus on individuality and Fourth, around 2012, for fight against sexual harassment, violence against women, rape culture and ME TOO movement and equal use of social media’. The second and third was what we were witnessing with Gloria Steinem as the adulated self-styled emancipator-in-chief.
My first “Feminism’ rally and I goofed up big time. The rally had started with usual fanfare. Women speakers, mostly wives of political and industrial heavyweights managing to look officious in their chiffons and pearl strings, talking about breaking age old shackles and stepping out of homes. Pen poised I listened wondering whose time were they wasting… theirs or mine or the maid working in their homes so that they could clickity-clack around town.
One speaker, a prominent member of the Nehru clan (Former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi who belonged to Allahabad) was more boring than the others. The function over I promptly filed the report for next day printing. It was there in early morning edition and I walked into the reporter’s room expecting congratulatory acknowledgements. There were amused glances. The chief reporter filled me up with the happenings. The Nehru lady had stormed into the Editor’s office wanting to know why her speech was a ‘mere five lines’. The Editor had apologised, putting the blame on a new trainee and promised a full coverage to her. It was the first step to learning that egos cannot be tampered with. The next day there was a separate ‘speech’ on page 3 with photograph of the petulant lady.
Maybe this is reason why, till date, I do not lay authenticity on headlines and special content.
I dutifully attended the talks and the marches, writing features, interviewing women activists and pampering their false sense of entitlement. I admired genuine ‘warriors’, what they were doing and paving the way for the younger generation to choose careers apart from doctor, teacher, housewife. A friend had ‘broken’ into the newspaper world inspiring me and later more had followed suit.
Marriage and move to New Delhi whittled down my ‘reporter dreams’ to desk job, Content writing & freelancing as ‘ a daughter-in-law cannot do night duty’. In the 1980s it was still a man’s world and I remember being advised by a young newspaper Editor ‘As a brother my sincere advice for you is to stay away from these corridors’. I listened to the ‘brother’ and worked from home in whichever city and country we lived in. Another selfish reason was that I am not a 9 to 5 person and prefered my own work stations.
When people hyperbolise about countries visited, ‘More than 48 countries’ I look at them unimpressed. One can visit, fly in and out, buy souvenirs, trinkets, but to me it is artificial exposure to a land…nothing else. Travel is not just physical travel across continents but visual and mental reaching out to spaces and mindsets.
Travel writing with personal blog was the next step in my repertoire. I was no backpack toting solo traveler or a ‘how-to’ advice giver but a sedate luxury traveler following the crowd and looking for cushions to plonk on. Visits and long stays in different lands, Oman and Hong Kong, exposed me to diverse lifestyles and cultures presenting subjects worth pursuing. The search for the pleasurable in places and people followed me across North America, Australia, Middle East, China, India and I enjoyed what I was doing. At times I was tempted to click on advertisements to ‘buy’ followers but then I would not have felt ‘good’ about the 533 geniune ones.
2018 was turn-off point as going under a Cardiac surgeon’s scalpel slowed down my physical activities and minimised travel.
So back to the beginning….new decade, the 2020s, and a look around for clutches to stream across pages.
Or I should take Donald Trump’s advice to Greta Thurnberg ‘to act my age and just chill’.
The dilemma continues and TRAVTRAILS is active.