Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It must be spring..

This is a pretty time of year- you can see the signs and colors of spring in little things...

A few weeks ago pine tree and I wandered into Boom Babies on Westcott street - normally it has a ton of overpriced clothes (sort of hippy like, some vintage and some stuff from India) but on this day there was a buzz of something frenetic and distinctly eostregen-y about it. Indeed, prom is just around the corner and the store was crammed with sulky teenagers and harried/pushy moms looking over shimmery gowns. There was even a sign outside that warned 'boyfriends and men' (because boyfriends are boys, not men?) to stay away from the store- which was probably wise.

Pine tree and I wandered around enjoying the bling and the conversations...

This is from the farmers market which will soon move outside...tulips are now sprouting all over the ground..

And finally, this beautiful magnolia tree outside tulips house in full bloom...

The scent was heavenly...

I don't have a picture unfortunately of the wild, outdoor block parties that also accompany the onset of Spring (which leave the air redolent with other types of scents - equally natural, more potent if you *ahem* catch my drift) or the new fashion statements that seem to appear around this time of the year but I suppose that's just as well.

What signals the arrival of spring to you?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Worth Words

One of the first poems I ever knew was 'Daffodils' by William Wordsworth. If I concentrate hard, I'm sure I could still recite most of it. I probably learned it when I was 11 or 12 years old as it is a standard favorite in Indian schools. I even remember taking part in a poetry recitation/elocution contest in the 5th grade where I recited it. I came in second or third and got my first ever certificate for anything.

The funny thing is I had never actually seen a darned daffodil. In the tradition of many British references I grew up with (thanks to Enid Blyton and Wodehouse), there was no context to this poem in my real life.

So imagine my delight when a couple of days ago I was wandering around school reveling in the onset of Spring and suddenly came upon these beautiful yellow flowers.

Finally, almost two decades later-daffodils!

Here's the thing- I immediately knew that these were daffodils- solely from the description in the poem. Well done Wordsworth.

I wonder how many kids in India and around the world still learn this poem and wonder what the hell a daffodil looks like. Thanks to the internet, they may no longer have to wait!

Now, if only I could find out what kippers are...

Status update: feeling like a twit

Earlier today I deactivated my facebook account. In the cyberworld, this is a phenomenon called 'facebook suicide'. I committed it once before and then came back from the dead. Deactivating facebook (you cannot ever delete your account, creepily enough) is a strange ritual- first facebook aalyzes you- it asks you why you're doing it and depending on your reply, tries to offer suggestions for how you can stay. (For the record- I have no deep reason for doing it- I'm just sick of checking it but more on that later). So if for instance you pick 'I'm spending too much time on facebook', it offers you the option not to receive emails from it. Then it tries to go for your heart strings- I was told I'd be missed by Tulip, my sister, Machete and other close friends, with pictures from my albums of them. When I continued to do it steely eyed, facebook sadly told me that it hoped I would come back soon. And then I clicked the window and sat back and instantly felt a strange combination of weird and free. Weirdly Free.

It's not going to be easy - this little break. From my previous experience I know that I will feel like there is a whole world out there that is going on without me, even though the friends I'm most concerned about are the ones I see or speak too everyday. People will slowly notice I'm not on it and will ask if I'm ok, with genuine concern. And what's more, I'll understand why they're asking. I will feel a compulsion to share bits of my life like "read an amazing book" or "had a lazy saturday" and will have no avenue in which to do it (my break also entails no twitter, which will not be hard at all). I will feel like there are happenings, events and news that I'm missing out other words, it will be like quitting anything addictive- not easy but potentially good.

When did it get like this? And what does it have to do with my resuming blogging (is this a nicotine patch to the facebook cigarette)?

Well, I've been thinking about how I use technology lately and much of it has centered around my poor, abandoned blog. When I wrote my little preemptive ditty last month, I scarcely anticipated this complete silence. I thought the frequency of my posts would go down a little but no blogging at all? Sadly a month later, my blog lies in cyberspace- sad, neglected, gathering dust...I look at it fleetingly and think about it guiltily before glancing away. I promise myself 'I'll blog about it' whenever something interesting comes up and yet, never get around to doing anything about it. Like old friendships and correspondence with distant relatives- intentions never translate into anything concrete.

But there's another reason for my prolonged silence apart from the busy-ness and laziness: A couple of weeks ago Margaret Atwood (whom I admire from what little I've read of her) said in the context of blogging and the advent of twitter ""It's like everyone's blogging about how they brushed their teeth this morning." I'd like to think my posts have been slightly deeper than that but the comment got me thinking. Maybe one reason I've been so unmotivated to write anything is because there is nothing truly compelling that I have to say? And so, isn't silence better?

That sounds depressing but I'm not. I just wonder if in this compulsion to constantly 'broadcast ourselves' (to borrow from youtube), what we have to say is becoming less and less meaningful? There is just so much of it, all the time and all written in pretty much the same blogese. You know what I mean-'snark', lists, open letter format, wtf stories, mock confessions that are designed to make you look cool even as you're professing to be a nerd... it's all quite formulaic and you've seen it all on this blog too. We are constantly inundated with people telling us about themselves- through you tube videos, blogs, status updates, profiles, tweets and it's slowly become part of the rhythm of our daily lives.

I've been pondering and questioning this constant need to communicate. Who are we all communicating to? For what purpose? What kind of narcissism is this? And is it really making us stupider, less sensitive and giving us the attention spans of goldfish? The answers to these questions, from my experience and what I've been reading, are not comforting.

And it all happened so quickly and subtly. A couple of years ago I had no idea where my casual acquaintances were once they left my immediate context. People faded out of my life -as they should in the normal course of events- one heard about them once in a while and that was that. Then came facebook - initially just an innocuous, fun way to stay in touch with people from school, check people out anonymously etc. Gradually it became part of my everyday routine- check email, read news, check facebook. And I'm not even a heavy user of it. It's own evolution meant that it became more and more difficult to escape what was happening in people's lives who you don't care about but are now just permanently there I find myself wondering 'what's X doing lately?' and look him/her up only to find that they went to a party, or watched a movie and hated it or bought groceries. I might not have seen X in 3 years and have no idea about how they're really, truly doing but I know when they buy groceries. It's relentless-the constant status updates, the newsfeeds, the emails with updates, the casual way that deep, life changing things get broadcast to the world 'X is no longer listed as in a relationship' or 'Y just had a baby'. A quick smiley face on their page and you're done. Now we have twitter, which takes the vacuousness to another level altogether-and ofcourse everyone, (including yours truly) is on it.

Am I making too big a deal of it? I'm sure I am but all I know is that I've felt a need to step back from the inanity of 'broadcasting myself'.

The good news (to me at least) is that while the rest of it I deem pretty dispensable, I realized the genuine, aesthetic pleasure I find in writing. Even a small, blog that 8 people read. Even when it's shoddy. Even when it's inane. Because it's 8 people I know and who know me and whose opinions I value. And it's really the only medium in all of this that has brought me pleasure. And so here I am, blogging away at 12 in the night- and it feels good!

And to facebook? I'm sure I'll come back to your seductive ways one day but not without a fight. Don't call me, I'll call you.