Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The evolution of post

I’m not going to talk about the rights to freedom of speech, liberty, expression etc. The desi blogworld is doing that well enough. If you want the updates on the action you had best go here.

Before technology intervened we relied on paper, pen and the post. It was a more romantic way I think, writing in your neatest hand, trying to get down all your news in aerogram or on embossed letterheads, in the best possible order, making as few scratched out mistakes as possible. There was also the anticipation of receiving a letter from your parents or friends or lover, covering the distance between you with words of affection and bringing you all the action you’ve been missing. The joy of reading and re-reading letters from dear ones, imagined bent over their desks in concentration composing just the right things to say. There were birthday cards, anniversary cards, just because cards and made up tapes of music, all reliant on the whim of the postal service. There were cultural missives from pen pals in extreme corners of the earth asking if we rode to schools on elephants or owned any tigers. There were our own replies setting the record straight and often trying to gauge the improbable cultural stories of a land unknown. There was the trepidation of mail lost, the short bursts of static conversation reiterating that you had written and that the mail service or the weather was to blame.

All in all it was an art to be a letter writer. An art that has now given way, buckled under the pressure, to a keyboard and an internet connection. E-mail, chat, informational websites, personal blogs and even on-line phone calls.

My parents are tech saavy. After a lifetime of working in an office where paper was dominant, my father taught himself how to use the whole MS suite on our dinosaur computer. And once she knew I was going to be living away from her home, my mum set-up an e-mail account and taught herself how to e-mail. Today they would not know how to go back to the old ways. They both use chat and e-mail to keep in touch with me and the Nik on a regular basis, to keep our phone bills manageable and to tell us things too mundane to waste on a phonecall. They also use computers extensively for work, e-mailing work related stuff back and forth in a way far more practical than smail mail. It’s the rare occasion that warrants buying a paper card and posting it.

I have veered so far away from my original thought that I have dropped off the side of the flat earth. Before I blogged I wrote a monthly e-mail to friends and family (which was so long that certain people admitted never getting to the end!) that was a newsy single version of the hundreds of letters I wrote in the days of snailmail. It was meant to give an essence of our lives here in London, far away from home, family, friends and all things familiar. It was meant to be a record of our lives in this new and exciting land. The most frustrating thing was the absolute lack of replies. It made a once joyful task a burden and I was soon looking for a suitable alternative to keeping in touch, to keep writing. The blog seemed a brilliant idea and the blogosphere a whole new world. I could write what I wanted, let everyone I previously e-mailed know where I was at and then it would be their choice to read it or not. The pressure was off my broad shoulders. The form of my writing changed from ‘We did this last weekend’ to more generic, often fictitious stuff, reviews for books and restaurant I liked, records of important times and memories in our lives. It somehow captured the essence of who I am without revealing who I am. It’s read by more unknowns than knowns and has opened up a whole new parallel world of interesting people, thoughts and ideas, all for a fraction of the cost and the saving of a rainforest of paper.

It took me an eon to explain blogs to my folks. It’s only recently that my mum has started to regularly look at my blog. And although I don’t write nitty gritty life detail on them she reads what I’m writing in the context of knowing me as her child. In some ways it is her window into my world. This blog is my letter home.

I won’t join in the ethical debates about blogging, its consequences and it being used as a possible harmful conduit of hate. I’ve heard all the arguments and seen all the interviews on NDTV (you know who you are!). Banning blogsites won’t achieve anything as the resilient human will find an alternate way soon enough.

In the meanwhile though my phone bills are set to rocket.


  1. The ban is over and blogger is back.

    I like what you wrote about bloggin. I so agree. It's been just over 6 months but I already feel I have made some good friends through my blog, some of who live halfway or further across the world

  2. The ban is over but my stupid ISP morons must be still asleep. :(

    This post views this issue from a different perspective. Interesting.


  3. Anonymous11:34 PM

    Guilty as charged!!! i however am a regular reader and check everyday. i just don't write any news emails any more...40in2006

  4. Anonymous11:15 PM

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  5. Rohini, I must admit I'm not feeling many growing friendships but I am reading a lot more interesting stuff. I sometimes miss snail mail!

    Me, I really have no point of view other than it's just plain stupid because humans are so much more intelligent. My view was merely about pen and post which I sometimes miss (although technology rocks)

    40in2006, don't worry about being a guilty party - pretty much our whole family is! At least you bother to read the blog...

    Creepy anon / Pharmax/ whoever this is: get lost!

  6. Hey there, now that I know of it, wish you a very Happy (though belated) Birthday!!! Hope your 31st year is one of your best ever yet with many better ones to follow!

  7. The mother of all posts. LOL Forgive my feeble attempt to sound funny. Yes, I certainly liked you post about post. It brought back memories of a nicer(?) time. The past does look lovely to reminisce about.

    And you post highlights a point - that addictions may change but the addict remains.

    Another wonderful post. Thanks :)

  8. For an old lady like me, I've found so many people that I can realted to that I might never have come across otherwise, through the blogosphere. I amd glad i found this place. Now I'm tryin to get my mum--89 this year--to blog too, or atleast read blogs.