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About Me

I am an independent writer and multi-award winning blogger who writes on parenting, humour, fiction and general lifestyle topics. - Sid Balachandran

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Category: Opinion

On Gender Equality and being trolled

On Gender Equality and being trolled

So it finally happened.

 

Truth be told, I’ve been expecting this for a while so I cannot say that I am entirely shocked or surprised. After all, this is what social media has been largely reduced to. A place for anonymous and faceless trolls to align themselves with an agenda and not engage in healthy discussion, but just try to beat others into submission.

 

It wasn’t the social media that most of us signed up for, but hey, this is what it has become. Yes, everyone is entitled to their opinion; but that’s what it is – YOUR opinion; so say it, but don’t beat others over the head with it.

 

Anyway, on to the subject matter. Today, amongst other things, I was called an armchair activist for gender equality and told that I’m someone who won’t walk the walk. To the people (yes, more than one!), apparently, I am like the thousands of others who just sit and harp on about gender equality and do nothing about it in reality to break stereotypes. Of course, not to mention the other messages which went along the lines of:

 

You’re a SAHD because you’re sad (Yes, great work with the pun! )

You’re just an attention whore who does nothing to empower anyone. You have a rich wife, so it’s nice to sit at home.  

And of course, the very stereotypical, You are not being of any use to society. By nature women are the primary caregivers and it’s not a man’s place to change equations.

 

Of course, some of the others I can’t really put up, because hey, family audience 😛. And I did try to amuse them by pointing them to my blog and the various write-ups, but they were obviously having none of it.

 

Now, I don’t think I owe anyone an explanation about what I do and why I do what I do, but this is important for me to get it off my chest.

 

I am a strong believer of gender equality and do whatever I can to help reach or get closer to that point. So, while I may be an armchair activist for many other things, I think over the past few years I’ve tried to do whatever little I can to help support the cause.  I did not become a SAHD so that I could sit at home and watch TV all day, or just enjoy while my wife went to work. It came on the basis of a lot of discussion and practical considerations where it made perfect sense for my wife to go back to work and for me to be around for a few years so that our son had someone around.

 

Yes, it may not have been a pre-planned thing, but I refuse to let anyone, least of all some faceless trolls, belittle it by saying that I did it to seek attention.I did it because to us it did not matter who went to work and who stayed at home because of our gender. It mattered to have one parent at home, and I gladly took on that role. It has been a learning curve and I learn new things every day, just like my wife would have, had she been the stay at home parent.

 

 

I agree that I am perhaps generalising here but look closely. All around, perhaps right in your own home, you will find instances of situations that reek of gender inequality. For instance, I personally know women who have chosen to be homemakers. And that’s a valid choice – the idea being that they are free to choose their own path without external influences. Now take a look again. How many women do you know who have perhaps been asked to stay at home once they became a parent? Perhaps quite a few. Now, I ask – how many men have been asked to stay at home once they became a parent? Yes, you hear that awkward silence – that’s the truth. Why is that? It’s largely conditioning, don’t you think?

 

Similarly, I know career women who manage both their careers and things at home successfully. But here’s another question. Why do they have to? Again, at the risk of generalising, a lot of men still don’t. IT’s not that they are incapable of balancing their work and how they contribute around the house. They can if they choose to.  And this is where the conditioning factor comes in. Some people say it’s not expected of them. In fact, I’ve even heard a couple of men say that they (spouses) don’t want their help. Perhaps the issue is that they’re looking at it as help. It’s not helpit’s called doing your bit. You are partners and that means equal responsibility. Treat them as you’d want to be treated.

 

So yes, I will continue to work in whatever way I can to ensure there’s a world where women aren’t forced or made to feel guilty for wanting to choose to go back to work after being a mother and a work where fathers can take on the responsibility and primary caregiving without having his intentions and masculinity questioned.

 

So men here’s your new definition of man-up. Take responsibility and don’t shame or emotionally blackmail your wife or partner (or any one!)for going back to work if she chooses to or for apparently choosing her career over her kid. She has a life outside the kid and you – don’t be that douche who sticks to the mentality that women ARE or MUST BE the primary caregivers and that if they do go to work, they must after they make sure your lunch boxes are packed and kids are ready to go to school. You wouldn’t do it to yourself, would you? Why expect them to?

 

And women, if a man chooses to break the mould and be the primary caregiver, support them. Encourage them. Breaking stereotypes is difficult. I know. I’ve been through it.

 

Remember, we are all in this together. In this age, if you still think a woman’s place is in the kitchen or being a domestic goddess, or her only identity is that she’s the mother of the kids – then YOU are part of the problem, not the solution.

 

And enough with parenting being seen as primarily a mother’s territory. Yes, we’ve made some progress, but it’s not enough. Look around you. What we need is an attitude shift, and a willingness to accept the responsibility to be that change.

 

 

Oh, what a wonderful world!

Oh, what a wonderful world!

Growing up, I used to watch a lot of two cartoon shows called ‘The Jetsons‘ and ‘The Flintstones’(Millennials reading – You’ll probably need to Google this; it’s way before your time) 

 

For the uninitiated, The Flintstones was set in the stone age, but the characters face modern conundrums; well as modern as things were in 1960s. On the other hand, The Jetsons was set in, what I can only call a futuristic Utopia world  of sorts, where technology and machines, quite literally, had a hand in everything.

 

The Jetsons had an all-in-one robot called Rosie who was pretty much the lifeline of the family. She did almost everything. Or so I thought. Until I recently caught a few episodes trying to see if my son would enjoy the cartoon. That’s when I realised that even Rosie, the robot maid who was meant to do everything, only did the non-trivial things. That’s because the Jetsons lived in what we today call a smart home. Quite literally a home that took care of all the trivial things at the push of a button. Okay, maybe a few.

 

Of course, all of this was envisaged to be the norm in the year the Jetsons were set in – 2062 to be precise, I think. We’re in 2017 now, and considering that we are already dreaming about vacations to the moon, I think we’re pretty much on track.

 

I believe it was Plato who once said that ‘Necessity is the mother of all inventions’. I sort of disagree. I think laziness is.

 

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose” display_mode=”box”]We are forever trying to find ways to do more with less (or no) effort. [/tweetthis]

 

And while in India we fondly often call it jugaad, it is the art of invention as its very best. So unless we consider ‘laziness’ as a necessity, I think the quote is probably debatable 🙂

 

Today, we are busy building gadgets that will help us save time by automating the trivial processes. Gadgets that we call ‘labour-saving’ devices. They exist for the sole purpose of making our lives in this world a little less stress-free. From Artifical Intelligence software like Apple’s Siri with its smart quips to self-driving cars and trains. Why we even have houses that have been printed on a 3D printer. I just hope they don’t decide to 3D print humans to live in it.

 

Most of us are probably old enough to remember the first TVs in our houses. Ours was a Sony. It had 8 channels. And here’s something for you kids – it had no remote. Yes, no remote. So every time we had to change the channel, we had to walk up to the TV and press a physical button….oh, and each channel had a separate button. And not to mention, turning the volume up or down was another trying affair.

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose” display_mode=”box”]Back in the day, walking up to the TV to change channels constituted our daily workout routine. [/tweetthis]

 

Today you could walk into your living room and the TV would automatically​ switch on, even greet you and maybe even select the channel that you’re thinking about. Okay, spy on you too, if the current US government is to be believed. Although if my TV did that, it would mostly find footage of us arguing about what to watch. Or maybe a lot of instances where we’re searching for the remotes.

 

In fact, soon we’ll all have robots effectively doing everything for us – from waking us up to even clothing us. I’m totally naming mine JARVIS though! Or maybe I should give it Scarlett Johansson’s voice from HER. Uff, too many choices!

 

We even have edible printed food these days. Remember how they used to write about pills that could give you an entire day’s energy? Probably not a thing of science fiction anymore. Even with wearable technology getting so popular (apparently it’s risen by 400-odd% in the past 5 years), your doctors (assuming they’re still human!) already know your basic stats before you even check into the hospital or clinic. So we’re getting there. [I know privacy of the data is a concern – but I’ll do another piece on that later]

 

Just to confess – I am absolutely not against technological advancements that help the world. In fact, I am an early adopter for most gadgets. Or rather, I would be if I had the money. [Which is probably why I don’t – damn vicious circle!] But sometimes I can’t help wonder if all the stuff that we’re inventing to make our lives easier, are also holding us hostage in some way. Like how we desperately hunt for a charger, when the battery indicator on your smartphones automatically activates the low-power mode. Or when the ‘check engine’ light in your car turns on. (Yes, Sheldon Cooper – we saw that!)

 

Of course, the plus side remains that for all this to happen, humans are still very much in demand. For we possess the power of perseverance and the out-of-the-box thinking ability to program these machines. The world is therefore still our oyster, so to speak. But once the machines learn to evolve and adapt, well, we won’t be left with much to do.

 

Except maybe sit and get old and die. Or worse, maybe we’ll just die of the boredom from not having to do anything strenuous. Or maybe, we’ll just freeze our bodies and auto-time it to wake up 10 years in the future in a world where perhaps we’re the minions instead of the machines being ours.

 

Of course, considering that we are still debating women’s rights and equality in 2017, people are dismissing Global Warming as just hocus-pocus, and some are still arguing about our rights to eat what we want – things that should have been sorted a long time back – I guess we’ll still have something to do. 

 

Maybe there will be an app for that.

On the other hand, we still have these – Enjoy the slideshow! 🙂

 

[GIFs courtesy : Giphy.com]

*jugaad – hack.

On love, relationships and #WhatWomenReallyWant

On love, relationships and #WhatWomenReallyWant

[Okay – that may have been a click-bait title. Or maybe not.]

 

A few days back, I had a rather interesting conversation with a slightly younger friend, about love, marriage and relationships in general.

She said, (and I quote almost verbatim):

“Everywhere I turn these days, I see relationships breaking up. And what surprises me is that most of them seem to be love marriages. I can understand arranged marriages falling through – often they are from different backgrounds and have almost nil in common. But surely, love marriages – the ones that seem to be built on premises of having known each other for a certain duration and having interacted a lot more before marriage – how do they fail, I wonder. I’m slowly losing faith in love itself”.

 

For a moment, I was tempted to answer that she was probably looking for love in the wrong direction. And that probably a lot of these relationships break up because of late realisation of things such as incompatibility, chemistry and not knowing what they really want from the relationships. But I didn’t. Mainly because I didn’t want her to be any more disenchanted with love that she already seemed to be. I did think about this for a few days, but in the end, I just let it be.

 

Now, as some of you may know, recently I had the opportunity to be part of a panel discussion organised by Women’s Web. Coincidentally, the topic was #WhatWomenWant in love and relationships, and the lovely folks over at WW thought it’d be a great idea to get a male perspective on it too. [Of course, it’s a totally different matter that I was quite literally sh****ng my pants on the run-up to the event because I’d never spoken at an event previously.]

 

Anyway, the discussion went rather well with the audience chipping in with a few view points of their own. There were a few contrasting opinions too, as one would expect when having a discussion on a topic like love and relationships. But, it all came down to one thing. Why do relationships seem to run into trouble a lot more today and what has changed?’ Which brings me back to the point that my friend had made earlier.

 

So here are a few thoughts (coupled with a few of the takeaways from the discussion):

 

Inherently, I don’t think men and women want different things from love and relationships. Gender, irrespective, what we all want is someone who, in spite of all our differences and quirks, will support us, be by our side, knock some sense into us when needed and be willing to stick it through till the end. I realise that this suspiciously sounds like a ‘friends with benefits’ kind of scenario, and in a lot of ways, I think love in its entirety is something like that. Except that the ‘benefit’ isn’t just …well…sex.

 

The concept of love has certainly evolved over the years. But deep down, I think we have a rather skewed definition of love. Thanks to books, technology, movies and so on,  we all (okay, I’m generalising) have this very rosy definition of love. Yes, the mush and gooey-ness are very much present, but it’s impossible to keep it going 24×7 365 days a year. Why? Because we’re real people. We have our off-days. And we have our moments. Hence why we indulge in days like Valentines Day and special occasions to try and make up for the other days.

 

But here’s the truth that most of us haven’t realised as yet. If it wasn’t for love, you probably wouldn’t still be together with your partner or spouse. It is because deep down, we all want to make it work and still maintain the hope that it will. We are no longer the same society that our parents and grandparents lived in. Most of us refuse to be tied down by thoughts such as ‘What will the others think if I get a divorce or break off a relationship?’. Yes, they’re still considered taboo topics, but at least we’re slowly starting to make some progress there. And that means it is, in some ways, easier for us to walk out of a relationship that just isn’t working anymore. Or wait for as long as it takes, to make sure that we find the right person.

 

As you go through life, your perspective of love changes. While the reasons for relationships breaking up could be many, it often starts with this one simple thing – expectations. Our perspectives and actions change. But our expectations often don’t. We still expect the same Lovey-Dovey-PDA And gestures that we experienced on a regular basis either during the initial stages of courtship or marriage. But circumstances change, and often so does the frequency. It doesn’t mean that we’ve fallen out of love. It’s just that we need to have a more realistic take on it. In many ways, ‘real love’ is an oxymoron of sorts.

 

We expect real love to be one big fusion of constant ‘sweep me off my feet and butterflies in my stomach’ gestures all day long but realistically it’s much more complex, ever-evolving, and made up of a number of smaller meaningful gestures delivered sporadically.

 

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a post on how to make relationships work. I don’t think anybody has the perfect formula for that. It’s a whole bag of mixed things that make it work – from knowing when to be expressive to knowing when to let some things go. And it is a whole lot of hard work. But you’ve got to want to keep it going in order to make it work.

 

[tweetthis display_mode=”box”]Relationships work when we realise that we are individuals with varied interests bound together by common strands [/tweetthis]

 

So give each other that space and respect. Have friends outside your common ones and each other. Most of all, trust one another. Also, it’s high time that relationships move on from this concept of ‘the other person completing us’. You should be complementing each other, not fitting the pieces of a jigsaw. But at the same time, don’t get too used to not having each other around. It’s all about finding the right balance of being with each other, while not giving up on your individuality. See, real love is a very complex thing. [I’d also like to add a very ‘un-sanskari’ thing to this – if you can, live with each other before marriage and take a couple of trips. You’ll be amazed at some of the things you discover about each other]

 

Now, if I told you that in Reality that all this gyaan was for me to plug this clip of the Women’s Web event, will you shoot me? You probably would. 😁

 

 

PS. Yes, I gesture a lot while speaking. I did not realise that.

PPS: There is some awkwardness, but I did speak better after this initial hiccup. Or so I’m told and I believe them.

PPPS: (okay, this is too many ‘P’s – this is an edited version of a small portion of the event)

 


 

So, what do you think #Womenreallywant in love and relationships? And do you think it’s different from what men want? 

16 . . . going on 17

16 . . . going on 17

 Ah, 2017!

I doubt if we have ever waited so eagerly to beckon in a new year and kick the old one out, as much as we have waited for 2017.  Mostly because 2016 has been a very confusing and often, torrid unpredictable year for most of us and the world.

 

Frankly, I am not in the habit of looking back on the previous year and jotting down learnings. Mostly because it means reliving a lot of things from the past year, and I’m usually a ‘let’s look forward’ kind of person, rather than keep staring at the ‘rearview’ mirror types.  Also, I am no longer smitten (or bitten) by the need to document (or even make) resolutions for the coming year. But then, every year isn’t as confounding as 2016 has been. So, I decided that I’ll make a tiny change this year.

[Plus, over the past couple of months, a lot of my readers have mentioned that they miss my ‘personal posts’. Well, we’ll see what they say after I put this one up.]

 

 

Sleep is single-handedly the most important activity that we do, that we take for granted. I’ve never been much of a sleeper. In fact, I used to be someone who used to proudly declare that I’ve only had 2 hours of sleep the night before, and that I could still get through the day. But all that stopped with the past year. I’ve been diagnosed with a sort of sleep disorder. I know that it doesn’t as ‘serious or life-threatening’ – but apparently, it is and in a lot of ways, I’m fortunate to be around even today. I am presently undergoing treatment for the same. It is challenging and the road ahead is horribly long  – but I’ll survive.

PS: If you’re amongst the select few people who know what the issue is, kindly avoid talking about it in comments and elsewhere.

 

 There is such a thing as a ‘reading slump’. Honestly, I never thought I’d actually experience one. But in 2016, I did, and it was a terrible feeling. That feeling of picking up a book and not be able to read it because you can’t focus or concentrate leave you with a feeling of helplessness. Not even the books that I’d already read and loved – such as Blyton or the Harry Potter series – helped.  While a lot of it was to do with my sleep disorder, I also think that I ended up trying after a while. In 2016, I read a grand total of 4 books. Yes, that’s it. FOUR.  My lesson from it was – reading slumps do happen. You just need to stop pressuring yourself to do it. Much like writing.

 

I should probably yell less. I’ll admit – it’s not easy, especially when you feel a lot of things around you is going wrong. And when almost every single thing angers your anger module.  My mother used to joke that I should come with one of those signs they stick to the trucks carrying fuel – Keep your distance, Highly flammable. And I won’t lie – my 4-year-old son has been at the receiving end quite a few times too. So, this year, I’m going to try to take a minute before I react to anything.

 

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose” display_mode=”box”]Spontaneous combustion is great if you are a fuel. I would rather work on my anger. [/tweetthis]

 

That I must meet people offline as much as possible. In fact, throughout 2016, it was these impromptu meetings with some clients and a lot of fellow-bloggers-turned-friends that actually helped me with my sanity, and away from the craziness that social media delivered on a daily basis. Plus, I’ve realised that networking is a lot more effective when done offline.

 

Jealousy is more common than we care to admit. It exists in each and every one of us. Because we’re only human. We may use different terms to talk about it, but at its core, jealousy is a feeling that we all experience. And that’s okay. What’s not okay is to let that jealousy bubble over in the cauldron of your mind/heart and then spill over into what we call ‘bitterness and venomous’ territories. Most of us do respond to jealousy – but when we let it get to a state where the acidity starts to eat us alive, we end up doing things that we probably shouldn’t. But at the end of the day, remember this too: Your only competition is truly only with yourself.

 

You must always check your facts before you put them online. And once you do, if you’re sure of it, be prepared to debate it out, if need be. But if you do get your facts wrong, there is no shame in correcting them and/or apologising. We all make mistakes – they key is to learn from them.

 

Death is inevitable. Okay, it didn’t take me till 2016 to realise that, but the sheer number of celebrity and personal deaths sort of gave me a wake-up call. We can avoid talking about it, but it is inevitable. And sometimes we look for others to blame so that we feel better about it. 2016, as a year, has been at the receiving end of many such ‘blames’. But remember this:

 

 

There is a difference between ‘self-doubt’ and ‘questioning yourself’. Self-doubt is a manifestation of our fear. Of failure. Of what might happen. On the other hand, questioning yourself or about the actions that you are about to take is about self-preservation and identifying your self-worth.
[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose”]Self-doubt is a killer of your dreams. Questioning your actions is about reassuring yourself. [/tweetthis]

 

Life isn’t always fair. Actually, it rarely is. And that Karma works – but she’s got far too much on her plate and that she is so far behind schedule that it’ll be years before she gets back to you with a response. Also remember that having bad things happen to you doesn’t protect you from more bad things in the future.  So just move on – things will eventually start looking up.

 

We all need a temporary distraction. Something that really makes you happy, no matter what is going on around you. It  could be a person, could be an activity, or could even be a piece of cake. But find it. You will need it to get through those days when you feel like there’s 50 feet of crap —> Rock Bottom—> You.

 

I live in a box. it’s called my comfort zone. And it is where I am most cosy. But the problem with the zone is that the more you are in this box, the less likely you are to outgrow it. You will always end up waiting for ‘things’ to be hand-delivered to this box. In order to grow – as a person, as an individual – I need to get out of this box now and then. Yes, I’ll falter and fall; but I’ll get up again.

 

So, if you have a problem with someone – talk to them. I’ve lost track of the number of people I’ve lost from my lives (and probably me from theirs) because we avoided asking that one question that could have probably opened the channels of communication. So, 2017 – no more of that passive aggressive crap. If I have a problem with you (or something you’ve said or done), I will talk to you about it. And you’re welcome to do the same with me, in private.

 

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose” display_mode=”box”]Misunderstandings do not destroy relationships. Miscommunication or the failure to talk about it does. [/tweetthis]

 

While helping others is a good trait to have, I must introduce time-limits for favours. So going forward, I’ll be following the 10-min rule for favours, whenever anyone approaches me for help with their website, writing, editing and any other things that I normally charge for. So no, I won’t stop helping people who knock on my virtual door; but I won’t let them take me for a ride either.

 

It is okay to crack under pressure. Even some diamonds do. We are after all, mere mortals. Just remember that you will need to  ‘put yourself back together’.

 

Having your own set of people is absolutely important. These are the people who quickly transition from ‘people you know’ to ‘people who know you’ , and know even the very meaning of your silence. They are the ones who’ve always got your back, as well as the ones who won’t hesitate to whack you over the head should you go astray. They are your tribe. And you must watch their back as much as they watch yours.

 

 

We must not underestimate our ability to motivate others. Even if there are days when you find it hard to motivate yourself to just get out of bed. Trust in your ability to be a good friend to some people.

 

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose” display_mode=”box”]We are a little bit broken inside; We need all the support we can get. So be someone’s #Patronus [/tweetthis]

 

The ‘phenomenon’ that was 2016 is now the past. And personally, 2017 has started on a better note for me. Perhaps, a lot of it is to do with a positive frame of mind that I’m trying to start every day with. Or perhaps, it’s just luck and a phase that just passed away. Whatever it is, I’ve decided that 2017 is my year to get a software update. So let’s hope Version 2.0 is better than Version 1.0 was.  I know it’s already the 10th, but hey, Happy New Year!

 

The Writing Conundrum

The Writing Conundrum

I have a peculiar issue.

Now, before your mind goes wild imagining things, let me clarify. I have a peculiar issue related to writing.  I enjoy writing. In fact, I’m fortunate that it comes quite naturally to me. But I am not entirely sure if I can call it ‘love’.

 

You see, every time I read on someone’s blog that they feel they were born to write or that they write because they would ‘die’ otherwise, I feel akin to gazing into the dark, starless night sky. I know there is something there – a truth in their words, perhaps. But it baffles me – because I can’t see or feel this ‘passion’ like they do.

 

No, I am not talking about their work, but rather the fact that personally, I don’t look at writing that way. It is the same sort of bizarre feeling that I have when I read/hear some authors state that they write because the story grows so much inside them that it starts to ache, that they can’t wait to get it out. Which on a side note, reminds me of pregnancy.

 

For me, writing is just the best way of expressing my thoughts and often, the clearest way that I can put across what I want to say. I’ve never felt like I would die if I stopped writing or blogging. In fact, I don’t even feel compelled to write on some days. Yes, I do start to feel slightly agitated when I haven’t blogged for a few weeks. But to be honest, that is a lot more to do with people asking me about my next post or me wanting to write about something, but being unable to write. The fact that this is perhaps my first non-commissioned piece of work in over a month should say something about all this. That, and the fact that I’ve been battling some health issues; but those are topics for another day.

 

Writing is pretty cathartic for most of us. So I suppose it is for me too. And no, it doesn’t come easy for anyone. Even people who churn out page after page – I’m sure they don’t have it easy. It’s not like they sit in front of the laptop and just vomit words. It requires a lot of effort, patience, drive and most of all, struggle.

 

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose” display_mode=”box”]Even the most superficially written piece of work required some effort – so try not to devalue it. [/tweetthis]

 

If you don’t like it, don’t promote it. It is that simple. But if you do, remember to shout out loud about it. Never underestimate the power of a word-of-mouth share.
I must confess – a lot of these ‘claims’ are ones that I spot on blog descriptions or Twitter bios. But it always gets me thinking about my ‘relationship’ with writing in general. The other thing that often gets me wondering is bloggers constantly going on and on about lack of readership or comments on their blog.

 

Yes, I’ve been there too – when I started blogging, I spent the first year worrying about numbers and comments. I think that at a point I was even having nightmares that nobody would ever read what I wrote. And if I’m honest, that’s still something I occasionally think about. But I’d like to think that I’ve come a long way from there and am no longer losing sleep over posts not being read or shared. Well, not overly anyway 🙂

 

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose” display_mode=”box”]So with that in mind, here are a few unsolicited & unedited pointers for my fellow #bloggers : [/tweetthis]

 

 

  • Do not value your work  solely on the basis of comments on your blog or the number of shares. But don’t dismiss it entirely either.
  • Every blog will have a set of loyal readers – the number might vary from 1 to a ridiculously large one, but every blog has it. And it will keep fluctuating.
  • Every one has a life outside blogging. So should you. Do not obsess over it; but at the same time, don’t treat it too lightly either. Don’t always expect your readers (even the loyal ones) to read your posts within minutes or even days of posting.
  • The amount of information that we are all privy to on a daily basis means that you need to be constantly sharing your work to keep it visible. But yes, don’t go overboard. Use your common sense.
  • Not everyone comments on blogs. Usually, the majority of people who comment on blogs are other bloggers. The average reader – they prefer to read, and maybe share at best.
  • I’ve been both quoted and misquoted saying this. ‘Everyone can blog, but everyone mustn’t.’

    It is not me being elitist. Or being condescending. I’m just being honest. Have you ever wondered why most people who comment on your blogs are mostly bloggers themselves? Compare this to writers (or really popular bloggers) whose works get read, shared and commented upon widely. Here’s what I think the difference is. A lot of us (including me!) have often treated our blogs as online versions of a diary. Okay, calm down. Put those swords down – hear me out, will ya? Yes, that’s your choice. But remember this – Not everyone wants to read a something that reminds them of a diary entry. Unless you’re famous, probably. But people do love personal notes and stories. Because they’re relatable. Because most (if not all) of us have probably gone through something similar or know someone who have had similar experiences. And that’s where I think sometimes our blogs tend to fall off the wagon. You need to be able to find that line between a blog post being a personal ‘Dear Diary’ note and encouraging your readers to chime in with their own thoughts.

  • Remember, blogging is not just about writing. The moment you hit publish, it’s visible to the whole world. So don’t put things that you might regret later on. Or write things that you can’t stand by. Blogging is really about engagement. So, write more engaging posts. . Leave open the opportunity to discuss your post – perhaps a question at the end? Respond to comments regularly and similarly comment engagingly on others posts. In fact, some of the best blog posts I’ve seen are the ones where the readers have opened up so much in the comments section. And to me, that’s an important measurement of how people view your blog.

 

Happy Writing, everyone!
Travel Blues and Wanderlust bugs

Travel Blues and Wanderlust bugs

For some strange reason, the first thing I think of when I hear the phrase ‘travel’, is an airport. I know it’s sort of clichéd, because in lots of ways, while air travel is perhaps the most comfortable and quickest, it is one of the more ‘scenically challenged’ routes to take while traveling. Unless you’re into…well, what the kids these days call…erm…cloud porn. I reckon my attraction towards airports has probably something to do with the fact that I’ve always found them to be fabulous places to people watch. Those scenes of people arriving and departing. The stories – of hearts broken, of affairs rekindled, of excitement unparalleled, of sadness indescribable. Every face has a story and sometimes when I get time, I try to weave a story around them. But today, it’s not about airports. It’s about travel. Sorry, I digressed.

 

The more I think about it, the more certain I am. The wanderlust bug definitely lost its way trying to find me. And once it did find me, it administered the slowest release of this ‘travel poison’ into my blood – so slow in fact that it took me almost 20 years to discover this love for traveling that I presently have. 

 

But then again, maybe it wasn’t the bug’s fault. After all, I grew up in a household where the idea of a trip was saving up money to visit extended family in India, once every year. So between saving money for these trips, buying things for people we’d come across on these trips (of course we had to – we were in the ‘gelf’ after all) and then actually running around to every relative’s house while on holiday, well, it’s safe to say, the wanderlust bug probably got confused and left. Years later, when it finally returned, it nipped me and I started to think about how much more there is to the experience traveling – the joy of discovering new places, seeing new faces, tasting new cuisines, being adventurous, trying new things and so much more. To me, it was very much like those kids discovering Narnia. Well, except I didn’t have talking lions and the secret cupboards and the rest of that.

 

So, it’s safe to say that I only started traveling into my mid-20s. Yes, the same age at which some of these new legions of travel bloggers and writers get addressed as experienced and veterans. So, that’s how late I was to the game. But fortunately, I didn’t let old age deter me too much and traveled as much as these creaky bones of mine would let me. Of course, then we became parents. And then the rest, as they say is history. But more about that in another post.

 

What I didn’t realize was that no matter how much or how little you travel, there is one thing that a good travel escapade often leaves you with. A side effect of sorts – a travel withdrawal symptom, if you will. I call it post-Travel Blues and I discovered it the hard way. It is something that affects you when you have really enjoyed your travel. It doesn’t matter whether the place you traveled to is one of the top most spot on the Lonely Planet guide or an almost hidden mountainside less known to most mortal beings. It’s all about how much you enjoy being there, living in the moment, experiencing everything that the place has to offer and often at times, rediscovering yourself in the process.

 

Now, I believe that’s what travel is all about. It’s neither the destination nor the route alone, but a sum total of those plus every new experience you have and every new memory you create. Yes, I stop to take photographs too. But while it used to be about the likes and hearts that they would accumulate on social media, I soon realized that photographs are important memory triggers too. They too are part of that travel experience and perhaps will One day rescue you when your memory is no longer what it used to be.

 

I’ve come to realize that for most of us, post travel blues hits us the day before the return trip. Starts with a lot of sighing and shrugging, and our emotional fight with the realization that it’s time to go back. And then on the return trip, we are torn between reliving those memories, the prospect of ‘going back to the grind and everything it entails and of course, promising ourselves that another destination awaits us, with new experiences to be had and memories to be made.

 

Come to think of it, in a lot of ways, traveling is like an addiction. An incurable and often ‘high-on-your-pocket’ one, satiated only by the possibility of a trip in the not-so-distant future. After all, that is the true essence of travel.

 

[tweetthis twitter_handles=”@iwrotethose” display_mode=”box”]Or maybe, #travel is like opening a box of Pringles. Once you start, you really cant stop. [/tweetthis]

 

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