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I now live a tangible part of my life on social networks! How did this happen? Sep 5, 2012

I started the journey into social networking with the mandatory Orkut account ages ago, and then Facebook. These were purely a way to get back in touch with long lost friends. And to take online the conversations with the current friends circle that we cannot have face to face as our lives are too busy! Sharing photos, thoughts and experiences were a natural extension.

But things began to change when I started blogging. To promote by blog, I tentatively got myself a twitter handle. I remember asking Nupur how the hell this thing worked! I was rather at sea. And inside me somewhere, I had this notion that spending hours on social media was a retarded thing to do! Well, things have changed drastically in just a few months. I am very much that excited moron today! And proud to be one.

How did this happen, and why? For a person like me, who thinks a zillion thoughts a day, whose interests lie in many different directions and who yearns to share, listen, debate and interact, social media is nothing short of a blessing. By offsetting my blog with just two sites- Facebook and Twitter, I can achieve a mix of interactions that keep me invigorated, excited, curious about life and the world around me.

The real serious stuff that I feel strongly about goes on my blog. That is a form of self expression. The communication with my friends tends to happen directly or via FB. The fun stuff, posting pics of my kids, outings or travel, the conversations about daily events- all that good stuff is what FB is about for me. Yes, I do follow pages of social causes I identify with or organizations I find relevant, but that is a secondary activity and does not occupy much mindspace.

Twitter is where I assume my professional, intellectual (ha!) persona. It started with a deliberate positioning and I decided to follow media, organizations and individuals related to urbanism, planning and design. But over a period of time, it has changed to include a whole bunch of what I term ‘thinking, liberal’ people as well. I enjoy reading a wide range of opinions on diverse issues. I love the opportunity Twitter provides to get into a meaningful conversation or stay out of something you don’t agree with it. Or voice disagreement and dissent if that is required.

Occasionally, the boundaries between FB and Twitter do melt. Kids pics appear on Twitter via Instagram (another wonderful app). And links that I consider good for wider reading do get shared on FB, like the editorial by Ranjit Sabikhi I shared today morning.

On the whole, social networking helps me stay updated and connected, especially important for a flexi-worker like me. I work for a small organization and there are limited opportunities for physical networking as my children are young and I have chosen to spend time at home to be with them. With four standard windows open on the browser- Gmail, Twitter, Facebook and WordPress, I feel empowered and engaged. Loneliness and boredom keep away and that’s pretty much what constitutes happiness, for the most part.

Yes, I do find myself wondering if living a life via social networking will impact my real world relationships adversely. Up until now, the real and virtual worlds are complementing each other beautifully. But I am aware that there is a need for caution. When you get used to sharing too much, some private, intimate and vital aspects get short shrift, because they are unsharable. So yes, I do know I need to carve out a lion’s share of space in my mind for the real world experiences that must, ultimately, feed my world on the social networks!

How travel shaped me: Nostalgia! May 26, 2012

For me, vacations are about travel and there is nothing as exciting as planning a trip somewhere. My mum is an avid traveler and even on scanty budgets, we traveled quite a bit when I was young. Living away from family meant trips to Goa and Bangalore were normal. But we took an annual trip to someplace else as well. I remember coming awake in an open jeep to a watch a magnificent white peacock dancing at Kanha National Park. Car breakdowns near Kota, at an obscure village in Hassan district on our way to Belur-Halebidu temples are specially memorable as a child. I was happy to sit idle at strange places while people around me fretted and stressed out! Once, we drove through the Chambal Valley and dad could not have enough of trying to scare us with dakoo (bandit) stories!
The exposure of travel is priceless indeed and many observations regarding culture, environment, art, architecture and human behaviour stay with us because they came to us when we were busy having fun- traveling!
I fell in love with India’s heritage because I traveled to many major and minor sites as a child and young adult. I That I went on to study architecture and took a certificate in conservation during my masters in planning is no coincidence, in hindsight!
No experience was too harsh either! We slept on the station platform once and got thrown off a train another time, literally with bags and baggage going plonk, plonk, plonk at regular intervals down the platform as the ticket collector pushed them off a moving train! I can laugh now, but I remember that as a long, long night. That we plodded on despite obstacles clearly imparted some life skills. Despite travel anxiety, I can convince myself to let go and am confident things will work out and the usually do!
June is the travel month for our family. Cannot wait for it to begin!

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