Monday, July 1, 2013

Of Travel, Travel Blogs and Blogging

The Gloriette in all it's glory. Photographed by me June 2013, Vienna

I hate travel blogs. Nothing against travel writers really, I am sure it is the most fun profession ever. But travel blogs bring out the green monster in me; I get a teeny bit jealous, if you will. The logic is that I’d rather be doing it, or planning to do it, or not hearing about it. Which means I will read a travelogue if I am planning to go to that destination, it would be more of an information gathering exercise. Or if I want to alter my travel dream list in some way. But not otherwise. Don’t tell me about Haiti or Antarctica, it isn’t on my list, at least not yet. I know it is awesome and a lifetime experience and all that but still, I aint planning to go there yet, so don’t tell me about it.

This is also a reason I do not write much about my travels, I talk about travelling and my love for it, but I do not dedicate posts to places I have travelled. And I won’t start now. The maximum you will get are a few pictures, and that Venice was beautiful. I would probably like to repeat the trip given the short time I had there. Austrian culture fascinates me, it is something I have not explored before in spite of having been fascinated with Mozart and Freud. Not to forget Sissi, the popular 19th century Austrian empress who has been occupying my thoughts so much through the last weekend that it certainly makes it worth a second hike to all the other palaces she lived in. Venice certainly goes up on the list of “Must Go Again”.

And as I write this sitting in a plane (of an airlines crazily called FlyNiki, although I booked in Finnair, almost feel cheated, damn these weird airline partnerships) as I approach the city I call home, Stockholm, I wonder how this trip has served it’s purpose. It has helped me unwind, and leave behind all that needs to be left behind. It has helped me sort things out in my head, about people who matter, about people who have stuck around versus people who have chosen to leave. It is ultimately not about fascination and passion, it is not about the intensity of feelings and experiences, it is about those who stick around. Friends, family, lovers.. the ones that need to be valued are the ones who have stuck by you. It has been quite a realization while walking through the castles and listening to fascinating tales of power, lust, love and betrayal in the royal families in the years gone by! Times change. Emotions don’t.

I was reminded recently by someone who claimed to be my “sole” reader that I don’t have much of a following. The conclusion was reached by observing the lack of comments on recent posts in Merlins World. I referred the person in question to some posts where I hotly debate about how anonymity and limited readership keep the integrity of the writer, and popularity and fame eventually and unknowingly make the writer… pardon my language, a whore (more here). You can deny it all you like, but that is how it has been with all bloggers that I have observed the last few years in blogosphere. An interesting flair with the pen, controversial topics, a sense of humor or sometimes just a pretty face gets them noticed. Active bonding, commenting and following other blogs, coupled with the “chain” phenomenon in blogosphere propels them to a celebrity status. And losing touch with their inner thoughts when they write, whoring with their words or sometimes just losing interest in writing is what leads to their decline. Writing is a passion, it has to come from within. It has to reflect one’s line of thoughts, one’s personality, one’s style, it simply cannot be pimped. And so I am happy that my limited (read zero) readership allows me to write any amount of crap that I want, without any kind of pressure to erm.. perform.

Do I miss the times when I had a regular  bunch of followers and a kind of a mini social circle within blogosphere, people I intellectually connected with, people I had conversations with in the comments section? Of course I do. Sometimes I go through my old posts and my eye wanders to the comments and I remember all the blogmates I bonded so well with, and I go back to their blogs. But with time most of them have stopped blogging. Some were never that passionate, it was just a fad. Some became extremely irregular, like me, making guest appearances once in a while. Some moved on to busier lives. Some got married. Some had kids. Some, well, just had better things to do. Some are still around and going full steam (hats off to the stalwarts) but have given up on me because I am so infrequent. Some are forced followers. People I force feed my posts to. People whose opinions matter. People who can say “Merlin, sometimes you write shit, I hope you do give up soon” and I can throw my head back and laugh. Well, poor souls continue to follow the blog, they of course won’t ever comment. They have given up on me too, in a way. Given up on trying to make me give up.

All I can say is, it is good to be back. I know I have gone through some turbulent times, and blogging has suffered. But like always, I hope I will be around more often. And continue to explore myself and be honest to myself through the blog. And I hope the readership continues to be limited ;).

Traveling on the train from Wien Mitte to Schönbrunn, this musician got up and started playing this song on his Accordion... and it instantly reminded me of this song, which incidentally, was shot in Prague, another one of my favorite cities.... signing off with this song... and this picture of Schönbrunn Castle
Schönbrunn Castle and a bit of Vienna city from atop the Gloriette. Photographed by me June 2013, Vienna