A blog can push you forward

dark glasses

I like to criticize technology’s effects on travel — how it can shut us off from both sight and sound, turn soul-searching into wi-fi searching, and funnel hours of exploration into the confines of a monitor. But today, the man in dark glasses reminded me how blogging can push you further into the analog world.

A few hours ago I was sweating in Varanasi with no idea what to write about. Sat down on a bench for chai, thinking it might kickstart the motor. The man above sat down, his glaucoma glasses shouting talk to me! Turned out he’s a sculptor, with the ripped up hands to prove it.

Do you want to come to my house and see my sculptures?

Groan — another seemingly friendly guy who wants to sell me something. And that voice in the head, “Is it safe?”

Normally I would decline such a sales-pitch reeking invitation, but I knew that as soon as I said OK, I’d have something to blog about.

I said OK.

Sure enough, he offered me a trio of terracotta gods for an outrageous price. But at no charge I got to see a striking bust of the founder of Banaras Hindu University, skulls and skinless legs sculpted for the U’s anatomy department, and a Buddha so real you felt obliged to include him in the conversation.

You could say it was all thanks to the man in the dark glasses, but really it’s thanks to this blog.

There’s a fine line here — doing something just to say you’ve done it gets old fast. But when you need to break out of a rut or want to push into a new level of engagement with a place, doing it for your readers can make a fast, rewarding impact on your experience.

Whether for a blog, a campfire, or plain old conversation — do you believe in doing something just for the story? Your perspective appreciated…

Posted by | Comments (7)  | March 31, 2010
Category: Images from the road, Notes from the collective travel mind, On The Road, Travel Writing

7 Responses to “A blog can push you forward”

  1. Scott Gilbertson Says:

    I’d say about half of what I do traveling is based on a desire to write about it later. Sometimes I don’t end up writing anything, but it does stop me from spending endless nights sitting around a hostel bar drinking with other travelers and other travel traps…

  2. Richard Says:

    A journalism professor who lectured me once said, in reference to Hunter S Thompson, that “if you are going to write about yourself, then you better make damn sure you are up to interesting things”. It should perhaps not be the only reason for doing something, but if it gives you a kick in the pants to really live, then what harm can it be really?

  3. dmz Says:

    As a matter of fact, I’m thinking of starting a blog about my trip (to be). Writing down ideas and thoughts helps me to stay organised and focused. Also, sharing our experiences with the (online)world is something we, humans, need to do. It’s natural. Be it with friends, family or even strangers. Tho, I don’t think a blog should be the main motivator of a trip, just a way to share experiences and ideas.

  4. Shalabh Says:

    Nice perspective Brett. I have done things so I can write about them later but never really counted when and how many. Reading your post, I think its been quite a few times I have done that. As Scott says, I also haven’t always written about them but then the urge to write has led to do things which I otherwise wouldn’t have.

  5. Brett Says:

    Agreed all…actually a lot of this idea came from a part in Rolf’s “Marco Polo…” — I think the notes to ‘Storming the Beach”. He talks about how the idea of writing about it is always a part of [his/our/writers’] adventures, whether acknowledged in the work or not.

    Yes, it definitely helps me get out there too…


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