I could see the single sheet of the consistent grey sky through the iron bars of the small rectangular bare room. It was, perhaps, a precursor to the day that was ready to be born. A clear blue sheet beckoned. I felt like holding the bars in my hand, imagining that I could pull them and that window could be the gateway of my Great Escape.
I had many and good reasons to escape the BARC (Blog Addiction Rehabilitation Centre, not to be confused with the stuff that addicts you to particles you can’t see). I had as many obstacles as reasons. The first of course was getting out of the room.
I once asked the fine WordPress folks to offer Marathi as one of the supported languages for WordPress. They now support it. No hassles there – I told you – they are fine folks. Now, obviously, there needs to be some translation done to get your WordPress bits and pieces showing up in Marathi. That’s what the users do. And most of us have been doing it, a bit slowly (could you help?). But to get a mail from the WordPress Digital Entomologist, checking with me on the progress, makes me feel closer to the world of blogging, makes me feel that I belong.
I knew for sure now, I had to get out. I had been there far long enough. Over 24 hours. The second obstacle was the strait-jacket: I couldn’t do a thing to help myself out of the dark cell of the rehab centre. The very hands that punched the keyboard were now crossed out in a bound canvas across my heart like a knight’s resting pose. I racked my brains for all the ideas I could think of, right from The Great Escape to T2. The rehab police haven’t given me an audience yet, so, unlike Sarah Conner, I have been unable to stick a pin in my mouth.
I think of the tools for blogging and I search for even more. I have now been reasonably addicted to Windows Live Writer (WLW), (talk of multi-substance abuse), except that it doesn’t support spellings the way folks like us in the UK would like it to spell. You would think that the Microsoft Word group in Microsoft would lend them the libraries. But no. Then of course, there is this new kid on the block, Corel Lightning, a quick note utility that allows you to post directly to WordPress. You will be amazed at the snapshot tool that it has – I was. Then of course there is good old Microsoft Word and the WordPress editor. WLW is cooler than the WordPress Editor is because it gives you the sense of posting right “inside” your blog. Oh yeah, you can add categories, dates, even add Flickr images right in there.
So maybe if I scraped the jacket against a sharp corner of the wall, and I could get a few threads to come off, I would be able to manage the rest. Then, I have to think of a way of getting the fat slob doing the rounds to open the doors. Now, I have seen many movies to get ideas about doing that – of course I had to find something to hit him on the head. But then, I didn’t need anything, really, I would just cover his head with this torn strait-jacket and get away.
I see the cool things that people are doing with their own versions of WordPress. I am motivated to re-learn to code. Plug-ins and mash-ups, pull-ups and count-downs. I could get a font from here and a comment form layout from there and do a whole lot more. Right now, I yearn for more than simple redirection from http://www.gaizabonts.com
I’d then give him a gentle push towards the window that motivated me in the first place (nah, I am not the violent kind of a guy). Run out of the room and lock him in. But this is becoming very similar to Sarah Conner’s adventure. I think I’ll be creative hereafter.
The RSS reader and the blog have a strange relationship. While it started, I believe, as a news reader, I have more blogs listed. Funny blogs, serious ones, incisive writing, work-related, of course the news papers (papers?), friends’ blogs, tech posts, gadget news, great photos, political comments, philosophical magazines – all of them come to one place and “feed” me for the day. I chose to move away from web-based feed readers – because I haven’t yet found a good one that can read secure feeds and do more than just feed you. RSS Bandit on the other hand, allows you to post a comment directly through the feed, blog it, email it, flag it, save it, group it colour it, customise it and even turn it into easy-to-carry-gold-ingots. RSS Bandit and Outlook are the rivals of the year. Each vies for my attention. The Bandit is catching up, if you must know.
Now, he is locked in and can’t yet raise the alarm because he is struggling with the torn canvas knotted around his head. So I walk as if I am in a hotel lobby, so that no one will suspect me and I head towards the gate. It is locked of course. There is an electronic lock on the gate. It says I have to punch an 8-digit code that represents today’s date to open the door. But, I don’t have the code! I take out my BA membership Card (Not British Airways, I am in a rehab centre, remember? They took away all my mileage cards), and insert it into my phone, and punch *#* (only because it looks good). I had seen Jason Bourne do something like that. And there on the two-line display I get the eight-digit code – 05082007 – that will unlock the door. I punch it in. The door silently slides out and I peak out and see the guards at the main door. They are heavily armed with bananas peels. To the right is the peel armoury. I make a mental note to tell my artist friend about the emotions that yellow on the green evoked – in that precise moment.
I know, what you are thinking. This is all bullshit. How did I manage to insert the BA membership card (which looks just like a credit card) into my phone? Seems you have never heard of Motorola Flare. I have, and I have used it even. It was the late 90s and we were all much stronger (and younger) then – we could carry those phones. You didn’t break the chip out of the SIM card to insert it into the phone: you inserted the entire card – as you would do in an ATM. A highly futuristic phone; had SMS functionality when SMS services didn’t exist (in India). This does bring me to the point of moblogging and WordPress; that is the only thing I miss in WordPress. With Blogger, you have the email functionality, through which you could moblog (however, that is prone to being spammed – happened to me once). How about a small and basic mobile application that works on Windows Mobile or Blackberry? Something that works – not a work-around. How about integrating Skype and WordPress? If Skype and Twitter can be integrated – why not WordPress? In any case, people don’t quite fancy longish posts. No one would write long posts through a mobile. Our attitudes are being twitterised, facebook poked and orkut scrapped. Having said that, the neatness, the simplicity and the power of WordPress continue to amaze me. My addiction shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.
Just on the wall opposite there is a Carlsberg vending machine. Somewhere far away I can hear the purr of a bag-less vacuum cleaner being used. I knew exactly what I would do. It would take all the resolve and energy and acquired Scottish wit I could muster. Malcolm Wallace’s words echoed then, “I know. I know you can fight. But it’s our wits that make us men.” This was the final challenge.
The stats-checking-frenzy is now dead. WordPress helped me overcome that, in a way. The stats are built-in. In any case, I have learnt the hard way that stats are a waste of time – it eats into your valuable blogging time. The comments, I get them on my P310. I hate anonymous comments. Partly because I have to rack my brains to guess who it is, assuming it is someone I know – but mostly because there is one less blog to read. Someday I will write a book – All I Wanted to Know, I Learnt from Blogs – I haven’t had a TV for the past six months now. I am not missing it. I have rediscovered the Radio. But I digress.
I used my transformation skills and turned myself into an intelligent vacuum cleaner – you know – the one that doesn’t need humans to tell it everything that it is supposed to do. Purring softly across the desk where the guards were sitting, I pretended to clean around. As I approached the gate, one of the guards, who looked like Xerxes in a green uniform with a loaded banana-peel gun, asked me to turn back. I almost felt like Clint Eastwood in Firefox. I had to think of something fast. I looked in my pocket. I had just one transformation card left. There was no time to be spent in analysing what-if scenarios. I would cross the bridge when I came to it. After all Kwai was a long way off. I invoked my last transformation card and transformed into a lawn mower. The burly guard gave me an approving nod and punched eight buttons to open this door. It was past midnight. I wondered if the codes had changed. The door opened slowly. Mozart’s Overture from Le Nozze Di Figaro came on in 5.1 DTS Dolby and that stuff. I knew exactly how Andy Dufresne felt. I was going home. With all the speed of a lawn mover – I hurtled forward – mowing down the small plants and bushes on the way. The Ents didn’t mind. If I am not mistaken, I almost saw a smile on their face.
On the best summer day so far on the 4th of August, as I sit alone at the Ground – The Burger Store – wishing that my love and my friends and my family were with me – a few of them 4477 miles east and a few 3456 miles west – there isn’t much that you can do. Except perhaps, write a post. We have so many means to be in touch – yet so little time – while we gather those means.
Only a blog post can tell you how much I missed all of you today. It was a pilgrimage to those times.
When we created silly stories together
When you choked on your drink at her stupid joke
When we were silent because words were escaping the punishment of being spoken
When we rededicated our love for Paul Simon
When we went inside and spoke, for I had fractured my leg
When I attended the only bachelor’s party with a broken leg
When we grabbed microphones from half-celebrities because it was our karaoke request
When you made excuses to stay back
When we talked of ambitions lost, modified or postponed
When we wondered whether the truth facing us was our truth
When the night stayed long enough with my bad instant coffee
When tomorrow wasn’t a cut-off based on the watch that you wore
Yes, blogging is addictive, but this is (yet another) addiction that I don’t bother about. I could have called one of you or two or even three of you. But my blog and this post will tell you how much you are missed. I greedily crave the moments when we can be together.
Living in a global village has been cruel and kind at the same time. Even my mother is proud that I have a blog in Marathi – the one language that is mine, yet I never learnt. My Sahyadri has helped me learn. Lifelong learning takes on a completely new meaning.
I am happy and relaxed now, having OD’ed on some more blogging. I’ll head out to my RSS reader to see what you have said. Hope you have said something.