Why great blogging is like good exercising

I posted a lot on this blog all across 2008 & 2009 and for various reasons slowed it down to a trickle in 2010. And in so doing committed a cardinal sin of blogging. Inconsistency. A number of regular readers made a few quiet comments on the falling rate of posts. And when nothing changed, left.

Blogging, like exercising should be a sustainable activity. The simplest way to assess whether you are doing too much or too little exercise is to ask yourself the simple question : ‘how much exercise can I expect to reasonably do when I am 65 years old?”. Whatever the answer is, is  how much you should do today. And so with blogging.

I think my sustainable limit is 1 to 3  posts a week. I shall try to adhere to it.

Another travel scam?

HolidayIQ got this email recently…

Hello,

How are you doing! I hope you are fine? I’m sorry i didn’t inform you
about my trip to Scotland for a program, I’m presently in Scotland and
got mugged at a gun point by some armed robbers on my way to the hotel
where my money and other valuable things were kept including my
passport. I would like you to assist me with a loan of 1620Pounds to
sort-out my hotel bills and get myself back home.

I have spoken to the embassy here but they are not responding to the
matter effectively,I will appreciate whatever you can afford to assist
me with,I’ll Refund the money back to you as soon as i return, let me
know if you can be of any help. I don’t have a phone where i can be
reached.

Please let me know immediately.
Regards

DR.THAMMAN

Arun Veembur

I will never meet Arun Veembur – and it is very much my loss. Arun was an intrepid traveller who died earlier this week in a tragic accident while trekking near the remote city of Dali in the Yunan province of China. He was just 28.

Arun started out as a journalist with an english newspaper in Bangalore. On a trip to India’s north-east, he came across the story of the Stilwell road (Ledo road), the tough mountainous road that the british built in the backdrop of WWII. And was hooked. Soon he gave up his job and went to Kuming the chinese outpost where he spent the next few years. He was researching for a book on the Ledo road and in the years that he was there became a bit of an institution.

More on Arun:

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/35518/bangalorean-dies-china.html

http://newshyderabad.wordpress.com/2009/11/11/young-writer-and-intrepid-traveller-dies-in-china/

http://www.dalichina.info/

From the Economist to Intelligent Life

I dimly remember it as sometime around my 13th year of life that I saw the first copy of The Economist magazine. To a boy brought up in India’s starvation-style socialism of the 60s & the 70s, the paper used looked appropriately ‘foreign’ (read : western & rich). But on glancing inside found it completely unintelligible and therefore grossly boring. Not an auspicious start.

But like most inauspicious starts of my life, this too turned out to be an enduring relationship and I read the densely printed, mostly grey magazine over an unbroken period of 25 years. In 2003, I stopped reading the Economist and took up GQ & the Conde Nast Traveller in as sure a sign of a mid-life crisis as a London stockbroker running off to Tahiti to paint nude women.

But before I stopped, The Economist taught me the following important life-lessons:

that  consistent sticking to an idealogy can result in a cogent explantion for practically everything

that it is possible to explain science in a way that is understood by well-educated and intelligent human beings and that a good Science Writer is a man of Science who can write, not a writer who knows Science.

that the British intellecutual aristocracy is worthy of admiration & respect

that quality of content can triumph extravagance of design 

So, it was with joy that I bought a copy of Intelligent Life at a bookstore at Larnaca airport about a year ago. It seemed to meet my yearning for the familiar of the Economist with my newfound libertine tendency towards Leisure & Lifestyle (incidentally, I actually named the company I founded ‘Leisure & Lifestyle Information Services’ which should give armchair Freuds enough chuckles for a week).

Intelligent Life is a quarterly magazine from the Economist group. It’s tag line is Life.Culture.Style, which presumably means that there are many Tahiti-seeking stockbrokers around to form what the bean-counters at Pearson Media would call a Market.

I liked the first issue I found so much that I subscribed for it. And I must admit. Being back in the warm embrace of an Economist sister is a nice feeling.

The Business of Life in the Mint Newspaper

livemint

Even though the formula is a bit too pat, I am a fan. The Mint is a business newspaper; a joint venture between our own Hindustan Times and the Wall Street Journal. It has a nice middle section called the “Business of Life’ which as the name suggests is less about business and more about ‘life’.

Elizabeth Eapen, the editor of this section in the paper called me the other day for a small piece. And since Elsa is a charming combination of wheedler, cajoler and a girl-school headmistress, I quickly complied. It has finally made it to the paper today in a Q&A avatar. Here is the link:

http://www.livemint.com/2009/05/14203600/Hari-Nair–Take-off-your-shoe.html

Sudheer the lafunga…

…is up there along with kalidasa’s Nala & Damayanti as a great Indian fictional character. That he appears sporadically in books written by an Anglo-Indian about life in India’s hills just after the British raj, does not make it any less so.

Sudheer the lafunga hangs about the market in a little hill town in India and seems to have a ball. A small-time swindler and a man of rakish charms, his greatest strength lies in his ability to invoke jealous passions in two of the town’s well known prostitutes. Who then ply him with money, so that he does not defect to the other. As you can see, it is a bit of a win-win for the lafunga.

In addition to the obvious charm of such a character, I am also captivated by the spelling of ‘lafunga’. In more modern times, where the presence of the British is just a faint whiff in the air inside old colonial buildings, we would have referred to ol’ Sudheer as the ‘Lafanga’. And in that one little alphabet passed a whole way of life.

I quite like the lafunga – with a U.

Bruce Lee and Me by Brian Preston

And, as is usual with life, I have just read another travel book that forces me to contradict the position I took in my last post. I now realise that there is another way to get a good travel book. Which is to have a good travel theme (plus of course, the obligatory, good writer).

Preston explores the world of oriental Martial Arts in this book. Which is a cool subject to write about, since it probably meets all of the criteria of your average avaricious publisher. The subject is of interest to many people across the world (“more people interested means more people buy the book, you dummy”), it involves travelling to ‘exotic’ places, has multiple situations that allow the writer, and therefore the reader vicariously, to careen from undisguised scepticism to wide-eyed wonder within the same page and offers the writer numerous opportunities to take digs at himself (a travel-book staple these days, methinks).

And for all of those reasons, it works. Read it.