American movies were having a good year. Top releases included Frankenstein, Mata Hari, Chaplin’s City Lights and James Cagney’s Public Enemy in addition to Dracula and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Other world events too were apace. Thomas Edison was filing his last patent application. New Delhi became India’s capital. The Empire State Building was being completed. Mao Zedong proclaimed the Chinese Soviet Republic and Haile Selassie signed Ethiopia’s first Constitution.
And in that year, a young man from the backwoods country in the southern tip of India set sail for England to pursue the dream of higher education. Along with 5 other Indians, he would be among the first batch of St Catherine’s College in Oxford University. And would later be immortalised as ‘Lost Alumni‘.
I haven’t as yet informed the Dons at St Catherine’s; but if ever there was a person who was not lost, it was this young man. He went on to do a lot of stuff in life, none of which could be characterised as ‘lost’. I know it, because I knew this young man very well.
But in that world, where telephony was an idea and long distance transport was rudimentary, such displacement was probably the equivalent of ‘lost’.
All of this came to me while listening to Paul Theroux the other day. He was talking about how modern communication has transformed the experience of the lonely traveller. How, being connected to one’s family back home by telephony alters one’s sense of isolation and probably reduces one’s immersion into the reality of where you are.
My guess is, travel within our Globe will never ever allow us to be ‘lost’ again. But let us not despair. For those of us with the need to get ‘lost’, inter-planetary travel will probably soon be the solution.