Poetry and personal blog – Spilling my guts to strangers

(I’m thrilled and honored to present the following guest post by extraordinary poet and deep thinker KalpanaS.**

Enjoy, and show her some love in the comments!)

I hit the ‘enter’ button, reminded of the ‘80s pop song by Ian Dury and the Blockheads:

“In the deserts of Sudan,
and the gardens of Japan …
every woman, every man,
hit me with your rhythm stick,
hit me, hit me …”

My trip takes me to a Guardian blog where comments are in full swing about Nordic noir, and the British and American remakes of “Wallander” and “The Killing,” a crime drama series I have watched avidly.

Later in the week, tapping the keys, I take a trip to an American ex-pat’s blog about her experiences in Africa. I get the feeling she is trapped by her stereotypes of the ‘other‘. This is not unusual and mirrors persistent and prevailing attitudes of the West to the rest.

In contrast I am reminded of the Chinese nets that Indian fishermen to this day still use in Kerala, a tradition from past cultural exchanges on a mutually respectful relationship between the two countries.

Looking on a popular social network site, I extend my silver-surfing to other lands and come across the poetry of other lives, blogs not lost in translation: musicians in Nepal, artists in Indonesia, political students in Nairobi, pop-singers in Japan … a random selection that by no means gives me a deeper world-view, just a blog-butterfly sip.

The blogging trip has also helped me become wary of the trap of globalisation, leading me to re-visit the issues on my own blog. My poem “Lost in Translation” takes an oblique glance at the issues of translation and inequalities between cultures.

An article in the New Yorker on an exhibition of Indian art prompted me to write a short riposte, referencing another interesting article that challenged the globalisation of culture.
It is not just cultures and nations that we can get trapped in, but also in our gender identities, which Sweepy Jean recently posted about, which got responses from men and women eager to share their experiences.

Let me end with a request in Dury’s words:

“… From Milan to Yucatan,
every woman, every man
hit me with your rhythm stick …’

… and comment as to whether you think the Web is a trap or a trip!

**KalpanaS writes from the UK. Her blogs cover spiritual and cultural aspects of her Indian heritage, Yoga, reflections on places, prose, pop culture, paintings–a potpouri!

Visit her at the following links:
words about …
Indian Inspirations
Epic Stories About India

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2011


Comments on: "World Web: Trap or Trip?" (25)

  1. well hit me then!!!


    • ‘Das ist gut, c’est fantastique…’ Alejandro, you’re a hit! Any po songs that took you on a trip [to places you’ve never visited?]

  2. It’s funny, Kalpana. I do wonder how much can we really know one another from what we share on the internet. Like you said, it could simply be a butterfly sip. Yet somehow, it seems as if we know so much. I do think that through the media we all share a lot of information, but our individual cultures causes us to experience it differently. Even within cultures, we are all individuals! So it can be a trap if we don’t recognize our individuality, but it is a nice trip to discover all the different rhythms!

    I love this post, Kalpana, thank you so much!!! Also, the song is way cool! 🙂

    • True, being fixated on a particular ‘cultural identity’ can be a trap, just as much as any other.
      Cultural hegemony is equally a trap – and the global media, global pop-culture can easily blur into soft focus, into a chop-suey, things that are different, interesting , that require a bit more delving into other experiences, be they of gender, culture etc.
      There is a sort of either Disney-fying or demonising effect. There is a lot of common ground to share, which is reason to celebrate the web.
      Love your blog, Sweepy – am a fan! Thanks sooo much for letting me guest [altho’ am by no means a deep thinker,poet -jus another blogger]!

  3. This is a very interesting post. We must respect ‘cultural identity’ of each other to live harmoniously
    in this global village of today.

  4. Great post Kalpana, I haven’t thought much lately about how different cultures view the posts we share on our blogs, but like Adriene said it’s experienced differently by each one of us.

    But on a side note we pay visits to other sites, blogs to experience the “culture”, I myself wouldn’t mind being trapped in another culture for a while.

    The song has great rhythm 🙂 now I must google the singer… Curious to know if he was blind or was the dark glasses etc. just part of his act?

    • Thanks Debbie – yes it is great to be able ‘sample’ other cultural experiences and places.
      Certainly the WWW opened up the world allowing individual bloggers to wave their own ‘rhythm sticks’ and speak in tongues, in a manner of speaking.
      It is also a means to get to works/authors that have not received ‘mainstream’ exposure – perhaps to get a feel of what is ‘within/an insider look’ into culture-specific milieus?

      Ian Drury’s songs have such punch and verve, a tribute to his spirit over his disability and terminal illness.

  5. Interesting perspective. Personally, I feel the web is a trip. Giving each on of us the ability to surf about, find new things to appreciate or reconnect with old friends. However, like most things, it can also be (as Admiral Ackbar would agree) a trap – especially if you are not careful. When you think about it, all things in life are positive and negative. It’s what you use it for will determine the outcome. A car can take you on a trip, or the trap can be a horrible accident causing the death of people. Same thing with a piece of paper, not on the same level as a car but you can either use that paper to write beautiful poetry on puppies or a hate filled manifesto. The choices are endless, what will you use the web for?

    • Yes Jeffrey, the web does open new worlds – certainly visiting blogs in different countries/cultures gives a taste of the rich diversity of the world in which we live.
      Where there any places mentioned in the featured song that fascinated you?

  6. Hey Kalpana,

    So great to meet an Indian blogger! Thanks Adriennce for that! I am from North India but have resided most of my life in the gulf. Knowing people from across the globe and reading about experiences and journeys from around the globe has been such an enriching experience, truly! There is no greater joy than finding that yes, we are similar in the “differences”!

  7. Gordana said:

    The Web is a trip and trap. It can be the cheapest luxurious trip around the globe, but, as with any trip, you may swerve into a trap (fortunately disentangling in the Web Net is not so dangerous and difficult). You happened to swerve into an American ex-pat’s blog and didn’t enjoy ‘sightseeing’ of his or hers stereotypes of the ‘other‘. Maybe it is indeed not unusual sight and mirrors persistent and prevailing attitudes of the West to the rest. Ye,t I am sure that among millions of Web ‘trips’ (blogs) there are ‘tours’ in which you would enjoy and benefit as an unique individual.
    Globalization does not have to be unification. Plus it might be a evolutionary stage towards the World Union.
    I will finish with two quotes:

    “I want to tell you that from the higher vision, the whole world is advancing rapidly towards a radical change, and, if properly conducted, the World Union may have a special place in this change.’ (The Aurobindo Mother 24 July 1964)
    …‘Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore, a warrior must always keep in mind that a path is only a path;….Don Huan Mathus

    • Thanks Gordana.
      ‘Globalization does not have to be unification’ – this is where individual bloggers help to expand awareness of other ways of seeing and being.
      However, mass media, the promotion of only some aspects of other cultures, tend to promote stereotypes and a laziness in not venturing into other ‘cultural landscapes’.
      Therefore you are right that individual bloggers are in a unique position to celebrate a wonderful diversity and extend sensibilities beyond home turf.

  8. As bloggers, we are also consumers of the internet/www cultural experience/mall.

    This article presents some pertinent points:


  9. This post makes me think of an idea of the very first pages of A Tale of Two Cities, that we often don’t even know the heart that beats closest to ours. Our internet experience is perhaps a mixture of “butterfly sips,” but I have never known any of the authors that have influenced me through their writing. Maybe this one post won’t change everything in my life, but all the posts we read that change us for the better are like thousands of butterflies lifting us to a better place.
    Thanks for the thoughts.

  10. Donna Osborn said:

    Dear Kalpana,
    Nice post…Trap or Trip ?? Both…TRIP… in that the society is evolving from people becoming empowered to communicate with others around the world to find out first hand about different cultures. No longer can political talking heads have carte blanche in rallying the public behind the latest war du jour . Even common man has been given ability to have great coordination in birthing a movement against unjust governments. Who would have thought that a revolution could be fueled by the social networks?? case in point..the Arab Spring! On the flip side…TRAP..because all the blogging, youtubeing, petition signing, group responses, and generally giving a piece of our mind to the virtual world finds potential employers profiling our profile to find out those things about us that might not be included on the employment app…still, the internet is grand experiment and, depending on what one makes of it, gives unlimited potential for enriching our lives.

    • Thanks Donna – the points you have mentioned are food for thought:

      – the democratisation [govt web vs liberated worker bees from the clutches of the net came to mind as an image]
      – intrusion [venus flytrap – employers inspect profiling :)]

      yes it is a grand experiment!

  11. Kalpana,

    The way you wrote it, this was quite a trip through cultural identities, pastimes, insights into people, places, etc. and never a trap. It made me think how lucky you and I are to be able to travel, experience and connect with all these people and places. Then I thought, but it’s also a Trap because I’m trapped inside the Web, experiencing all this through technology and not personally. As a matter of fact, the Web is actually separating me from the reality of my own life and the pursuits I like to follow. So the Web works both ways, as a Trip and as a Trap, and it is up to each of us to decide which we want it to be.

    • Penelope J – that’s a good point .you made ”..experiencing all this through technology and not personally”.
      Could our brains be thought of as a sort of ‘soft’ technology? Ah, yes the seductive nature of ‘virtual worlds’…

  12. Lovely post Kalpana. I love to learn about other cultures. I think keeping an open mind and using this blogosphere to learn what others think, feel and believe helps me to learn and grow as a person.

  13. A cool post of how we are similar and yet different. It is nice to have different perspectives. Thanks. Kalpana.
    PS: I love the song too…

  14. Thanks MuMuGB!

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