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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Ground Floor

Couple of days ago I saw a story  (watch video) on CBS 5 news where children go to school unplugged. The first graders shuck corn and build a garden, while fourth graders explore the philosophy behind Celtic knot drawing. Personally, I feel that you can not protect something you feel disconnected from, so the first lesson in every school should not be just A-B-C or 1-2-3 but also the bond we share with our environment.

I was reminded of a conversation with my mother-in-law where she lamented that technology has made us lose touch with nature. She opined that youth today are so engrossed in their iPods, their music and their world that they forget the world around them. They miss out the chirping of a bird or the beauty of a day. I remembered the first day I stopped paying attention to people- the day I got excited about having Internet in our home for the first time. She had a point there.

I agree that technology can be put to good use- to gather information, to dissipate new ideas, like this Google ad asserts:

But I too, like many others, spend most of the day making love to my laptop. Of course, some of my best friends are the ones I video-chat with over Internet because they live far away, and I miss having face time with them.

A song from arguably the first Bengali rock band - Moheener Ghoraguli(est 1975) plays in my mind:

পৃথিবীটা নাকি ছোট হতে হতে
Satellite আর Cable-এর হাতে
Drawing Room এ রাখা বোকা বাক্স তে বন্দী
ভেবে দেখেছ কি ?
তারা রাও যত আলোকবর্ষ দূরে
তার ও দূরে
তুমি আর আমি যাই ক্রমে সরে সরে

(Has the world shrunk and been held captive by satellite and cable in the drawing room idiot box? Have you thought about it? Slowly, we drift apart from each other further light-years than the stars.)

I also understand the importance of isolation for creators- how crucial it is to incubate ideas and live in your own world for days till you complete the composition.

Most days, I choose to get out from my third floor apartment, get into the elevator only a few steps away, and switch on the ‘P’ for Parking Garage; blissfully ignoring the ‘G’ for ground floor. And of course, my destination is air-conditioned and so is my mode of transport. On days that I am feeling extremely adventurous, I go out for a walk in the park in front of my house. I marvel at the vignette of the mountains drenched in fading red rays of a setting sun and take pleasure in watching several activities: owners bring out their pets to play, new mothers take out their babies in strollers, visiting parents or families walk together sluggishly, a few men and women play soccer, and a determined, athletic person does his daily rounds of jogging.

I watch them while I sit on a bench or stretch –depending on the time of the evening. Then I go to the gym, promise myself to go to park more often, and forget all about it afterwards. Technology is a beautiful thing. It has done wonders to the way we communicate. But like our daily requirements of dietary fiber, we need our basic daily dose of ground floor trips where we step out of our comfortable corners and walk on the face of the earth, albeit on a paved footpath. Weather permitting.


sangram said...

this was an inbelimbly good post!!
I unanimously agree with everything you said - the way you put your expression is exquisite and I can rest assure you that I have never read anything like this before in any of the books so far - the way you put it forth - the disconnect between nature and self and the connection between self and technology - beautiful. more more more - pleaseeeee

Anonymous said...

yeah u r rite,i agree wid u too, a little bit f free tym attracts us to the computer or tv or something or the other. Reading ur post i remember dat it has actually been a long tym dat i last heard de silence f the nite b4 drifting away to sleep,cause it has nw become a habit of mine to tk my mp3 to bed,also gadgets do nt strain our relationship wid nature,it also affects our relationship wid ourselves,if and only if we bother to give more tym to ourselves and look at the world around us we'll see dat it is too beautiful...the more facebook brings frnds close together the more it takes each other away ....
anyhow,i have been following ur blog for a veryyy long tym and u r an awesome writer,ur blog itself is nt a blog,its rather an album f everything dat we see around us bt pay little attention,u r a great story teller :)-prama

Aparna Kar said...

Thanks Prama, your comment just gave a very pleasant start to my day :)

Infinity said...

This is soo well worded! Loved the example of Kamasutra posted on this blog! Its a true definition of how we are getting entangled in this virtual world leaving a deaf ear to our surroundings. I miss waking up with the chickens. I think i need to bring some country in my city life