Abracadabra

a closer look @ googling

I’ve been wanting to speak on this topic for awhile. It’s been tucked away in an email draft with the subject: Things I Need To Write About #writerproblems. Some of these ideas never see the light of day/make it through my fingers, though most are good. There are without a doubt terrible ideas I’ve had for pieces that should never come into fruition. Still, I like to keep a record of them if not for making myself feel better that I tried but simply for my own personal amusement over their ridiculousness. #writerproblems.

I’ve written in previous posts about how technology has changed so many things for us–culturally, socially, emotionally/mentally/physically/, the list goes on. It has it’s enormously meaningful impact on the world  but comes with dangerous side effects and drawbacks we’re only now starting to understand and accept.

I’m terribly curious by nature and also extremely anxious/strategic (part of the reason it’s taking me so long to get to this idea #overthinkerproblems). It works both for and against me, this very special trait of mine. I breeze through research, knowing the right questions to ask to get the information I need/don’t (good for journalism). I talk to strangers, socialize often and keep chugging along.

Too often I succumb to the darker side of my anxiety/curiosity and I google the shit out of everything. When I came home from buying a new line of products from Clarins (and after evaluating the products in-store and online), I came home to google, “benefits of X product.” I even remember thinking to myself, ‘isn’t this the strangest behavior? Didn’t I just spend nearly an hour in the mall deciding which products I liked, even got a mini-facial in the process to test said products out? Why do I still need to check this out online?’ It was the first time I really took notice of what I was doing. And last month,  I started including more vitamins and supplements in my diet. Most of them need to be taken after a meal. I chose them based on what my multi-vitamins were lacking plus whichever I found would help with muscle/bone strength. Even though I already purchased the vitamins and devised a plan for how I’d space them out throughout the week,  I came back to my Macbook only to read about the benefits of each one of those pills.

What are we doing to ourselves? Have we become so dependent on technology for validation that we stop using our brains? I’ve become addicted to reading about the benefits of the choices I make, mainly when it comes to my health or body. I’m less concerned somehow about the risks but I pore over the good stuff–how drinking enough water can completely revolutionize my skin, what a good nights sleep can do for your body and mind, the goodness that comes from a dedicated exercise regimen, how thoughts can positively or negatively impact your behavior and body, and so many other meaningless searches. ALL information I’m aware exists and will continue doing regardless of those benefits yet continue down the bottomless pit of interneting away.

DISCLAIMER: This isn’t just because I have too much time on my hands.  On days when I’m completely busy with writing, researching, scouring the internet for editors contact information, or just living in India (which requires lots of other types  of busy work) I still find myself seeking this information. I had to ask myself why is it that I keep coming back to this same, silly activity? Is it because I’ve written those listicles or articles on the benefits of x thing? Or, worse yet, do I actually care about those benefits?

After all the products have been purchased, the water drunk, the sleep slept, the pills swallowed, the body remains kind of a mystery and no one knows entirely what’s going on inside of it. I suppose its my own fascination with the mysteries of the body that keep me googling but it’s also my inherent desire to be validated–to know that I’m doing something ‘good’ for myself, that I’m treating my body the best I can and heading in the right direction. Its my own congratulatory pat on my back. As we get older there isn’t always someone around to say, ‘good job’ or ‘right on’ or whatever encouraging words people offer one another. We need to believe on our own accord that the choices we are making ARE for our betterment. We validate ourselves and keep moving forward, no matter what Google says.

Googling out our anxieties and fears is the modern version of Abracadabra. We instantly get answers to whatever thoughts/concerns/questions/fears/frustrations/elations we feel, anything we feel! Magic happens in front of our very eyes and before we know it, we’ve got our fix. We instantly feel better or worse, satisfied or left wanting more.

I’ve had to consciously stop myself from googling the benefits of anything these days. Live and let live, I say. I can’t remember googling to validate before the internet existed. It only started about 1-2 years ago. I wouldn’t sum it up to one particular reason but I do believe Google searching has made us so dependent that we forget we already possess a treasure trove of knowledge in our heads. We don’t need the internet to tell us things we already know but we like that it does. And when we start to need it in order to function, we’ve already become addicts.

I remember a book from my childhood (pre-internet) that lived in the study of our house. It was called, “The Big Book of Tell Me Why.” I can remember feeling like I was witnessing something special when I turned its thin pages, being privy to information others didn’t have, gaining knowledge to things no one knew. Learning something new felt exciting and that book held a power over me, before Ask Jeeves or Google ever existed.

Today I caught myself googling the benefits of a new protein powder I’ve been taking for muscle growth. I knew I’d be taking the supplement even if I read something suspicious (perhaps I’m also looking for reasons to not partake in whatever activity or product I’m searching about) yet I still googled away. I guess I’ve reached the point of no return–I’m officially an information junkie, strictly speaking when it come to google searching about the body. Is there internet rehab ™? Someone make that happen. And also credit it to me. Help!

Sincerely, 6 Months.

February 16th?! And so I ask, where has time gone? Where oh WHERE did January go? Time is flying by—I’ve been here exactly 6 months to the date. This is the longest I’ve stayed in India since my Pune days, circa 2008.

M has returned to the bitter cold weather of the tri-state. I hear from friends and family that this winter has been particularly awful; snowstorm after snowstorm with huge bursts of chilling wind and freezing rain. Sounds like a mess. A mess I am happy to not be a part of. Although Bombay has its flaws, the weather during this season is extremely pleasant, more so than any other part of India. It’s not humid nor is it too cold. The nights are breezy and the days are still warm enough to forget its mid Feb. There are quite a few people from the States visiting Bombay this time of year, many of whom I’ve met up with for a casual evening out. It’s nice because it lessens the pangs of any lingering homesickness I may feel. Lessens but doesn’t do away with. I came down with a hell of a cold a few weeks back—runny nose, congestion, facial tenderness, the works. I was so incredibly homesick. It came out of nowhere! Perhaps it’s the need for comfort in times of sickness that I become more apt to just let all types of emotions take over me. Homesickness doesn’t happen too often because India has sincerely become a second home to me—I’ve been traveling back and fourth for 6 years—and so it’s become second nature to dive right back into the ‘Indian ways’ once I arrive at CSI airport. I indulged myself in some good old-fashioned comfort foods and chatted with friends from home. Balance, it’s all about maintaining that balance.

I remember my arrival to Bombay airport this time around on August 16th and having the distinct feeling of “So…this is the new normal. Interesting.” The foul smells and broken streets no longer assaulted my senses. It wasn’t because the conditions improved at all but because I got used to it. A voice inside screamed, “This was never supposed to happen!!!” Balu picked Dad and I up from the airport that night and we arrived at a hotel, per usual. Everything we did our first full day out felt so very normal. I hated the familiarity of it all. I wanted to cling onto the idea of India as something else: a place that was removed from home, a foreign land. India as ‘the place I went to heal’ or ‘the land of spirituality and all things eastern’. [SHORT INSERT: I went to a party at Palladium Hotels’ EXO Lounge last month with a friend and I met a woman who worked at the Canadian Consulate. She did not hold back in the least in telling me how much she despised Bombay. She’d worked for the Consulate for many years and lived all over the place, she says. Rio was b yffar her favorite. But Bombay was not a happy match for her. Her job at the consulate is to help foreigners adjust to life in Bombay. What does that entail, you ask? “You know, most people come here to find themselves, seek out spirituality, all that.” I laughed because it was funny and because it was true. I was that person, I told myself. Her man-friend who also worked as a Consulate advisor for a country far more interesting than Canada later entered and I in turn exited to find my friend. END OF INSERT].

I didn’t want the feeling of everything being easy-breezy, plain, almost boring. The India I held onto and always brought back with me to America was becoming something of the past and New India was steadily approaching. This New India (or New Bombay, rather) where I would live and work just didn’t feel as special. It felt serious and dull. It wasn’t only the environment that felt routine to me but I found myself becoming inherently ‘more Indian’. Street beggars tapping at my car window no longer fazed me. I would stare straight ahead and disengage. I treated people differently than I did before; I always on the defense. I began to question everything and everyone around me. Part of my journey in carving out a space for myself here in Bombay clearly came with a large side of paranoia. Eventually I came to recognize it as such and stopped the craziness. I allowed myself to be comfortable with being comfortable here. I guess its safe to say I really started living in Bombay once I let that happen.