Not at the poles when the aurora dances (as it is right now over New Zealand) but in India’s ionosphere of communication. Something was certainly scrambled in her IT system as I discovered when I tried to connect with my webmail account through the hotel’s Internet Explorer. No amount of coaxing would let me past the warning that Telstra, Australia’s major communications network, was an ‘unsecure site’. Several hours later (at 2am in fact) Firefox had been laboriously downloaded and my first ‘real time blog’ completed via an email to Mike to upload. I hit send – the system timed out, the message disappeared forever into cyberspace and at that point I surrendered to forces far greater than my own. That blog will remain forever as a few scribbled notes in a dog-eared book that waxed on eloquently about arriving into a sultry rain soaked city in the grips of a late monsoon. Due to the after effects of this destructive weather, I did not try to send mail from Bhuj – it was all too sticky, muddy, humid and, as the hotel was (and continues to be) under renovation, I did not dare ask to use the Internet. I simply sent text messages – cheap and easy and done on the run when and wherever! In Mumbai at last sitting in the Star Alliance Lounge waiting for my flight home I found a system that worked, recognised Telstra and allowed me to write several messages. On arriving home I discover that not one has been received.
I did spend a while in this same lounge asking various people using various devices the pros and cons of their particular choices; several said theirs was simply an expensive toy that sometimes worked; others reported that the hassles involved with configuring devices and getting wireless cards in India that would work in most places were not worth the effort, time and cost. Personally, I have never travelled with my laptop – I have enough on my hands managing expensive camera gear in the dust and heat and besides, my simple Nokia cell phone gives me all I need except ‘blogability’! I well remember the huge efforts of co-traveller Robyn Williams last year as she sat into the small hours writing, downloading images and uploading her Kachchh blog from remote locations – sometimes with success and sometimes without. As much as I would love to blog on the spot, as a tour leader, I do not need an extra task tagged onto already task-laden days. So radio silence rules while I travel until the day the seamless device is waiting to fall into my hands!
It seems to be customary for me to arrive back in Sydney these days with what I term ‘inflight flu’ no doubt due to the effects of traveling under duress, late night flights, city congestion (and therefore contamination) and aircraft with inadequate AC packed with ‘coughers’. The oversized man next to me had been to some beerfest in Munich, had an injured thigh, a hangover and the flu. I, in the window seat, was hard pressed to wake him to get out and each time I moved he accused me of hurting his leg! So much for flying - even Singapore airlines is now without legroom as their ‘pack-em-in’ policy follows on the wings of others. Still – India continues to beckon and fascinate albeit with horror at the rampant development taking place without much, if any, thought to culture, tradition, nature and the future. I saw and heard much from those whom the industrial giants crush daily underfoot on their march towards an ill defined destiny! And all this remains to be said when my thoughts are aligned with better health and a clearer head - I rest - my case and my body!