It’s been a while since I’ve had no internet in my daily life. There are times when I want to know something – anything – and I cannot find my answer. I have lost the ability to mark something in my head as needing to be researched. I feel like the questions get lost as soon as I realize my inability to get an instant answer.
But are the answers themselves behaving any better? When I have access to all of the information of the internet and I look for that instant information, do I retain it? Is an instant answer memorable?
Since being in India, there are so many things that I have been unable to figure out. So much of my surroundings are new, unfamiliar in language only or in idea as well. For example – I went to a tailor to have my lovely Varanasi silks made up into a salwar kameez. The woman I spoke with asked me about chowridar. Uh oh – a new word, a new idea. Is this the local variant of the salwar kameez? A local kind of top? Or something altogether different? If I had easy, transportable access to the internet, I could have looked that up. If I had looked that up, she and I would have had a more sense-able conversation about the garments I wanted made. But stumbling, wondering, finally figuring it out – might I remember better once I know what the chowridar is, because of the very weight of misunderstanding?
If there was a deep learning course as in scifi, wherein I popped in contact lenses, put ear buds in, and took a receptor pill…If in a hour, or an hour a day for a week, I could be fluent in Hindi…If I could take several courses and be fluent in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Malayalam, Tamil…
Can mere translation fix misunderstandings born in culture difference? There are more words without one-to-one translations than with. Even the word I learned to be woman is not simple. It implies a certain degree of maturity, marriage, and probably more of which I am unaware.
Looking up a word might – might smooth the misunderstandings of language. To truly understand what I am being told, however…that is the work of more than translation. It is a labor of growth in understanding itself, experience itself, and one which cannot be shortcutted through analog. Because a salwar kameez is not like a pair of pajamas, a short dress with flowing pants, or a tunic and loose trousers. A salwar kameez is a salwar kameez. And the only way to know what it is, is to wear it.
So – am I really poorer in experience because I have no internet? Or am I thrown back onto the only real learning possible? Will I miss things because I cannot look them up and cannot understand them? Or will I see things as they really are rather than seeing their homologues, their translated, falsified selves?