Answers

No internet.

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?

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One comment

  1. Do you remember learning as a child, being asked to use a word in a sentence…I love this, I am fascinated watching spelling bee’s when the children will ask for the origin of a word. What a wonderful lesson, that a culture…even a community can give one insight into meaning and context….with the spelling being just a simple record of this journey. Language is the oldest craft, the foundation of all we know, the spring from which art flows…
    be careless, harold

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