Friday, July 28, 2006

Back Link Complacency, Comfort, And Security

About twenty-five years ago I attended a reading of a Polish author, who’s name I have unfortunately forgotten, who wrote a trilogy of her war years in the Warsaw ghetto, her escape to Paris, and then her years of resettling first in Australia and then England. During the question session at the end of her reading, a person in the audience asked her why she chose to write her books in English; for it was her third or fourth language. The author said she wrote in English for the same reason she chose to remain living in England instead of returning to Poland, and that had to do with not wanting to become complacent or comfortable.

As a foreigner in England, or as a foreign writer writing in English, she was confronted every day with situations, bits of conversations, colours, fragrances, sounds that shattered any opportunity for her to become complacent. She believed complacency, comfort, security acts as a drug; it stops you asking questions, being aware of changes in political and social trends, and allows you to sit back believe all is well. That is why she preferred to remain a traveller instead. She’d lived for many years in various countries, but she still considered herself a traveller.

You must be wondering where I am going with this… I was reading a posting in blogher about reading travel blogs. Pam, one of the editors of blogher, kindly wrote a list of her current favourite travel blogs. Interesting enough a commenter to Pam’s entry and a blogger in one of the blogs Pam recommended (The Paris Blog) talk about bad experiences they’ve had recently with taxi drivers.

The one blogger is a woman in Paris receiving unwanted and unwarranted sexual attention from the cab driver in the early hours of the morning. The other is an American tourist in Vietnam who gets taken to the wrong hotel by the cab driver, who hopes to get a commission for the scam.

What was interesting was to see their reactions to the incidents. Though the type of incidents could be argued as being cultural, the reactions of the bloggers were very personal.

The one blogger, the woman passenger in Paris, is happy to have gotten out of the incident in one piece and is angered at the cab driver for his behaviour and at herself for not copying down the driver’s name. The other, a tourist in Vietnam, seems to be royally pissed off at all taxi drivers in Vietnam who try to scam tourists.


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