Sunday, September 06, 2009

Digital Archaelogy...

So, for a whole host of reasons including decluttering / thinking about moving house / offloading some dead technology, I've found some old stuff.

Because I have an in-house CTO (who, obviously, I didn't marry just for the technical support), I (well, he...) managed to get a whole load of data off some 10 year old floppies, including this.

Back in 2000, I was in a job that wasn't quite doing it for me, and the Guardian started it's Netjetters competition. Which was basically a precursor to travel blogging: you won the comp, and they sent you on a trip which you wrote about online and people commented, realtime.

Needless to say, I didn't win (although I'm not too embarassed about my entry), but here it is... in all its recovered-from-wordperfect retroness:

* * *

The trouble with travelling…

I’ve always been something of a traveler-type free spirit, albeit web-enabled, and I hate my job. I’m a headhunter: just one rung up the food-chain from being an estate agent, only estate agents get to look round other people’s houses.

All I get to see is CVs, invariably headlined “dynamic new-media self-starter looking for ground-floor opportunity” or other such jargon-laden phrases. What’s the difference between new media and old media? Nothing, new media is just better dressed, geekier and eats sushi.

I want to be in a place where I don’t have to unpack a suitcase of conversation every time I go to a meeting. A no-TLA zone where IPO is not a verb. Alphabet-soup-free country. Where things don’t happen at internet speed. Where people don’t surf the identity space, and there are neither supported behaviours nor key learnings. I know these aren’t words because my word processing programme underlines them in a squiggly red line.

I just got back from three weeks in Laos, where a family live for a year on the price of dinner for four at the Ivy. Dissonance: crumbling colonial buildings and shimmering golden temples in Vientiane. Taking my life in my hands on an internal flight on a thirty year old Russian plane, dry ice billowing from the overhead lockers – it looked like numbers-up time. I was half expecting the Lottery advert hand to reach out and get me. I played basketball with the Luang Phabang girls’ team, who were all jealous of my real Nike trainers which don’t fall apart the moment you look at them.

Got stranded in Phongsali, the northern provincial capital and a half horse town. Electricity only works from 6.30pm to 10pm. I met the baker and taught him how to make challah - I think it's wild… some day, some traveller will turn up in Phongsali and wonder why they make traditional Jewish bread but longer and thinner (because of the shape of his oven). Saw hill tribe women selling dead rats wrapped appetizingly in banana leaves (watch out The Ivy).

And when I got back – had the organisation missed me? Sum total of zero voicemail messages. Not even the click of someone hanging up when they hear you’re on vacation.

So why should you pick me?
1. Because no one at work will notice I’ve gone
2. I love to travel the world and meet people and not just because I’m a beauty queen
3. I like to write and especially if I know someone will read it
4. People in developing countries don’t talk internet argot

Where would I go? Visit the long-dead Jewish communities of Eastern Europe: my grandparents came from Poland, Lithuania, the country formerly known as Russia and Romania. For good measure, I’d also like to see the Ukraine (especially Uman, birthplace of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov), Czech Republic and Slovakia. Experience the olympic-aftermath in Australia. Learn to dance in central and southern America, dine at Nobu in NY and finish up at the Queen’s birthday in Amsterdam in April. And of course get back to London in time for the headhunting season…

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