If Mahatma Gandhi Was a Travel Blogger?
We are all celebrating Gandhi Jayanti today on 2nd October. in memory of the father of the nation who led the freedom struggle from the front. There is an old saying we try to correlate things with our own little world and try to interpret them in our own ways so that we can understand them better. While the political climate of the country has changed over the decades I think Bapu Gandhi not only relevant today also but we all need to learn so many things from him as we remember him on his birth anniversary. While our political leaders will talk about Bapu’s role in the freedom struggle and how we should imbibe his values in our day-to-day life, I too have a few things to share as a travel blogger. As I read more about Mahatma Gandhi I was wondering what I can learn from him as a travel blogger.
So dear reader here are my 7 learnings as a Travel Blogger from Mahatma Gandhi, my own way of paying a tribute to him on his birth anniversary.
Blog for Passion: When Gandhi jee returned to India from South Africa ( and earlier in South Africa also ) he had a burning desire in him to do something for the nation that was dying a hundred deaths under the colonial rule. When he decided to leave his career as a Barrister and take freedom struggle full-time he had only one desire that the freedom struggle should succeed and India should become an Independent country. The passion to see the country free was the reason millions of people followed him and joined in the struggle. Same way I think the only reason one should write a travel blog is that one is passionate about traveling and sharing the experiences. All other things like monetization, campaigns, FAM trips etc. are a byproduct of your passion to travel and share your stories. If you are not passionate about travel and writing the blog will just be another website on the net dying a slow death. A blog is a very personal experience that connects you with your readers.
- Build A Community: Gandhi jee built a strong ecosystem of freedom fighters at every level of society from the kids burning their school uniform made from imported close to farmers marching with him to Dandi he was able to mobilize people who believed in the same cause of Independence and spread the idea like wildfire. He reached out to what we call local influencers for a national cause. He had a strong set of believers who propagated his ideas further as they believed in them. As a travel blogger, your community is the people who like to go to similar kind of places to travel or who believe in your kind of travel. Example of first will be a group of travelers who like to go to Himalayan Treks or wildlife safaris and the example of the second one would say those who like to travel to do Volunteer Work. As your network of similar interest group increases you will find that your travel has a new meaning. I want to share the example of my dear friend Dheeraj Sharma who has successfully build a Not for Profit Himalayan Travelers community – Devil On Wheels, and they regularly organize meets and help local communities when they travel to remote places like Spiti and Leh.
- Reach To The Masses: Gandhi jee was not satisfied by just building a community of major influencers of his time like other leaders during freedom struggle like Jawahar Lal Nehru, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, Maulana Azad etc. he knew that the leaders are good only if they have any real followers. So rather than just being happy in the group of leaders he went out and connected with the normal people of India. What is the lesson that we travel bloggers have from this? While it is great to have a community/coterie/sisterhood/group of other travel bloggers/ influencers one is comfortable with, but if you really want your blog to make an impact you have to reach out to real readers. Just remember even if you are close to a hundred bloggers you cannot ignore millions of potential readers out there. Real readership and followers take time to build. One can go online and purchase thousands of followers overnight but that is as good as burning currency to get some warmth.The other problem of buying followers online is that since these followers are bots they will never like your posts, and then you have to pay to get likes on your posts to prove the number of followers ( more relevant on microblogging platforms like Instagram / twitter etc. ) Now you are in a vicious cycle – buy followers then buy likes. Not very different from the paid ” Bheed ( crowds) ” in today’s political party rallies where same crowd comes for listening to the leaders of every political party as each one of them is paid to attend the rally. This is so different from the thousands of people who came out to listen to Gandhi jee when he visited any part of India becuase they actually believed in what he had to say.
- Travel To Connect: One cannot connect to the people without traveling and Gandhi jee knew this very well. On his return to India, he traveled far and wide in the country to understand the people of India. This was his way of discovering the real India that lived in remote villages and he made the observation that ” India lives in villages” this is true even today. The importance of these travels is that he made firsthand observations about the country and did not rely on what he read in newspapers or was told by others. Many of our leaders today never set foot on the ground and are always surrounded by yes men. What could be equal to travel blogging with the travels of Mahatma Gandhi? Well, he formed his opinions first hand and not relied on somebody else. So when you are writing a post the readers expect you are sharing your own personal experience. I have always believed that there is a lot of information available on the net for every single destination. But when a reader comes to my blog they are interested in knowing what I saw as a traveler. Gandhi jee would have never written an article or given a speech ” 7 problems faced by farmers of Vidarbha” without visiting Vidharbha or any other place for that matter. I hope you get my point, that as a blogger I am supposed to write my personal experience otherwise there is no difference between a blogger and a site that aggregates information and presents it in a template form.
- Communicate to Connect not to confuse: Gandhi jee was a highly educated lawyer and spoke fluent English and was dressed in a suit like any lawyer in those days would be. But once he was championing the cause of freedom struggle the English and the suit etc. were gone. He was talking to the people in a language they understood. Something similar is needed in my opinion for a travel blog. So I try to write in simple English that many make fun of at as it is not meeting many a grammar and punctuation rules. But I am fine with it as my aim is not to increase the sale of English dictionaries but to share my travel stories with other desi Travelers. I do try to run a spell check and simple grammar correction but still, a lot of them creep in and I am kind of OK with it as long as thousands of people reading this blog every single day, but anytime I find something incorrect my aim is to correct it even in old posts. Mind you I am not making an excuse for poor writing and editing but I am talking about writing the way I and my readers are comfortable. Blogger friends If any of you are reading this please note this does not apply when you are writing for a magazine or newspaper as they look for perfect sentences and impeccable grammar etc. The other side of this story is to share practical information with readers, I am not into the business of giving gyan and liberation talk due to travel as I am yet to experience it myself. Maybe this post is the first step towards my journey towards becoming ” Blog Wale Babajee” 😛
- Ignore the Critics: As Gandhi jee became more and more popular and a real threat to the empire all kind of name calling started by the colonial government. It is believed Winston Churchill once called him ” Half Naked Fakir ” I am not sure Gandhi jee said this before this incident or after this but this quote from him stands true even today ” First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. ” Not very different for a travel blogger if you are charting your own path away from the run of the mill posts. Many times the criticism is not based on facts but on individual biases. One should always ignore naysayers while maintaining the wisdom to accept what is a genuine feedback. Not everybody understands what you are doing and not everybody needs to understand what you are doing as long as you are doing your work sincerely. I as a blogger don’t have to explain to anybody the kind of blog posts I write or pictures I click or share.
- Write Regularly: During the freedom struggle, Gandhi jee traveled regularly and many a time he was in jail but one thing he made sure was that he regularly maintained his journals and worked on the books and articles he was writing. Here is a complete list of works that he authored > Books Written by Mahatma Gandhi. I think this is a very practical lesson I learned from him though still not implemented. If you remember my earlier post ” How To Kill Your Travel Blog in 10 Steps” then you would also remember that I am struggling to maintain this habit of writing regularly. I think my challenge has been that I write only when I want to share a blog post. The change in strategy I want to implement is to write regularly even if I don’t have to publish a blog post. I think if one can separate ( to begin with ) the process of writing and publishing then the first can lead to the second and slowly one can become regular in both writings as well as publishing a travel blog post.
Well, dear reader, these are my 7 lessons that I learned from Mahatma Gandhi and am trying to implement in my travel blogging. While I am nowhere close to the discipline and willpower he had but one can always try to implement the learnings in day to day life which in my case is my travel blogging. May I ask you what are your learnings from Mahatma Gandhi that you think you can implement in your day-to-day life?
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