A first Visit to any city is always associated with equal amount of excitement and anxiety. While the excitement is well understood, point to ponder about is what are we anxious about? I guess the anxiety is always about the new people we are going to meet and what their reaction would be towards us. Visitors who land in cities unknown to them have some form of ‘visitors’ or ‘strangers’ or ‘outsiders’ tag stuck to their foreheads. I don’t know what exactly it is, twitch of the nose? Move of the eye? Unsure walk? Providers of a service, like cab drivers, are very good at figuring that out and sometimes exploit it as well. Last thing we want upon reaching a place is, to be conned. I remember a funny scene from a not so popular Bollywood movie; the scene shows a bunch of friend land in a city unknown to them, the cab driver recognizes instantly that these are “out of Towner’s” and literally takes them for a ‘ride’; While going round and round in circles around the city one of the friend notices seeing a particular shop again and again. When the person asks the driver that I thought I saw that shop an hour ago, the driver answers to that saying ‘it’s a very popular shop and has a branch in almost all localities of the city so don’t be surprised if you see it again and again’ quite convincing isn’t it?
As humans we always look for assurances. Personally I have this need to feel a bit more in control about matters such as explained above and still keep my adventurous side alive. Today Mobile Devices, Global Positioning System, (GPS) and Google Maps have played a tremendous role in allaying my fears and soothing my nerves. They are making unfamiliar cities familiar. By making these cities familiar they are helping me feel connected to the place. Cities and towns open up to me and speak to me like never before. Presence of GPS and Google Maps in the city I am visiting means that I know distance from the Airport to the hotel, I can calculate approximately how much it would cost and how much time it should take and also figure out what are the interesting things on the way. It has never failed me till date and has the capability of picking up even the seemingly obscure locations/landmark. With this control back in my hand and nerves soothed, I can focus more on enjoying my journey and talk to the people around with greater assurance. It has helped me focus on people and helped me to strike up interesting of conversation with strangers and make friendships in places that I could have never imagined before.
Technology always, like many others things, is a double edged sword, used appropriately it reduces distances between humans and used in excess creates imaginary distances where none existed. Sometimes we feel more comfortable to SMS our neighbor than walk across and have chat! Nonetheless I would still inspire everyone to trust GPS/Google maps as it makes life easier when travelling. I have often surprised cab drivers or friends with the amazing level of accuracy with which I could guide them or drive them to the required destination. The irony is, that I needed satellites residing miles above the surface of the earth to help me feel comfortable in going from one place to the other on earth.