A little less than two years ago, I visited Pakistan along with my family. This was a unique experience, not only for me, but also for my parents and younger brother. None of us had been to that country before and, given the mercurial relationship between India and Pakistan, it is always difficult to say as to when or if at all there would be a next time.
Being Punjabis visiting the part of Punjab that lies on the other side of the border, we were glad to note that almost everything, apart from the religious faith that most people practise over there, is very similar to that in the Indian part of Punjab. There were a lot of interesting asides too, in addition to a heavy dose of nostalgia and a nice, warm kind of feeling inspired by the shared Punjabiyat.
So, when we returned home, after having spent ten days that were among the most memorable ones of our lives, enjoying the neighbours' hospitality, I wanted to share the experience with friends and family. I would have written a series of emails to them, but then I discovered blogging and it offered the prospect of not only sharing a lot of all that I had seen and heard with a lot more people, but, possibly, could also afford me the chance to make a tiny contribution towards the promotion of peace and friendship. So, here we are!
If it had been the pre-internet era, or, at least, those times when I was not too familiar with the World-Wide-Web, I would have written a series of letters to the editors of various newspapers, though it might have been rather difficult to get all of those published and there would probably have been no readers from outside of the sub-continent, which would have reduced the impact considerably.
I quote from one of the earliest comments on my blog (which was posted at another online location, where I had initially started blogging):
"Thanks for posting this, as the only time the West hears of the borders you speak of is when there's fighting. This leaves the impression that all that exists is violence. We know this not to be true, of course, but every message of peace, understanding, acceptance and tolerance counts massively."Besides, since blogging allows for instant feedback, I have, in fact, had the privilege to interact with those from countries as far as the U.S., the U.K., the U.A.E., Belgium and Romania, aside from readers from places closer to home i.e. in India and Pakistan.
The searchable nature of information on the internet has more than once led to those whom I have written about landing up at the relevant blog-posts and posting comments.
Also, as I am the writer, editor and publisher of the weblog, all rolled into one, I have complete control over the content, which would not have been possible otherwise, unless I had the resources to bring out my own newspaper or journal.