I could not leave this year without reflecting on what happened this year. It has been a strange year, that is for sure. It definitely did not start on a good note. Waiting outside a mortuary with my dad on the first day of the year was definitely not how I wanted to start this year. But like my dad always says ‘Everything happens for a reason’ and for some, we may never ever find out that reason.
Death can be strange that way. It wakes you up and brings you back to reality in a manner you were not expecting. It changes your perspective and makes you look at life differently. It was not someone I was close to but it affected me in ways I am yet to comprehend. That numbness is a feeling that cannot be expressed in words. But it taught me something valuable: You still have to move on. Life doesn’t give you much time to stay at any point for too long.
Personally it has been a mentally exhausting year for my entire family. But thankfully we were able to successfully deal with everything that life threw at us this year and we have realized that we will handle all further obstacles, together as a family. Professionally on the other hand, it has been no less daunting. Roles and responsibilities have changed and I am still trying to learn the ropes of my new role.
But there was this one thing that kept me sane all through the year. And that was Travel for me. When I felt that I needed a long break from everyday life, I took it. I needed some time and I am glad that I took it. Also over the past year, I have come to realize how much more privileged I am than most people are when it comes to travelling. And that is why I am going to try not preaching to anyone to travel. If you want to travel, you will make it happen, no matter what comes in your way. Also if you don’t enjoy it, don’t do it. It is solely your decision and no one can make that decision for you.
But it has been part and parcel of my life for so long that I feel inadequate without it. That thirst for seeing new places, meeting new people, exploring new cuisines and in turn making everlasting memories will never leave me now. I am hopeless that way. But I know I am not alone in this. There are many others like me. This year I got the opportunity to see a 30-year-old visit a beach (And Goa) for the first time in her life. At the same time, I have seen over the past one year how the one-year-old nephew lights up every time we take him outside. The twinkle in both their eyes and the smile on their faces seemed similar to the wanderer in me.
Coming back to my nephew, he is a born wanderer and you definitely cannot blame him for this. He was born into the wrong/crazy family and he has slowly come to realize this. What can you expect of a child who sees someone in the house packing their bags every week? There are days when I show him the miniature replicas of Burj Khalifa or the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and tell him one day he will see the real deal and it will still overwhelm him. How do I tell him that it is much better to see animals in the wild than in the Zoo or see Yosemite Valley and fall in love with nature all over again? There are so many things that I want him to see but time is so less. How can I tell him that the World is his oyster and he can do anything if he is passionate about it?
But the strangest thing that happened to me this year was that I started writing again. There was a time when I used to blog frequently for a closed set of friends at office. I stopped writing when that blogging platform at office was replaced and for the past 6 years I could not get myself to write anymore. I never focused on Travel writing then. Then how did I start writing about travel suddenly? I wrote about my experiences in Italy sometime in June and shared it with my friends on Facebook.
I received so much positive feedback for that post and many people encouraged me to keep writing about my travels. That was the beginning of it all and I am surprised at how much I have developed over the past year.
It was however not easy. Whoever tells you that travel blogging is a cakewalk is lying to you. Suddenly you crave for more attention and the passion in you fuels you to do the impossible. It is difficult to write a post every week when the minute you open your laptop, your nephew comes from anywhere in the house to dance on your keyboard.
There are days when you wonder why you are working so hard. You anyway have a steady income and this passion of yours still doesn’t pay much. But then you forget all that when you start writing. There is nothing that is better than reliving your travel memories through writing. I have been told by many that when they read about my travels, they feel that they are there right along with me.
What better compliment can I get? I have random people at office who come up to me and tell me to keep writing. I didn’t even know that they were reading my blog. I even got my first article published.
|Travel Blogging 2015|
Another thing that happened to me this year was solo travel. Technically I did not travel alone much but there were times during my trip to the US when I was alone. Oh, how I loved it and those little doses of me-time rejuvenated me. Yes, it may sound like a cliché.
I did get a lot of stares but that feeling you have when you see that Giant Sequoia tree after a solo hike up there is priceless. Here I rarely get the pleasure of dining by myself but out there it didn’t matter. I was nevertheless surprised by the warmth of people after I travelled solo. I could have never figured this out if I was travelling with a group. It got me closer to the locals and the meaningful conversations I had will probably never leave me. I made more friends when I was travelling solo across America by train. I discovered a part of me that I was not even aware of.
I would be lying if I said that the entire year was a bed of roses. I have struggled more this year with the added stress of multi-tasking and my migraines/sinusitis have only gotten worse. When I was facing some digestive issues on my last day in the US, all I wanted to do was to come home to mom. Whatever you say, we all want our mom when we are sick. I still decline most of the sponsored blog post offers I keep getting in my inbox due to lack of time.
So you will ask, was it all worth it? Yes, it is and that answer will probably never change. I have discovered more of myself this year with my writing and my travelling. I keep making mistakes but I have learnt so many things. The biggest problem I have now is that after being among so many great travel bloggers, my dreams have only gotten bigger and my bucket list has only grown in the past 6 months. I keep secretly planning innumerable trips, hoping that one of them will work out soon.
So what are my plans for next year? I don’t know. All that I know is that I need to make some big decisions, get out of this comfortable mode. But I know that my new/old friends along with my family will always support me in whatever I do.
Lastly but not the least I would love to thank everyone who has seen me struggle over the past few months, but still encouraged me to do my best. I may not have the largest audience but I still have a loyal bunch of followers for whom I am eternally grateful.
So long till we meet next year. I hope all of you have a great 2016. I am hopeful of whatever the New Year has to offer me. Like Andy said to Red a long time ago “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. “