From travel blogger to legit travel writer…
129 blog posts. 1,30,000 words. 1000 days of blogging. Whoosh! I must have blinked. Pinch me…has it been three years already since a nervous newbie first bared her soul online in the coveted cosmos of travel ‘influencers’? It’s been a joyride, this 3rd year of my third career, riding on wings of un-jaded exuberance and unscathed passion. Would it be too presumptuous to pat my own back just yet? Considering that one of my several vices happens to be an irreversible and intense intolerance for routine.
Celebrating the credits
Non-essentials apart, I’m still hanging in there, partly thanks to a deliberate, deep dive into the world of bylines. Off-roading into more familiar territory, with a mission to refuel my creative engine, as a legit writer. Stoked by the challenge of unexplored topics. Fired by the push of non-negotiable deadlines. And charged by a voracious appetite to write. Hitting the high notes with over a dozen travel articles published in the last 8 months in a handful of inflight magazines (Air Vistara, Air India, Air Asia, Jazeera Airways) and a leading travel website (Matador Network) thrown in for good measure. And the most rewarding…an unexpected release in India’s top travel magazine (Outlook Traveller). Scroll through my published works here.
Personal drumroll moment? Four of these articles mysteriously synchronising their appearance in four different magazines in the very last month of my third year, inflating my balance sheet of happiness to full-blown proportions. Yayy! How does that happen out of the blue? Who’s been eavesdropping on my dreams?
Memorabilia of moments
Note to self. Blogging or byline, ultimately both are incidental offshoots. So, rewinding to my favourite memories from the heady concoction of trips and trails from the year gone by. Starting from my own backyard. And what a backyard. A fascinating walking tour of Chawri Bazaar and Jamia Masjid in Old Delhi, where streets are still named after ancient trades. A bedazzling day gaping at the priceless collection of the royal Nizam’s Jewels, including the famed Jacob’s Diamond, in a once-in-12 years, heavily guarded exhibition in the capital’s National Museum. Impromptu self-guided photography expeditions to unearth lesser-known monuments hidden in the urban sprawl. Attending expert-led talks on a wide range of subjects ranging from religious symbolism to the evolution of magic. And a wondrous soak in a Dastangoi session, reviving the lost art form of 13th century Urdu oral storytelling in the country. No shortage of brushes with heritage in Delhi. Phew!
Adding first-time experiences to my growing treasury of travel. Fighting irrational fear with a rowboat ride along the crocodile-infested Mahanadi at Satkosia Gorge in Orissa. Learning about age-old art of Pattachitra in the crafts village of Raghurajpur. Plunging into lost heritage during a temple trail in Bhubaneshwar, getting a lump in my throat watching a beautiful Odissi dance performance and picking up my jaw from the floor at the majestic complex of Konark. Wow!
Following my instinct and discovering the magic of Madikeri, Karnataka…kissing clouds, picking strawberries, going on coffee tours, and understanding the local Kodava culture. Driving with rolled-down windows and windswept hair around North Goa, in search of unknown churches, sleepy villages and vibrant Portuguese mansions. Giving in to gluttony like famished victims during food trails in the streets of Amritsar and Lucknow. And absorbing the silence of offbeat British cantonment towns of Kasauli and Dagshai in Himachal, where the thing to do is ‘smell pines and do-nothing’.
Across the borders, fulfilling a long-overdue fantasy in the captivating capital of Turkey. Tirelessly tracing miles along the blue Bosphorus, unveiling the secrets of the harem in Topkapi Palace, craning my neck at the glorious mosques of Sultanahmet, wandering through the maze of the grand bazaars, listening to the musical azaan and staring transfixed at the Whirling Dervishes. Thinking why one trip is never enough, no matter how long.
And, it’s a wrap
Solving every dilemma, wiping away every doubt with my very own ‘never-fail’ quote, “Do what you do if no one was watching.” From almost-trapped-in-the-abyss of a social-media driven existence, to a free-willing-waltz down an alternative avenue of my own design, its been a liberating third year. I still do a small jig when blog traffic spikes and crease my forehead into a frown at all-time lows. But the obsession for visits, clicks and views has melted away, leaving behind the soft silt of peace. Even Instagram is not that close a friend anymore. Sticking my neck out, in admitting that the follower game seems so last-season to me now. But there can be no raves without rants. So, despite all the intelligent improvising, fatigue still manages to raise its ugly head sometimes. Fortunately, a gentle inner voice whispers in parallel, “Remember, this is the life you wanted desperately”. Always works.
Endnote, then. Living a dream is nothing like it sounds…it has its own share of tedium, trauma, toil and tears. Ok, much less dramatic. So, reality bites for all those glamour-stricken 20-somethings, mid-career shifters and everyone else who harbours the illusion that a life revolving around travel is a cakewalk…have you ever tried walking on cake? Meanwhile, Year 4. Bring it on.
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