This year has been unpredictable, frightening and very emotional for me. There were times when I didn’t want to open my eyes to a new day and there were nights when I didn’t want the morning lights to interfere. In all honesty, when I look back in time, I did not preempt any of this.

As the first hour of 2014 came into my life, I was happy to be with close friends in Bidar, Karnataka. With the stars above us, we kept ourselves warm with some gossip from the Hindi film industry while lying on a massive hammock. Nope, we’re not the very classy, let’s-take-life-seriously type at all!

Big deal of the month: Resignation from Femina to become a full-time traveller.

Wrapping up life from Bombay.
Wrapping up life from Bombay.

February was kinder to me, well, at least to my heart. Physically, it was strenuous as I had decided to complete the Open Water Scuba Diving course in Havelock, Andaman Islands. It was also my first solo trip of the year. I was relaxed till I found myself hugged by my BCD, underwater. After a rough first day of diving, I am thrilled to have made up for it and come out as a successful diver by end of week. The last evening of my solo adventure concluded with my first kayaking experience. Through the light of the dusk, I saw my paddle and kayak envelope with bioluminescence. It was a night like no other- the stars of the sky blend with the glowing specks of the sea.

Big deal of the month: Seeing the Napoleon wrasse, the seahorse? No, the stingray. Or may be the octopuses changing colour? Perhaps, witnessing bioluminescence. You pick?

My favourite month of March was the month of farewell. It was my last month in Bombay and I still carry the city in my heart every day. Needless to say, it meant saying goodbye to my support system there and the many lives who had made my life awesome. A weekend trip to Goa was rushed but what’s life without good sun and some beer?

Big deal of the month: Bombay and all the things I can’t move on from.

Kayaking in Bintan Island, Indonesia.
Kayaking in Bintan Island, Indonesia.

April was time to get settled in Goa. But not permanently. Taking up my first seasonal job as a property manager at Turiya villa and spa for six months, introduced me to the people skills I didn’t know I possessed. I met Goa during the rains, fell in love with greens of the Goan forests, learnt greetings in Konkani, became a skilled two-wheeler rider, learnt to breathe easy and slept in the silence of nature.

Big deal of the month: Understanding that the susegad way of life is good for the heart.

May and June were months when I struck a very healthy balance between my personal and professional life. With Turiya seeing a large inflow of guests, very many friends visiting Goa and my blog taking shape, I was caught multitasking many times. Oh, I also had to make a quick trip to Guwahati to renew my passport and stayed at home, Shillong, for a few days. As the weeks got less busy towards the end of June, I took on an impromptu solo trip to Gokarna.

Big deal of the months: Meeting soulmates who came visiting.

En route to Shillong.
En route to Shillong.

Answering to the call from the rainforests, I made my way to Coorg (Kodagu) in July and walked around aimlessly every day to get lost and feel silence. I also learnt more about sustainability and how persistence is perhaps the only way to execute it. This solo sojourn was sandwiched with the awesome city of Bangalore. Bangalore was re-visiting relationships from yesteryear. I had met people after decades, to know that we could still laugh together!

Big deal of the month: Seeing nilgiri kurinji flowers, after a hike to Shola forests in Coorg.

August was taking time off for the annual family meet in Calcutta. And returning to Goa to attend families of warm guests. With the Monsoons fading away and two long weekends in the month, it was a super-busy month at Turiya. September was sober though I made a sudden visit to Bombay to surprise family, which fell flat on my face. Nonetheless, there is always something to celebrate in Bombay and no time to waste.

Big deal of the months: Realising that Goa was coming to an end.

October flew! Wrapped up my life from Goa-made a transitory stay in Bombay-moved remaining things to Calcutta-halted in Calcutta for a few days-flew to Singapore for the remaining month-took a weekend ferry to Indonesia. That’s all! Five geographic places in one month was rewarding while I continued to work as dedicatedly as I could.

Big deal of the month: Every day and night in Singapore!

On top of the world looking at the wonderland, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.
On top of the world looking at the wonderland, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.

More than half of November I spent recovering from Singaporean aftermath and suddenly, it occurred to me that I hadn’t climbed the mountains this year. Sure, I dove the sea but life is incomplete without the mountain air. With Calcutta was my basecamp, I travelled to heart-warming hill station of Darjeeling and allowed the Kangchenjunga to remind me of my existence. After the Sandakphu trek, I found my soul expressing gratitude and I developed a sense of belonging.

Big deal of the month: Seeing sunrise at Sandakphu.

Varanasi in December was colder than I thought but definitely safer than I remember it. After a gap of 9 years, I met a different Banaras with courteous people and spectacular winter mornings. I was travelling with family and I stole the chaotic Banaras mornings to wander around the ghats while meeting an old friend at noon.

Big deal of the month: Re-living winter mornings.

Trekking through the scenic Sandakphu route. Photo courtesy Marcel Neubacher.
Trekking through the scenic Sandakphu route. Photo courtesy Marcel Neubacher.

In retrospection, I realise we always get what our heart truly desires.

All images © Amrita Das.

Amrita Das

I have been a travel and culture independent journalist. My bylines have appeared in many publications worldwide including National Geographic Traveller India, Lonely Planet Magazine India, The Indian Express and World Travel Magazine. A fellow of Media Ambassadors India-Germany 2019 program by Robert Bosch Stiftung and Centre for Media Competence, University of Tübingen. Currently, I am the photo editor for RoundGlass Sustain, a wildlife and conservation e-publication. I live in India.

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10 thoughts on “2014 through my travel looking glass”

    1. Happy 2015, Susan! Thanks for stopping by. Let’s exchange many more travel stories this year :)

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