On April 6 2014, I sold my things, packed only the very necessary, unwillingly wound up my life in Bombay and prepared to move to Turiya Villa and Spa for my first seasonal job for the next six months. At that point in time, the only plan I had was to travel limitless and unselectively.
Fast forward exactly a year later, I woke up to the white Himalayan peaks in Uttarakhand, staying in the very charming Mir Bahay, loving the silence of my own company and knowing that I had time on my side. At the point, the only thing I was sure of is that I was leaving for Delhi in a few hours and then less than a week later, for Arunachal Pradesh.
The stark contrasts in these two situations is divided only by a single term- work. In 2014 when I quit and took up my short-term job in South Goa, I knew I had to work. I had to work to live there, I had to work to get that beer, I had to work to travel even for the weekend and I had to work to keep my dream alive.
This year, things have not changed much. I still have to work for all of those things and more. But now I have experience on my side. And looking back a year, I wish I had done certain things differently.
What did not work for me
Losing my support system
My foremost battle was choosing between moving out and staying in Bombay. Living in the city meant prioritising money and hence, losing out on time to travel. Moving out was equivalent to leaving behind my huge support system there. I chose the latter, by relocating to a neighbouring state and bringing in a slow heartbreak. It worked for me. It still hurts me not to know most of their every day lives, but when we meet after months, it feels like I was with them just yesterday. That kind of bond is incredibly powerful; one which cannot be breached by any number of kilometres between them.
Travelling more, talking less
I am a traveller. I will travel with or without money, with or without an intent. It is a way of life. However, I realised late in the game that not talking about my travels is working against me. I have met people who travel less and talk more about it. On the other hand, I find it increasingly difficult to talk about my life. I am a listener. I like listening to your stories, and then perhaps, we exchange stories. Most of my travels until December 2014 are not documented on the blog yet. Having said that, I know Goa, Madikeri and Virajpet in Coorg, Varanasi and Bodhgaya, amongst others like the back of my hand.
There are always people who tell us why we will fail and it came as no surprise to me when I faced similar negativity. However, in retrospect, my behaviour towards them amazes me. I have been an eternal optimist and it is uncharacteristic of me to even allow this kind of energy influence me. Yet, there have been moments when I have questioned my line of work and approach. I admit, intervention and speculation is necessary but that has to be free from all prejudices and influence. I do evaluate my work even now, but I selectively choose the words that affect me.
What worked for me
Making new friends
As an introvert traveller, I face contradictions within me when I meet new people. Allowing myself to open my heart, my mind and my arms to strangers has helped me grow socially. I get immense confidence when I realise that I have made new friends in the blogging community as well as on the road. These people are across the world, from very different professions and have very interesting lives. It warms my heart to have witnessed that some of us wear a lovely smile behind that Twitter handle or the blog URL, that Jawans of the Indian Army also love selfies, that humour and food bonds us more than money, and that Bollywood is all-encompassing.
I’ve allowed naivety grow in me every day. I know sometimes that makes me an idiot, but I’d rather be happy. I don’t follow undercurrents, politics or subtly and I prefer my life like that. We are all here to be happy and I suppose only our paths are different. This belief has helped me understand and work with people who follow the same philosophy. I may have lost out on a lot of work, thanks to my direct approach, but doing what I know and believe in provides a far superior satisfaction.
Writing my heart out
Unfortunately, I can be tagged as a ‘workaholic’ and I have to admit that my work is like a drug. And to support this addiction, I write every day. Whether it is a submission, a guest post, my journal, my blog, random scribblings, a letter (yes I write letters) or a piece of poem, I don’t allow the fear of not being able write overpower me. Writing has taught me how to articulate feelings I never thought I could, it has made me fearless, it has become a medium of sharing dreams and it brings in the money.
Keeping myself open to feedback is mandatory. While working with a professional travel blogger, I learnt aspects of myself as a writer I didn’t know existed. Her feedback continues to put me back on track when necessary.
Putting words to my travel has made me travel differently. I want to explore rural lives because their stories need to be told, I want to keep travelling by myself because women should know that it is not a herculean task and I want climb rough trails because I know I will live to write the story.
Share your dream with me?