Its December and it is time for flashback..I can never define a year as good or bad..it has always been mixed filled with moments that are extremely good and extremely bad. But then the memories matter. And that decides whether the year tilts in the direction of good or bad.
To begin with, I had no travel plans in my mind when I started out this year. In fact I was prepared to stop travelling to pursue something purely personal. But then I was going nowhere in that direction .
Initially I did not get to travel anywhere for the first five months . I declined a whole lot of trips and invitations thanks to health related issues. Personal disappointments followed. But I pulled myself up . And the last six months cruised through.While I did not really succeed in my personal aspirations, ironically it was my travel that saw me through that phase.
It just struck me that a lot of us walk down a path looking for something that is actually not there. Meanwhile we miss the opportunities that are available to us elsewhere as we are not really looking in that direction. And that is probably why I veered back to travelling.
Probably the post is a bit early but as the year ends, I am happy and contended. I have had a great time experiencing every opportunity possible. And I am grateful that I got to travel so much despite everything. Some of the highlights of this year had been .
I travelled from Kashmir ( Read Dawn at Nagin Lake ) to Kanyakumari literally, though not on the Chennai Express. In fact my first trip was to Kanyakumari, Nagercoil and to my village Kallidaikurichi early this year.
I saw Rajasthan ( Read Eight days Eight Memories in Rajasthan) and had my tryst with the desert. Jaisalmer (Read Kuldhara – Haunted Village ) had been so long in the bucket list. And I finally got to visit Ajmer and the Dargah. .
I travelled extensively in my own state – Tamil Nadu and revisited the Cholas.(Read the Chola Trail.)
I saw flamingos in Madras (Read Flamingos in Singara Chennai) and visited one of my favourite haunts – the Broken Bridge( Read A Morning in Chennai) to do some bird watching where I spotted several sand plovers.
I holidayed in the lesser known beaches of Kannur in Kerala and saw a bit of a local version of Theyyam.
I went to Sringeri on my annual pilgrimage (I try to make it annual but it is eventually once in two years) and finally to Hornadu..can never forget that ricketty bus experience.
I chilled in Coorg and did a lot of bird watching and got hooked on to butterflies.
And Internationally I visited Asia and Middle East and Europe.
Every experience has been something new . Snorkelling in Malaysia,River rafting in Thailand, not to forget the awesome vegetarian food, crossing the border into Cambodia, a helicopter ride in Dubai, Christmas markets in Germany..
I had several international invites this year, of which I could accept a few. But what I really cherish is that I was invited to three of them – Malaysia, Thailand-Cambodia and Dubai-Oman as a blogger, representing India in international meets. That for me is very special. It also feels good because I have slowly emerged as a professional blogger.
Another first was that one of them – Dubai – Oman was for a corporate and not a tourism company or an airline – the launch of Nokia Lumia 1020.
On the blogging front, i finally migrated from blogger to word press and registered my own domain and got my own site thanks to a dear friend. And the blog has slowly made its transition from a pure personal to a professional one and has been listed in the top 30 professional blogs from India.
And I got some interesting deals – a US based production company wanted to buy some pictures from me of Emperor Ashoka, taken in a remote destination called Sanathi and they did and paid me quite handsomely too…
I also got to work with some awesome clients and brands like Marriott, Nokia Lumia, Lufthansa, Sennheisser among others..
On the writing front, I have written for several magazines and added a few new ones to my kitty – HT Mint, Time Out, Complete Well being, India Today Travel Plus, Times Crest (pity they shut down), DNA , The Wall, among others..
I completed five years of writing Inside Story, my column for The Hindu .
And I edited a travel supplement for The Hindu Traveller.
And I got featured – Femina featured me in their crowd sourced issue, Made in india ( I did my first photo shoot as well ) Marriott and Sennheiser featured me in videos, I got written about in Sunday Times and DNA..
Besides travel, I started selling filter coffee – speciality single origin Arabica seeds that came all the way from Chikmagalur. I have sold almost 200 kgs now and they have been bought by people from over 15 cities in India now. Interestingly the coffee got me more press than my travels – was featured in BBC Food Guide and in Brown Paper Bag..
Besides post crossing, I have a new interest now – collecting old Raja Ravi Varma prints.
Oh yea,I made loads of new friends and focussed on creating time to meet both old and new friends.
There have been countless issues and no closures to them..but then what the hell..I think the needle tilts to good when it comes to 2013..what say ? Oh ya..I have another few weeks to go ! Christmas plans are being made as I write this..will be in my favourite Malnadu region near Belur, in a coffee plantation and then head to a Christmas party in a club at Saklespur. I will like to go home to Madras (Chennai) for some quiet, some time with parents and friends, some masala pori time at Madras Cricket Club,some music at Marghazhi festival and canteen hopping from one sabha to another eating some delicious food of renowned chefs like Mountbatten Mani, Gnanambika, Arusuvai..(Well, you dont need Michelin stars for them ) My year does not end without a trip to my home town.
And summing up I realized that my trips have been a bit less than usual but more varied in experiences . But that is also because I could not plan any personal trip this year because of my health. I took whatever came my way whenever I was fit to travel but I did decline a whole lot of trips. While some invites clashed with my existing trips, I decided to say no to a few of them because they were just not working out.
But before I end my 2013 story, there is one thing that I need to share and that is my mantra. I have always been the kind of person who takes things as they come. I do not plan too much and I am trying not to work myself up into planning or ensuring that I am on the road every day of my life. Some people like it that way. But I need to be home after every trip. I need to see my family, lie on my favourite pillow, talk to my plants and watch birds from my balcony. I dont want travel to become another job…another place I have to rush to every morning. I might have as well stuck to my corporate job then. But that said, I enjoy the rush on the road, the new sights and sounds and the many faces who become friends after every trip.
And that is my 2013 story..would love to read yours..please share them ! And make the most of this month and enjoy what is left of 2013 ! Cheers..