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Confessions of an Indian Travel Blogger.

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It’s been a big weekend for me as a travel blogger, this time not for travelling somewhere daringly off the beaten track, but for having one such of my adventures published in India’s most widely read daily publications – The Times of India. It is perhaps every travel blogger’s starry-eyed dream to see their work in print, and in print that is so widely read. As I watched that dream unfold on Saturday’s paper (literally), I couldn’t help but think of the rungs I’ve climbed and skipped to get here.

It’s been just over 6 months since I quit my corporate job, and moved home to India to take travel writing seriously. I started with no contacts in the publishing industry, no connections in the blogging fraternity, and parents who were at best, terrified at the idea of me travelling in India. I’ve come a long way since (them too), and here are 5 confessions on how I got here:

1. On being relentless.

Generalizations aside, India is still largely a country of engineers. As the tables sway towards bankers, money, stability & comfort are what most people aspire to. For me to be galloping along a road less travelled, literally, meant fending off obstacles that looked like a fat paycheck, shone like a promising corporate career, and had the menacing ring of societal & familial expectations.

My early training as a rebel (self-training that is) helped in the relentless pursuit of what I wanted to do; break away from the shackles of a desk-bound life, see the world with my own lens, and paint my own stories about it for those that couldn’t have my wings. As Eminem would’ve said, you can do anything once you set your mind to it.

female travel blogger, indian travel blogger, travel writer

2. On being brown.

Now there’s a cliche, you might say. But this isn’t about that, about being singled out for your skin color and having your passport checked  (which has happened, by the way). This is about what you acquire in your genes. I’ve outdone locals in fare negotiations in foreign countries, mastered the tricks of travel contests, and cracked many a bargain dubiously designed to lure people; my Indian blood doesn’t cool off with anything less than a value for money deal, and that’s just what I need to sustain my travels.

These genes have a darker side too; we grow up with the assumption of guilty, until proven otherwise. Sometimes it helps to trust that gut, sometimes it makes for an interesting story.

3. On being social.

If there is one thing to which I owe my conviction as a blogger, my insatiable desire to venture off the beaten path, my will to get out of bed after a sleepless night (causes range from snoring company on a public bus to not knowing where money for the next trip will come from), and my motivation to fight the writer’s block, it has to be the strangers that I’ve come to know through my social networks. My day starts and ends with Twitter, and that’s where I know most of what I know about blogging, writing and life. My virtual relationships range from personal to professional, and are a constant backbone for every situation I find myself in (vice-versa too, of course).

Besides owing a chunk of my blog traffic and followers to social networking, the world of social media is also my source of friends, professionals & experts in the editorial space and the blogging fraternity.

travel blogger, social media, travel writing, working on the go

4. On being in love.

I’ve always had a thing for words, the way they can manipulate your mood, create images in your mind, and keep you company through good & bad times. Most people take on travel blogging for the love of either travel or writing, and a gooey balance of both is the sign of a winner. Unfortunately, slipping out of that ring of love is easy under the pressure of writing deadlines, editorial guidelines, and dollar signs. When it took me four straight days to churn out an article for a publication that I would have otherwise penned within hours, I knew I was in trouble.

Falling out of love is not an option. Not with travel, not with writing, and I’ve learnt to give myself a breather every now & then by writing something exclusively for my blog. It is an exercise in creativity, with such freedom as most editorial glares don’t allow. It is good for my soul.

5. On being brave.

Lurking around the corner from your glorious days when words flow around like a cool summer breeze and you strike a chord with your favorite editors, are bad days, days with sleepless nights, days with no words, days with no story ideas, days with no emails, days with no comments, days with low traffic, days that you want to hit the delete button of your blog and go into hiding.

On such days, I seek inspiration in the travelogues of fellow bloggers whose words add color to my grey world. On such days, I find peace in browsing through my own archives and marveling at the words I once strung together. On such days, I resort to the visual memories of my travels, which sometimes speak louder than any words ever can. On such days, I put on a brave face and oil those hinges and hope that tomorrow will be a better day. It usually is.

Indian, female, travel writer, blogger

On that note, I’d like to thank you for virtually keeping me company on my travels, reading my blog posts & articles, being part of my Facebook & Twitter community, and encouraging me to do the things I love to do.

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65 Comments Post a comment
  1. Congratulations on your big weekend, Shivya, and here’s wishing you many more such weekends and weekdays to come. :-)

    March 20, 2012
  2. Congratulations!!! How wonderful for you. I hope the success continues.

    March 21, 2012
  3. Oh! So cute. Shivya you are amazing at expressing human emotions in beautiful words and that’s what makes your special. All the best. I’m sure loads to come – All hearty surprises :)

    March 21, 2012
    • Thanks Krishnam, I try my best ;) Thanks for being a loyal reader of The Shooting Star!

      March 21, 2012
  4. One thing to say. Being an Indian with an itchy feet, I must say that you’re blog is inspiring, especially for a person who sits in his desk all day thinking how to feed his travel bug! Your way of expressing things is what caught my eye. All the best to you, keep inspiring :)

    March 21, 2012
    • Thanks & welcome to The Shooting Star :) I’m glad you found some inspiration here. I’ve been in the ‘sitting behind a desk thinking’ position now so long ago, and I can’t tell you how liberating it is to break away. Do it sooner than later!

      March 21, 2012
  5. Congrats Shivya for following your dream :)

    March 21, 2012
    • Thanks Vandhana, and thanks for reading as always!

      March 21, 2012
      • Nishu #

        Hi Shivya,
        I’m Vandhana’s sister. Congrats on following your passion and having your article published. You do have a way with words.
        -Nishu

        March 29, 2012
        • Thanks Nishu, good to see you here :)

          March 31, 2012
  6. What a nice young lady,! . To follow your heart and your dream, and get out of the beaten track, needs so much of guts and support. Congratulations.

    You write from your heart and it touches our hearts. All of us want to travel, some on the beaten tack, some off , and some armchair.

    Looking forward to read through all your pages.

    Congratulations on being published in TOI. Wishing you many more !

    Enjoy.

    March 21, 2012
    • Welcome to The Shooting Star :) I’m glad you enjoyed reading what i had to say. It’s the support & encouragement of readers like you that inspire me to do what I do, so thank you!

      March 21, 2012
  7. kanika #

    congratsss….:-)

    March 21, 2012
  8. I love travelling. Can do local travel alone, but do what you do is marvelous and encouraging when I find noone to go with!

    March 21, 2012
    • I know what you mean. It takes some guts, but it can also be addictive. Good luck on your travels! Hope to follow them here & on twitter :)

      March 21, 2012
  9. loved it to the very core…esp

    My early training as a rebel (self-training that is) helped in the relentless pursuit of what I wanted to do; break away from the shackles of a desk-bound life, see the world with my own lens, and paint my own stories about it for those that couldn’t have my wings. As Eminem would’ve said, you can do anything once you set your mind to it.

    Very straight from the heart. Glad to have found you at Indiblogger. Your newest follower and a regular visitor now.
    cheers
    Kajal

    March 21, 2012
    • Welcome to my blog, Kajal, glad you found it :) Look forward to your virtual company on my travels!

      March 21, 2012
  10. Malika #

    Shivya, love what you’re doing!!!
    you can add one more to your ‘followers list’.

    March 22, 2012
  11. Shivya, I love writing and travelling too but I do not have the courage to give up my job. :) So, well done for that!
    And congratulations for the TOI article. :)

    March 22, 2012
    • Amit, to be fair, travel writing is not my only source of income. I run a travel company + do some freelance work too :) It’s worth a shot, doing the things you love.

      March 22, 2012
  12. Rohan #

    Super late to read this, but had bookmarked it to visit it when I had time. As always, a well written piece that not only gives us a peek into that mind of yours, but inspires us to realize how important it is to chase one’s dreams. Will buzz you sometime when the campaign fever dies down here. :)

    March 22, 2012
    • Better late than never ;) We’ve got lots to catch up on, though I don’t think the campaign fever’s going to die down anytime soon!

      March 22, 2012
  13. Congrats and continue the great work ….

    March 22, 2012
  14. debajyoti #

    congratulations. i really liked ur ‘lady in red’ post and that’s why i was bit intrigued when i saw ur post on indivine.

    all the best in ur future endeavors!

    March 22, 2012
    • Thanks Debajyoti :) Glad you enjoyed reading that one!

      March 22, 2012
  15. Congratulations & Celebrations.

    March 23, 2012
  16. Yogesh Singh Rawat #

    Nice work shivya

    March 24, 2012
  17. Congratulations Shivya. It takes something to follow your heart! :-)

    March 25, 2012
    • Thanks Stuti, it’s not as hard once you set your mind to it ;)

      March 27, 2012
  18. This is awesome. Congratulations! I am so happy for you, and PROUD of you even-despite never actually “meeting” you. :)

    March 27, 2012
    • Thanks Claire! Yours is one of the travel blogs I find recluse in when the going gets tough :) Thanks for reading, as always.

      March 27, 2012
  19. If there is one place on the face of earth where all the dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is Incredible India! :)
    Best of luck for your future endeavors!

    March 27, 2012
  20. Your thoughts are wonderfully expressed in this blog and I feel so happy to know that you travel around the world and share with the world your experiences about India and other countries. I will be following your blog from now on. I am an author and a travel enthusiast myself, and I am inspired by your never say die and positive attitude to follwo your heart and travel throughout the world :)

    March 29, 2012
    • Thank you, and welcome to The Shooting Star! I’m sure I’m going to find equal inspiration for you :)

      March 31, 2012
  21. Dev #

    In your case, wishing luck, would be redundant.
    Your passion and love for travelling will take you where you want to be. :-)
    Stay awesome!

    March 31, 2012
    • Haha, only as far as the money would take me ;) Btw you’ve been among the earliest readers of The Shooting Star, thanks for that!

      March 31, 2012
  22. Wow, I just love all the pictures that you have on your post. They all describes the beauty of Indian beauty, its So Pure, Natural & clean!! Thank You…

    May 19, 2012
    • Thanks John, glad you enjoyed seeing India virtually :)

      May 19, 2012
  23. Hi Shivya,

    Its really great reading your blogs and following you on twitter, your writing style always fascinate me while reading your blogs it seems first you dip your words in honey before sailing it in the ship of emotions(blog)..Your writting inspired me so much that i too wanna live life like you, in my own terms.
    I simply love reading your blogs…& All the best for coming journeys..Wish u Gud Luck.. :)

    May 25, 2012
    • Thanks Piyush, I’m glad you enjoy my ‘honey-coated’ words! I shall continue to indulge my itchy feet and tweet, facebook & blog about my adventures.

      All the best with taking the plunge to make a living on your terms. Keep me posted on that :)

      May 25, 2012
  24. Congratulations Shivya, wishing you many more success in your life!!!

    June 30, 2012
  25. Great post. Your way of presentation is very very good.

    July 11, 2012
  26. param #

    hi shivya,
    U hv a unique way of expressing thoughts n dats wat i think makes d readers glued to reading ur blogs..congrats fr d achievement..wish u success
    Hope many more will follow :-)

    August 28, 2012
  27. Beautifully written. congrats !!!

    November 28, 2012
  28. You are an incredible woman, Shivya and I follow you often from a distance! May your tribe grow and may others, specially women learn from your success!

    March 2, 2013
    • Thanks Bhavana, like everyone else, I’m trying to figure out life and do the things that make me happy :) Thanks for your encouraging words!

      March 2, 2013
  29. Kailash #

    Few people dare to dream and rarer are those who follow their dreams. You are one of those rarest breeds that inspire several others who are really afraid to pursue their dreams! Wish you the very best and dont ever stop pursuing your dreams.

    July 15, 2013
  30. Wow congratulations for your big weekend!

    July 16, 2013
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    December 17, 2013
  32. Annice Dominic #

    In one word “INSPIRING”. I want to be a travel writer too n right now I am in your condition of 2011. It was the risk of the life you took and somehow taught me to take one for me too. Thank You and Congratulations.

    January 16, 2014
  33. Hi Shivya! Congratulations!! It’s nice to see your untethered stream of consciousness find their way through words.. in the TOI article and the nice confessional blog post that you got here.

    Here’s hoping that your lifelong love affair with travel and words never ends! :-D

    February 4, 2014

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