This is all the advice I wish someone had given me when I was sixteen.
In 2013, when I went location independent and started travelling indefinitely without a home, Instagram was still in its infancy. Thank heavens. Although I had dreamy notions of what my life of long term travel might look like, I had somewhat realistic expectations of the challenges of a digital nomad: financial sustainability, the constant goodbyes, long stretches of poor wifi. Unlike my current Instagram feed, my head wasn’t exploding with perfect images of myself in a perfectly flowing dress on a perfect day in a perfectly isolated backdrop… Every time I look at a sky full of stars, I know that the darkness within each of us is a thing of beauty too 👀 . . On a dark, lonely night in Pachmarhi – Madhya Pradesh's only "hill station", I found myself under an incredible night sky with a naturalist from @forsythlodge and a local guide from Pachmarhi. The three of us, lost souls in our own ways, stood there watching the crescent moon set behind the hills, spotting shooting stars, deciphering constellations and the rustling in the …
I often look back upon my life, wondering at what point I went from being a regular, 20-something Indian girl trying to figure life out, to someone who (sometimes) gets paid to travel the world! Well, I’m still the regular, 20-something Indian girl, and I haven’t quite figured life out. Someday, this blog will remind me of all the things I was in my twenties, and if you’ve been following my travels, I’m pretty sure this little list is going to surprise you.
I’m cozying up in my favorite boutique hotel in Bangalore as I write this. This is the closest I’ve come to calling a place home over the last seven months, when I gave up my apartment in Delhi and adopted a nomadic life (Read: I’m Hitting The Road, Indefinitely). I’ve slow-travelled in Thailand since, sampled island life in the Seychelles, celebrated Christmas in Germany, splurged on Australia’s wine countryside, dived in the Philippines, and scratched India’s surface just a little deeper. I’ve experienced varying degrees of joy, nostalgia and frustration, but the feeling that has become a constant is that of liberation. In my mind and in my words, I feel no shackles. I plan to go as long and as far as the road will let me, but not before making these confessions:
By the time you’re reading this, I’ll be flying over the Indian Ocean to the exotic Seychelles islands. I haven’t stopped dreaming about the pristine beaches and turquoise waters since my trip to Mauritius last year (Read: What a Fisherman Taught Me About Paradise). I didn’t think the seagulls would call me back so soon. In fact, I didn’t think I’d be travelling internationally for a while. And there’s only one reason. I’m learning to walk away.
I sit 30,000 feet high, writing this as the sun sets above cotton-shaped clouds. The last two months have been a roller coaster ride, along the beaches of Karnataka, the backwaters of Goa, the terraced valleys of Kumaon, the forests of Madhya Pradesh, on trains and buses, and now, on my Indigo flight, headed to where it all began, Bangalore. It’s been two months since I packed up my life from Delhi and went location independent (Read: I’m Hitting The Road, Indefinitely). I’m euphoric on most days and nervous on some. I’m introspective on some days and carefree on others. As Shams of Tabriz once said, with a home nowhere, I have everywhere to go.
In the quaint French quarters of Pondicherry, I reflect on the first quarter of my life, reading what I penned almost two years ago: 25 things I’d tell the 25-year-old me. While I still have many layers to climb on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I’d like to think that I’ve already braced and beaten my quarter life crisis. It has been one and a half years since I took the plunge to quit my corporate job in Singapore in pursuit of all things travel; I’ve been on a roller coaster ride since, and looking back on how the dots in my life have slowly connected, I feel both grateful and humbled for where I am now – closer to that illusive feeling of happiness than I’ve ever been before.
After lots of reminiscing and writing in the first half of this month, I’m finally off on my next travel adventure! I’m escaping the cold of Delhi for warmer shores. I’m going to a region I’ve never been before. And I’m flying tomorrow night. Enough said. With the three hints below, I will let you guess where it is that I’ll be signing in next from. And to make it more interesting, the first person to guess it right in the comments gets a little gift from this “exotic” country.
Last week, I asked all you awesome people who read The Shooting Star, to ask me anything! Here comes my first set of answers: 1. DOES TRAVEL WRITING TAKE THE FUN OUT OF TRAVELLING? Hrishikesh Patil: Does being a travel writer take some fun out of travelling? Is it always at the back your mind that you need to do something that makes a great story or gives you a ‘wow’ photograph? You’ve really hit a nerve there! When I first started travel writing, stories seemed to find me, rather than the other way round.