I’ve come to realize that traveling is about opening up your mind to new feelings and experiences, not about validating the opinions of past travellers.
21 months ago, when I packed up my home into a backpack and decided to hit the road indefinitely, I wondered how long it would take me to crave a “normal” life again.
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.
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.
Just over a week ago, I was a starry-eyed travel blogger on my way to my first TBEX, “the world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers, and new media content creators”. When they said largest, I didn’t realize I’ll be one among 1,000+ travel bloggers, albiet the only one travelling from India! Among them were renowned bloggers, some of who have inspired my own journey. Then there were those who have recently found their blogging legs, like myself. And the newbies. It was a mix, that over the course of the weekend, gave me a whole new perspective on travel blogging.
You heard that right. I’m one of 28 international bloggers to be invited by the Canadian Tourism Commission this May, for what sounds like an incredible trip to explore the maple leaf country. I’m going to be the only travel blogger from India, so that’s a little overwhelming! This 15-day trip will start in Vancouver, often ranked among the best cities to live in. From there, we’ll board the VIA Rail to the mountain town of Jasper, and to Winnipeg in the Canadian Prairies. The trip will end in Toronto, where we’ll be part of TBEX, the greatest international travel blogging conference. Seeing another one of my travel bucket list items turn to reality is unbelievably exciting!
As the New Year lurks around the corner, I often go to sleep wondering what opportunities might come my way in 2013. Maybe I’ll mend my ways and end up saving a fortune for a trip I’ve (secretly) been dreaming about. Or maybe, I’ll be tempted to spend what I’ve saved every now and then, and land myself in adventures I had never imagined, like I did in 2012. Maybe some unexpected press invites or sponsorships will come my way, or that mysterious uncle will finally appear and leave me a handsome inheritance!
If you’ve been following my travel adventures on Facebook or Twitter, you probably know by now which island country I’m heading to end of the month (oh yeah!). Incase you missed it, I’ll give it away with a hint: this island nation in the Indian Ocean, off the coast of Africa, has the reputation of being stunningly beautiful. Got it? In a discussion with a travel provider last week, I was told that if I intend to write about said island country for the Indian audience, I must follow an itinerary that would appeal to Indians. This itinerary, I was told, included a visit to a massive Shiva statue to “do pooja”, and this itinerary, I was told, would ditch skydiving because that’s just as good as sitting by the window seat as your flight lands along the azure blue seas, and twenty minutes of floating in mid air are not worth the money.
I’m finally back in Delhi after a month of travel exhilaration, first in Turkey, then in the Himalayas of Kinnaur. I have so much to write about both the trips that I don’t know where to start. Truth is, this week has felt like the kind of low Leonardo Di Caprio’s character in Basketball Diaries must’ve experienced while trying to get over his heroine addiction. After many days of being surrounded by gorgeous green landscapes interspersed with purple and yellow fields, deep blue waters, thick pine forests, misty skies, pure mountain air, and stark barren slopes, I’ve thrown myself in the deep end of city life in Delhi. The only difference is that for Leonardo, all the beauty was only a figment of his imagination.