I know what you are thinking. Not another end of the year roundup by a travel blogger. Can we not have something original for a change? In my case, I love reading such posts and I am hoping that you as my reader, would love to read how my year went too. Also, I feel everyone needs to do an introspection at least once in a year.
I did write a similar post around the same time last year. But life a year back was something totally different. Who would have thought that life would be so different right now?
I made some promises to myself last year around this time. I am glad that I was able to fulfill most of them. The biggest takeaway this year is that I have to listen to my heart more often. It knows me better than anyone else.
So how has life changed over the past year? It has been an exciting and emotionally satisfying year and I am thankful for getting so many opportunities to live my life to the fullest.
The toughest thing I did this year was finally letting go. Letting go of a job that I was married to for the past 9.5 years. There was a time when I was in love with the job but it had slowly started becoming monotonous. I still loved the workplace and my teammates but I finally realized that was not enough to continue doing the job. One fine day in February, I spoke to my dad about quitting and he encouraged me to follow my dreams.
Eventually, I joined my family’s entrepreneurship. Yes, you got that right. I am a struggling entrepreneur these days trying to figure out the tricks of the trade. So, what does that feel like? For someone who was used to playing only a professional role throughout her career, it has been an exciting learning curve. Some days I am my dad’s PA, some days a banker, some days the general manager, some days the website developer, some days the person in charge of technology (This is supposedly my designation), some days the counselor. You got the gist right. You cannot say no to any job when you are working in your own venture. But of all the things that perplexes me, nothing stuns me more than this one. How did I, an engineer, end up being the banker in a family that has too many accountants?
It has definitely been a fun learning experience. The best thing about my work life is that I have finally got the flexibility. Even though there are days when dad wants a report at midnight, it still gives me the flexibility to work from anywhere I want. For a person who had to travel more than 50kms on a daily basis, this was a much-needed respite. I hate driving for more than 30 minutes these days.
I am thankful to the year 2016 for the number of travel opportunities it has given me. I can safely say this now that 2016 is coming to an end. I made sure that I was on a plane to somewhere exotic or on a road trip around India at least once a month, sometimes even more. All this while holding down a full-time job. I even took a 5-6-week solo adventure across Europe between my two jobs.
I have already written about how I managed to travel solo this year. All I can say about solo travel is that I am finally discovering a side of me that I did not know I have. All through my life, I was the one who always put up a brave face, in spite of the circumstances. But after crying in too many countries this year, I have finally realized that it is perfectly okay to be vulnerable. In my experience, most people helped me through this phase and not a single person took advantage of my vulnerability. And that is why, in spite of what is happening around the world, I know for a fact that the number of good people outweigh the number of bad people by at least 10 times.
In a year that was marked by one global crisis after another, I am surprised that I made it to 11 countries, i.e. if you include my country, India. After all, why wouldn’t I include India when I have taken innumerable trips around India this year. If you thought that I am interested in only adding countries to my list, let me just say that 6 out of those 11 were repeat visits.
2016, thank you for so many memories. After all, which year till date had the pleasure of extracting so many emotions out of me. From falling in Lisbon to crying in Prague, from dancing in Madrid to going cave hopping in Algarve, from walking in the rain in Paris to falling in love with Colmar, from going on a nostalgic trip with besties in Cochin to a bachelor party in Goa, from watching operas in Vienna to the Moulin rouge in Paris, from walking the red light district in Amsterdam to walking on the cobbled paths in Bruges, from almost attending a Coldplay concert in Barcelona to getting lost in Strasbourg, from meeting so many inspirational bloggers in Hyderabad to coming in terms with the serenity of Pondicherry, from road tripping around South India with friends to visiting family in Trivandrum, from doing nothing in Frankfurt to leading an idyllic life in Mallorca, from showing the little devil/nephew around Dubai to showing him around the home city, Bangalore (This is the reason I have not written anything for the past 3 weeks).
Whew, that is a huge list and I have done all of them this year. I am yet to write about so many of these experiences and hopefully I will get to write about them soon.
So many people asked me what are my travel plans for 2017? No concrete plans have been made yet but I am hoping I can start this year’s travel plans with a bang in Andaman or Sri Lanka. Friends of mine, when will we start planning this trip?
However, I am hoping that 2017 will be a better year than 2016 when it comes to traveling. Cheers to that.
What can I write about blogging? It has been such a rewarding experience that I have no words to describe it. This year, I have collaborated with so many brands, both big and small, so many hotels, so many tourism boards that I am overwhelmed with the success of my small blog. Every week, I turn down offers due to lack of time and recently I had to turn down a FAM trip from a prestigious tourism board. My blog has finally started making some revenue and it helped me to fund at least 25% – 30% of my travel to Europe.
Don’t get me wrong. It is still a lot of hard work and I reiterate once again that it takes a long time to see the fruits of your labour. But if you are passionate about it, don’t give up like so many others after only a few months.
Also the number of pending articles I have in my drafts is ridiculous. Hopefully I will get to finish writing all of them soon.
Back to University:
It has been a long pending wish of mine, to go back to University. I did try a few years ago but I did not have the motivation to follow through. So, this year, when I got selected for a part time weekend course in one of the prestigious top business schools in India, I did not think twice. I also can’t believe that my one year in Uni is almost up and I would no longer be a student after February 2017.
Transitioning back to being a student was the toughest challenge I have done this year. I have learnt a lot this year from my faculty and fellow classmates at IIMB. Being a full-time employee and a part time student does mean that you will be up some nights till 4 AM trying to finish all those never-ending assignments. But I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything else and I am thankful to all those who made this possible.
My crazy inspirational family:
I don’t think any other family would have agreed to all my antics this year. After all, which other family would have allowed you to quit your job, go back to studies, join an entrepreneurship and allow you to travel solo around Europe? So, thank you for being there and not saying anything against all my decisions this year, including the ones that I didn’t write about.
Among all of us, I think we have been to at least 30 countries this year. We are grooming the 2-year-old nephew to be exactly like his globe-trotting family. He went to Jordan this year, his 3rd country and he fell in love with the horses and camels in Petra and cried his eyes out when he went to take a dip in the Dead Sea. For the past 3 weeks, he has not allowed any of us to sit at home even for a single day and I am pretty sure that I have seen more of Bangalore in these few weeks.
Only one. I read only 10 books this year. For a person who used to read at least 4-5 books per month, that is a huge deal. But the only books I could concentrate on this year were my accounting, marketing, strategy textbooks etc.
Many people ask me why I don’t write about the current political scenario in my country and the world. But I feel that there is already so much negativity in this world. In spite of someone calling me a pessimist this year, I am still very much an optimist at heart and that is why I prefer not to write about it.
Thank you everyone for being part of such an amazing year for TravelBooksFood and myself. So, the last words of this year on this blog, would be
“Wish You and your family a Happy and Prosperous New Year. See you on the other side of 2017”