As I reminisce over the year 2015, I really don’t know how to define it. Its been more like a game of truth and dare. While I did pocket a bunch of thrilling moments, most of the days of the year did not spare me from being dared by the ‘truth of life’. Overall, if I had to judge it, I would say it wasn’t an easy year. But if I had to name it in one word, I would call it ‘introspective.’
12th January, last year was my freedom day from my engineering job that had stopped inspiring me. And while I had no plan B, I had a desire to live my life the way I wanted. Not many would dare to do what I did because I wanted to read books, travel, blog, write my book, live with my husband, learn cooking and spend time with friends, family, cousins etc. Everyone told me I would want to return to my job very soon. I told them ‘we will see’.
It started off really well.In the first seven days, I had enough freelance writing work that I could easily declare that blogging was the next big thing but…. exactly, on the 19th day of January, my father-in-law vomited. Next day, he was hospitalized. He soon underwent an operation. He was shifted to ICU. He was put on ventilator. He survived to normal. He relapsed! On the days when I would sit all day from morning to night in the waiting room of the ICU, I would carry my laptop and write blogs from there. With so much pain all around, it helped me to keep my mind sane. If you wish to ask me, ‘how could I even think of blogging in those stressful days?’ I would say why not? Each day, I sat there with a positively in mind and blogging for me has always been about releasing positive energy in the universe. But on the 38th day of his hospitalization, we lost him. The first blow of the year was unbelievable. Even to this day, I wonder how did we survive those days.
Yes, I remember we huddled together and cried our hearts out. But I know I would never understand what my husband, my sis-in-law or my mom-in-law went through. Some losses are irreparable. This was one of them. By the time we got back to the semblance of normality, it was already mid of March. Suddenly, I realized I was badly affected by cold. I consulted the doctor but he had only six words to say,- ‘Go and get tested for swine flu’. I broke down in anger. Thank God, I survived the next three days. Of course, it was normal flu.
March was inconsolable and I could feel the silence in the house. April was my birthday month. And it brought me my first travel of the year. I had won a pan India blogging contest and I was off to meet Kangana Ranaut in Mumbai. My family was supportive. They said, I must do everything as it was supposed to be. Soon, in a few weeks Tourism Authority of Thailand sent me for a 7 day FAM (Familiarization) trip to Thailand where I was supposed to travel and blog (something that I love doing). May and June saw me traveling to Goa and Mumbai for blogging assignments. In July, beautiful hotels of Goa invited me again and then again. No less, my first trek of 5 kilometers happened at a beautiful place called Sursinghdar in July itself. Both as a travel blogger and a freelance writer, I began to do well once again. On the days I was not traveling, I was reading great books, spending quality time with my family members. I am glad I chose to do what I want to do. Best of all, no one directs me and no more do I beg for holidays to travel.
The first week of August was meant to be spent with Chhattisgarh Tourism Board but who knew an ankle fracture was waiting to happen. I thought it was a mild sprain until the x-ray reports spoke of something else. I still remember when the doctor had declared, No travel for next 8-12 weeks, I had cried for hours. August had been about intense pain. Thank God my always on-the go husband was by my side. September saw me painfully turn down travel trips to lovely places like Jordan and Maldives. I could not even walk. Some opportunities don’t come again. My bad! But in all these days of ‘complete bed rest’ I blogged every single day, I transformed my site to self-hosted and I did a lot of freelancing work. Not a day I wanted to go back to my high salaried day job.
In October, I got the privilege to travel to my own state, Uttar Pradesh as a travel blogger in the first ‘International Travel Writers Conclave, first of its kind that was happening in India’. I did those beautiful places- Agra, Chambal , Lucknow with an ankle splint on my leg. No wonder, it was taxing but I was happy doing what I loved. By the end of the month, I traveled to Mumbai for Tata Lit Fest with Writersmelon and a 2 day blogging event (BNLF- Blog Now Live Forever), first of its kind. The first edition of BNLF organized by Indiblogger was beautiful. I met some wonderful people there but of all the good things, I returned with two beautiful words and they have stayed with me- ‘authentic stories’. Christoph Trappe is the man who needs a mention here. (Read below to know more about his lessons)
November was completely about being a consultant’s wife. Husband was gone for his business trips again. We were not together yet again for our fourth wedding anniversary, neither for Diwali. On 24th, I flew to Dubai to be with him. It was such a relieve to see him after 12 weeks. Honestly, I hate being away from him even for 12 days. The Dubai story needs a book. I must write it someday- 30 days in Dubai…
December was starry and gorgeous. I was accredited as a press member at Dubai International Film Festival. It was a proud moment for me as a blogger. I made the best of the eight days and watched some amazing movies from across the world. Cinema has never felt so amazing and now none who can take away my love for world cinema. And of course, the best moment was to see my favorite one, Shahrukh Khan walk on the red carpet. Dubai trip was beautiful close to the year. And now I am back to India. Yes, I celebrated New Year eve with my mum-in-law while my husband is still away. Well, this was all about 2015. There were days when I asked myself why did it happen at all and there were days when I pinched myself to check did it really happen with me? Soon I learnt to find my answers in the silence of my own words. Yes, Blogging has been a constant thing and most important one.
The best thing about 2015 was learning to write authentic stories and I promise to better it in 2016. I must thank Christoph Trappe for this. A few important pointers from his workshop are as below. I am sharing them now because I had saved them for the first day of the new year.
-Stories happen all day long. There is no dearth to it. Write because you want to do it. Blog because you love to tell a story.
-When you tell stories, connect with people, be vulnerable and don’t hesitate from letting people peep in your life.
-Determine the need of a good story but some needs aren’t apparent so don’t overthink this, just post it.
-Trust me, if you are authentic in your story-telling, there will be people who will buy-in your story.
-Do your conversations step by step so that you do not lose the attention of your readers.
-Conflict is good but don’t manufacture it.
-If you don’t have time to blog, make time for it.
Happy New Year 2016!!!
I have said it all in the most authentic way. I promise 2016 will be about many more authentic stories from my closet.