Life, Lemons and the Last Year

Sometimes life gives you lemons and some seriously big or bitter ones, not that I don’t like lemons I absolutely love them but these lemons can be a real pain. Life is difficult and none of us has mastered the art of living yet. Therefore, what do you do when life throws lemons at you? Well, you catch them, mix some ginger syrup with Hendrick’s gin and add a dash of lemon juice to make the perfect Lemon Gingerini.

Well, this post isn’t about making cocktails or discussing lemons as such but this is about my year 2016 in a recap.2016 started on a very difficult note. I found out about my illness and was heartbroken.

When you don’t have any other option left apart from being strong, strength comes to you innately from unknown sources.

Probably that is what is called the ‘Divine Intervention’. After one surgery and quarterly check-ups and follow-ups with the doctors at the hospital, I managed to see 2016 do miracles for me. Yes, this has a happy ending, please read on to find out.

The biggest decisions ever

I was working with a leading startup as an Assistant Manager handling Content in Gurgaon, India. I was happy with my job and the people I interacted with. However, something never felt right being away from home and family, missing out on all the important family gatherings, festivals and the love of ageing grandparents for 8 long years.

I found out about my condition in January 2016 and within a couple of hours my whole world turned upside down. I could literally hear shattering glass noises and the ground beneath my feet disappearing. Huh! Melodrama or NOT, things were changing and at a pace that I couldn’t figure out what should I do next.

Within those few hours, I decided I had to take a second opinion from a renowned specialist, verify if I am cured or not, I had to quit my job, the only source of my income, sell my belongings and relocate to my hometown.

With the help of family and some really amazing friends who have stuck by my side for eternity, I came out victorious. A second opinion from the doctor confirmed I was cured. I could sell few of my stuff, managed to send my belongings through packers and movers and finally bought a ticket home.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year
A small souvenir from my last organisation was my only companion as I waited to board my flight from Delhi back home.

I left Gurgaon with a heavy heart; this city probably gave me the toughest time of my life but somehow infused more strength and courage in my heart. I was not going to miss this city but I knew I shall remain grateful for the things that shaped the course of my life thereafter. I boarded my flight on 28th January 2016 back to the comfort of my mother’s arms and my safe haven that I had missed for 8 long years. I was finally home.

My Travel Blog- Resfeber18

I created Resfeber18 back in 2015 and it was the only connection to sanity amidst the insane rat race that I was running in without an idea of the finish line.

You know how we all have a passion but have our minds conditioned to believe that you would be a fool if you pursued your passion and not settle for the safe options in life.

I too settled for a safe option after my MBA, worked with an MNC and then a startup, drew a regular salary, saved a little, shopped to bring momentary happiness on my face, ate at swanky restaurants and hoped to get married someday in a dreamy bridal attire and live happily ever after. But deep down I wanted to be that girl, who travelled alone to amazing places, who ignited her passion for writing about these places, who worked to help people less fortunate than her and someday settle for travelling the world. It’s a mess when you have such duality running parallel in your mind. I had to pick one.

So how has 2016 been?

Well, a family astrologer predicted that 2016 was going to be the toughest year of my life. I should probably not travel and shall remain unemployed until next year. All in all his prediction was disastrous.

I travelled for 7 months this year and visited 1 neighbouring country and 15 different places in India. I wrote for some travel portals apart from the other projects that kept coming from time to time. I also won a Travel Contest on Tripoto that enabled me to fly high above the sky in a hot air balloon. However, amidst all these, I also got better at life and here’s how things changed for me from March 2016.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year
Wanderlust struck 2016!

March 2016 took me to the Happy Kingdom- Bhutan

I travelled to Bhutan where I stayed with a Bhutanese family. I met Sonam for the first time. The hospitality that I received at her home was a reflection of the Bhutanese culture and simply won me over. Not for a single moment did Sonam and her Mum let me feel homesick.  That is the kind of warmth they exuded.

It is in Bhutan that I realised there is no better way to experience a place than staying with the locals.

Resfeber18
Bhutan- the Land of Compassion and pure Happiness.

Bhutan mesmerised me with its beauty, hospitality and compassion. I hiked up to the Tiger’s Nest within 4 months of recuperating from a major surgery and with a painfully lagging stamina.

That was my first big win of the year. Standing atop the hill overlooking the Taktsang Monastery perched atop the majestic Himalayas, I realised life is much more than the hurdles that try to obstruct your journey.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year
That’s me on my way up to the Tiger’s Nest.

Through Sonam, I met a very wise and learned Rinpoche who enlightened me about compassion and how it should work in each one of us. The conversation we had has left lasting imprints on my mind and I am ever grateful to Sonam for acting as the catalyst to a lot of changes in me and my mindset in the months that followed.

April was heartbreaking and anxious.

April wasn’t as eventful as the previous month but was significant. In April we relocated to a small town in West Bengal from Gangtok after living there for an eternity. My dad retired from his service in the Ministry of Home Affairs and we had to part ways with the city I grew up in. Saying goodbye to Gangtok wasn’t easy and leaving that home has been the most heartbreaking experience of the past year.

With April I realised the concept of Home isn’t a constant one. Life is dynamic and homes keep changing. Home is actually where your family and your heart are.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year
The view from my window back in Gangtok.

I was also scheduled to undergo my routine check-up at the hospital in Delhi. Two days of toil and anxiety came with the sweet news of being disease free and fit to probably head out to another expedition.

May made my way to the City of Joy.

May brought in a wave of nostalgia by taking me back to my graduation days in Kolkata. I was here to attend a Travellers Meet organised by Kolkata Bloggers. The surprise came in the form of my name appearing in one of the leading dailies, Times of India and being mentioned as a noted Travel Blogger. I didn’t really consider myself worthy of such a mention at that time, yet it did motivate me to work harder.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year
A small fish in the ocean!

I had a wonderful experience listening to fellow travel bloggers and their experiences in this domain. This was an enlightening experience into the untapped potential of blogging in the domain of Travel and Tourism. I got a chance to see some amazing work of accomplished photographers such as Mrs Jayati Saha and Mr Srivatsan Sankaran as well as understand the perspectives of travel blogging through some of India’s best Travel bloggers like Mrs Anuradha Goyal and Mr Rangan Dutta who have many accolades accredited to their names.  I heartily thank Kolkata Bloggers and Anirban Saha for giving me such an opportunity.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year
Picture Credit: Kolkata Bloggers and http://www.anirbansaha.com

June and July nestled me at home.

Nothing worth mentioning in these months though July was all about my birthday and me being able to celebrate it with my family after 6 long years.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year.
Yoohoo! July, my birthday month.

August went into some crazy travel plans.

August was again the time for my routine check-up at Delhi. A little complication arose this time but was overcome with a little faith and positivity.

Darjeeling welcomed me with its romantic milieu and I was lucky to be able to catch a glimpse of the sunrise from the Tiger’s Hill. Chasing the Barfi trail in Darjeeling was the happiest highlight of this year. I visited all those iconic places as portrayed in the movie Barfi and my favourite was Keventer’s the place where Ranbir sees Ileana for the first time.

However, it was the confluence of two religions, Hinduism and Buddhism at the Mahakal Temple that reinforced my faith in Compassion.

2
The Happy Valley Tea Estate in Darjeeling!

I visited Kolkata again and this time to embrace Daishonin Buddhism into my life.  I have been able to handle my anxiety and moments of depression effectively with this practice.

Revisit
Kolkata

I then headed to Digha in the Southern part of West Bengal. Digha is the most favoured weekend getaway for the people of Kolkata. Beaches, sea, waves, sailing ships, fisheries and serenity define this location. This trip was with my daddy dearest and was the perfect break we both needed. His retirement and my gap year made for the perfect conversations. We travelled to Manadarmoni, Mohana, Tajpur and Talsari in Orissa to chase hermit crabs, click numerous pictures, splash seawater, eat a lot of seafood and to get a horrible tan.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year.
Watching a colourful collage of sorts in Digha.

September took me to the land of the royals-Rajasthan.

A small assignment was the precursor to venturing into the land of regal opulence. Backpacker Panda, a leading backpacking hostel chain approached me to write about them and here I was headed to The City of Lakes- Udaipur. Udaipur left me spellbound with its grandeur and unbound beauty. The palaces, the bazaars, the people, the lakes and the whole aura of this magical city were surreal.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year.
Lake Pichola in Udaipur.

It was in Udaipur that I came across the Balika Awasiya Vidyalaya. Here I came to know about the perils of a social malpractice called the Naata Pratha that was initially aimed to safeguard the rights of women but gradually turned out to disrupt the lives of many women living in rural Rajasthan. Read more about Naata Pratha here. However, it is the children who suffer the wrath of such a system in the state.

The children were adorable, their eyes filled with dreams and their hearts emanated kindness. Most of them want to be teachers or doctors when they grow up. On being asked about the choice of their ambition, one kid happily remarked,” Hum dusro ki madad karna chahte hain Didi.” (We want to help other people through our choice of profession when we grow up).

Meeting these children here brought a sudden wave of realisation that as kids there is no such dream that is impossible and also the fact that kindness and compassion come naturally to us. But what goes wrong as we grow up?

The love that the girls at the Balika Awasiya Vidyalaya showered on me can be hardly described in words. I am still looking for any possible way to help these girls of the Balika Awasiya Vidyalaya.

Rajasthan Bal Kalyan Samiti, Udaipur
At the Balika Awasiya Vidyalaya in Udaipur.

As I parted ways with Udaipur overwhelmed and lost in my thoughts, my wanderlust further took me to the blue city of Jodhpur. The city’s showstopper is the majestic Mehrangarh Fort that lights up the entire city in its grandeur. Furthermore, once you climb up to its regal premises you realise that there is whole other blue sea of splendour waiting down below to engulf your senses in an inexplicable wonder.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year.
Jodhpur in its absolute grandeur

The Mishrilal Hotel served me the gastronomically delightful Makhania Lassi topped with some unadulterated love. A non-foodie human (yours truly) went gaga over the burst of flavours that this piece of art brought to the taste buds.

Shri Mishrilal Hotel-Jodhpur
Shri Mishrilal Hotel-Jodhpur

Mandore kept me enthralled from the moment I came to know about its evident connection with Ramayana. Apparently, Mandore is Ravan’s sasuraal. I found out the exact place where it is believed that Ravan entered into holy matrimony with his wife Mandodari.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year.
The very place in Mandore where Raavan married Mandodari.

A little further Osian was another spectacle of sorts. A small stretch of Thar Desert that emanated the true beauty of a barren land was the perfect place to watch the sun go down.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year.
At Osian.

October was filled with festivity

When you live away from family you tend to miss out on the little joys of life. It is sad that in the constant rat race we are in to do justice to our qualification, to earn some more money, to live a semi-affluent lifestyle and to adhere to the conformities of society we forget there are people who would give anything to spend some time with us and these are none other than our parents. Thus, October was dedicated to spending time home and indulging in the fun and frolic of festivals I had missed all these years.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year.
At a Durga Puja Pandal.

November took me back to Rajasthan.

Leaving Rajasthan the last time was painful. I term myself as a homebound traveller, I am always delighted to come back home but parting ways with Jodhpur the last time strangely made me homesick for Rajasthan. Amidst all the festivity of October came my biggest win of 2016. I had participated in a Travel Contest conducted by Tripoto that required the participants to share their experiences of travelling in Rajasthan and I had written about my experiences of Jodhpur. I won this contest and was sent on a trip to Pushkar to experience the Pushkar Camel Fair. The cherry on top was the complimentary hot air balloon ride and a luxury camping experience sponsored by Skywaltz. Read about my first hot air balloon ride and glamping experience here. I visited Jaipur too on a detour and shopped to my heart’s content too. What more does a girl need in life?

My First Hot Air Balloon Safari at Pushkar, Skywaltz.
The Pushkar Camel Fair.

December was the final test.

My final review at the hospital in Delhi was scheduled for December and the anxiety had started kicking in. This was the final exam I had to overcome and with God’s grace, a lot of faith and blessings from all the well wishers I emerged victorious yet again. I thank you all for being there.

I headed to Haridwar and Rishikesh to end my eventful 2016 and immerse myself in the tranquil spirituality that managed to make me smile through all the lemons that kept coming my way.

Life, Lemons and the Last Year
Holy Ganges in Haridwar.

I took the toughest decisions of my life this year and pursued my passion for travelling and writing.  The year 2016 may not have been financially awesome or stable but I realised that pursuing your passion can give you much more happiness and contentment than money can.

Family is important, not just when you are sick or you need care but because without your family you cannot really live life.In this maddening race to excel in lives, we forget to see that our parents are ageing and they need us.

To justify our degrees and to have better lifestyles we give up on them, they do not complain or throw tantrums but it is our duty to be by their side when they need us the most.

Life is beyond a customary educational qualification, a well-paying job and all those safe options. You have one life don’t let it be a ‘What if!’

Pursue your dream, take time off to clear your head and transcend the boundaries of ‘What will people say?’

Be compassionate and blend it with courage.

Compassion and courage go hand in hand, you may be a compassionate soul but it takes courage to come out and help people in need.

Forget and forgive more people who couldn’t stand by you in your tough times or who vanished once things started looking up for you. Trust me you will meet many such people. Wish them good and move on.

With all of that and a lot more I bid adieu to the most difficult yet rewarding year of my life and I thank everyone who has been a part of it. Looking forward to new destinations and new adventures in 2017. Wish you all a wonderful new year.

 

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