“We’re so sorry; we exhausted you a lot, that too on your birthday! But what do we do? We love you so much!” I said, shaking Mr Ruskin Bond’s hands with water brimming in my eyes.
“That’s what keeps me going,” replied the author with utmost sincerity, as he signed my copy of “A Book Of Simple Living”.
The date was May 19, 2018, his birthday when this travel blogger decided to make an impromptu trip to Mussoorie.
Mr Bond had largely been the reason that I started writing, and mutual love for the mountains further pushed me to start my travel blog Itchy Hands And A Travel Bag.
Living my passion is important to me, though it wasn’t quite like this in the beginning.
Being a sincere, academically bright student, who was slightly vulnerable, and low on self-esteem, I enrolled for the Company Secretary programme, and at age 22 landed a job as a Compliance Officer with a Delhi-based conglomerate. I was successful, financially independent, but I was missing something.
Five years into my corporate job, I was asking myself, “Is this my passion? Who is the real me?”
In my corporate job, I felt like a robot, and to vent out my conflicting thoughts and emotions, I wrote and felt better. Writing as a hobby was my best-kept secret, but before it was too late, I quit my job.
I realised that writing was that missing spark. I took it up with renewed zeal and felt liberated, but I also wondered – could it be a mainstream career choice? I dabbled with content writing, wrote for travel blogs and did other projects, like writing product descriptions for fashion apparel, home décor, and art brands.
Though I felt positive, it was also a struggle.
My experience with a fraudulent client, payment defaults, and rejection, slowed me down. I wondered – should I go back to my uninteresting job? I had tasted happiness and contentment through writing as a profession. Would I enjoy doing anything apart from writing?
Eventually, following my heart, I started writing my own travel blog. I put my heart and soul into scanning numerable YouTube videos and articles on Google, and based on my assembled virtual knowledge, I built and designed my own website. Through this exercise, I learned a remarkable lesson.
“So easily we give in to preconceived notions. We simply think it’s not meant for us and refrain from trying. That’s when a creative soul dies.”
Now with a ready website and blog, I needed visibility to connect with an audience.
Through social media, I stumbled upon SHEROES and downloaded the SHEROES app available on smartphones. I started posting on a mix of topics ranging from women empowerment, my observations in life, poetry, life quotes, and travel. I loved the judgement-free platform where women and girls freely expressed their interests and views across communities like Aspiring Writers, Poetry, Travel and Health. Interactions and real-time mentorship added to my enrichment.
Meeting new people, knowing their stories, lives, cultures and cuisine, awakens my senses thoroughly, and I am also able to share my own blogs, adventures and travel nuggets with the community.
I am especially drawn towards the wandering lives and journeys of solo women travellers. When renowned travel bloggers Shivya Nath, Amrita Das and Charukesi shared their solo travelogues, I was taken by their energy levels. Apprehensions, challenges, safety issues and other hardships haven’t stopped them, and how they broke preconceived notions, is amazing!
The SHEROES travel community also does a great job in fueling energy into solo women travellers. I’m also delighted to learn about women-friendly travel destinations in India and abroad, and about women entrepreneurs who are building unique travel startups.
As more and more women travel solo, it’s high time the Indian Government focused on issues like safety, with the same intensity with which they promote ‘Incredible India’ to bring foreign tourists. How about a separate domestic tourist helpline for women similar to the one existing for foreign tourists?
India has so many solo women travellers, and I take inspiration from such women of wanderlust because they are breaking societal norms to live their dreams.
Let’s never stop exploring places, and ourselves. Let’s not hold back because we aren’t meant to travel. We have the willpower and the strength to do it. So, more power to us and our growing tribe!
About Nidhi Thawal:
A writer at heart, a poet by soul and a travel enthusiast, I’m a travel blogger and an active SHEROES community member. My undying spirit to explore myself keeps me going.