Every day, at around 5:00 AM, I’d be rushing down the flight of steps to board the Churchgate local transiting through Vasai Road (a small town in the outskirts of Mumbai) to kick-start my day as a University student. In about 90 minutes I’d be at the Churchgate station at an hour of the day where Bombay still seemed to be dressed in the freshness of a golden morn. Treasuring the silence, I’d be happily strolling down the heritage lanes of South Bombay, or stop by the bay and relish the beauty of the morning calm. With the rise of the Sun, my hours would soon be devoted to attending Sociology lectures followed by French lessons until late afternoons. Towards the start of a pleasant evening, I’d slip into the shanty slums of Dharavi and transition my role from a student to a part-time English and French teacher at a non-profit. This was what had got me productive during the weekdays. The weekends, however, were quite rigorously meant for short day trips and a volunteer project that identified me as an online English tutor for the orphans of rural West Bengal. Occasionally I’d also be gladly working part-time as a city guide, showing around hidden nooks of Bombay to guests from Sri Lanka, Turkey, West Indies, Canada, Australia, just to name a few!
Right from my hours spent studying culture, norms, and society to exploring the diverse vividity of this globe as a Sociology and a French student, I’ve always loved the idea of materializing my learnings; in an environment that would allow me to share my skills and take it to the ones in need. Certainly, that was what led me to start working in Dharavi and eventually handed me a fellowship in rural Rajasthan. Simultaneously, my love for traveling to foreign lands and connecting with people from across the globe also motivated me to come up with my travel blog – ‘Steps and Streets‘ to share my travel stories.
My work in Rajasthan was that of an English teacher at a rural school which parallelly also allowed me to travel and write stories during school vacations and long holidays. However, a few months down the line, a prolonged illness dropped me at the crossroads of quitting the fellowship and looking for another job in the development sector or diving into a less-promising career option of being a full-time travel writer. I chose the second one. The one that I’ve always had connected with.
Since then, my travel-writing career has taken me to the remote villages of the Uttarakhand Himalayas, to lesser-known heritage nooks in Rajasthan, and several other parts of West Bengal, Gujarat, and Maharashtra.
But none of this was a bed of roses. There still are days where I think of opting for a full-time job. But every time I think such, I’m turned down by a virtual loop of all the adventures I’ve had on the road ever since I got into travel blogging. Despite the pain and the instability of financially sustaining my life as a digital nomad, I’d never trade this life of pure bliss and pure struggle for anything that is less exciting than the one that I’m in.
Ever since I was 17 till today that I’m 21, I’ve never thought of rewinding or living my life differently! As a less-experienced teenager to an ever-evolving adult, I’ve always chosen what rang with my passion.
By the verandah, as I sip my coffee overlooking the fresh paddy fields of Bengal, once again, I ask myself, ‘how do I manage to stick to the drama of having a life with all sort of uncertainties?’, my gut simply murmurs, ‘That’s the spark of doing what you love!’
(YIC Mumbai 2017)