Okay, 2017! Where did you go?
I can’t believe I’m writing this post already, the last post of the year! It seems like just yesterday when I wrote my round up of 2016. A whole 12 months has flown past since then, and a lot of change has happened, too!
After bringing in the New Year 2016 and my birthday in Goa last year, I headed back to Mumbai and picked up from where I left off – drowning in work, on marketing and advertising campaigns with around a dozen of the country’s best brands as a part of a leading ad agency in India.
Before long, February rolled around and passed uneventfully, for a change. At home, I continued blogging about the new restaurants I tried and about a couple of experiences here and there. Just as I began finding myself in a rut, BAM! I started getting opportunity after opportunity to collaborate with more brands. The difference was that I wasn’t being asked to create marketing material for them anymore, but to feature them right here on That Goan Girl!
What!! The goal I’d been working to achieve for the last 3 years with a lukewarm results was coming true all at once! The fact that I had to decline most of them because of work commitments was frustrating and that’s when I took the leap to quit in March. Would the collabs keep rolling in the way they were now? Was this spur-of-the-moment decision a mistake, especially since I’m living on my own and have to support myself? Turns out, I shouldn’t have worried so much!
In April, I headed off to Delhi for the launch of Tata Tigor and stayed an extra day to wander around. I saw the Safdarjung Tomb, Agrasen ki Baoli and as usual, visited some delicious Delhi restaurants! On returning, I set out on the next adventure and explored Aayush Resort in Panvel with some close friends.
In the terribly hot month of May, just as I was winding up my professional work commitments, I moved homes. I left the tiny apartment in the city that I hated so much and moved to a bigger, brighter one on the outskirts for less than half the rent (since I didn’t have a job and had big plans to travel, this made a lot of sense.)
Finally, the rains arrived in June, and this was when things really started rolling! My freelance marketing gig turned into a full-fledged company – Digitally Scrambled – with my partner, Sandeep. We worked to on-board new clients, the first of which was Dubl’up, a Goa-based company! Yay!
This was the time when I also experienced one of the best sights I have ever seen – a million fireflies in Bhandardara! Although it was to be a one-night stay, I stayed another night just to experience it again! Bhandardara was beautiful and I couldn’t stop writing about it either!! It rained almost the entire time and on the way back to Mumbai, I made my second pit-stop at Alibaug, at a property that I think I’ll always consider a favourite – Casa De La Luna. It was around this time that I dabbled in a bit of PR too!
On returning, I caught up with work and onboarded a couple of new clients. Without any planning at all, I headed off to Matheran in July and then Goa in August which was my first Mumbai-Goa road trip. I was starting to develop the kind of lifestyle I wanted, and beginning to love it. Working on my laptop while on the train, in airport waiting rooms, stopping at cafes on the side of the street, and in my PJs in bed, while having the luxury to pack up and travel without having to ask for holidays or adjust to that of others in a formal workplace. Perfect!
It did come with a couple of hitches, as is the case with travel, but I’d prefer a nomadic life like this over anything else.
On the way back to Mumbai from Goa during late August, I explored a tiny bit of Ratnagiri and then for a month or so, I visited a bunch of new restaurants in Mumbai. By this time, I was getting used to the remark “so, you seem to be travelling a lot these days, huh?” Such a good feeling!!
Almost through to the last quarter of the year – wow! While I hadn’t explored a single hill station in my life, in September, I explored the 2nd one in one year! Mahabaleshwar was stunning and the resort I stayed at, Brightland, was a great, luxurious escape from the heat in Mumbai! On the way back to Mumbai, I made another stop in Ratnagiri, this time reviewing the Fern Samali in Dapoli!
November took me back to Delhi where I participated in the World Fair Trade Week, organized by the World Fair Trade Conference and Fair Trade Forum India. This all-expense paid trip at the Crowne Plaza opened my eyes to the fascinating world of Fair Trade and I learnt so much during my time there. This trip reaffirmed my belief that there’s a world of learning, experiences and opportunities out there, which I’d have otherwise missed by sitting in a cubicle all day.
And then, of course, another trip back to Goa in November to catch up with all the restaurants I’d been invited to review! By now, I’d collaborated with some great brands – Nubia, 7UP, SkyScanner, Diageo,Woodland, Zivame, and a ton of restaurants!
Finally, I headed off to Canada in the first week of December to experience my first White Christmas with friends and family living in Toronto. I’m still here, and while my fingers are numb from the cold, I have so many warm, snowy memories already – and there’s still another 15 days to go! Oh, and the cherry on the cake is that That Goan Girl took home an award yesterday at the Indian Blogger Awards! Yep, we’re officially the best blog in Goa now!
It brings me so much joy, excitement, and a little bit of nervousness when I look back and realize that the goal of becoming someone who works on the move and travels for a living on my terms is slowly shaping up. In fact, I have the first 2-3 months of 2018 planned out in terms of travel too.
Is there a downside? There always is! The lack of stability, loneliness, the nagging voice in my brain that tells me to sit up and work at 1AM when I’d rather be out partying with friends. I have learnt that there is a lot of pressure to get the best photos, write well and make sure you experience as much as possible while staying genuine and true to what you’d usually do and enjoy. Unlike in Canada, the competition in India is FIERCE, with every second individual trying their ‘luck’ in the blogosphere. I’ve learnt to stop bothering about followers, likes, etc, and go back to why I started blogging in the first place – to document my experiences for me!
It’s been a pleasure meeting and interacting with so many of you this year. Cheers to 2018 and I hope you stay on for the ride.
Happy New Year!