A year is made up of all the right kind of memories, and the second half of 2018 was also mostly so. Writing down and choosing from the best of memories from a year , is as hard as choosing the best dish from a splendid dinner buffet. Yet, here are the best ones from last six months of an amazing year.
July - Hiking in the Western Ghats
India is blessed with regional diversity , and as the monsoon sets in , the western ghats hill range change into a rain forest with mystic landscapes. Hiking through the dense foggy vegetation , it felt like an alienated land out of some story book. I climbed some historical forts and forgotten temples with my local friends from Mumbai who had an in depth idea of the region. Truly mesmerizing and very different from my known Himalayan landscape and experience , this added up the spice in the middle of the year. Also in order to visit here , I had to come down to Bangalore and Mumbai , and attended some of my close friend's birthday, which are always special and and a lot of beers! Nothing can beat that !
August - Adventures in the middle lands of Spiti
The remote and lesser known lands of Spiti , in the higher Himalayas are a part of Tibetan region. This whole month , I conducted tours and explored all of it slow and nice. Though this was not my first time here , yet I had not spent so much time in this region before. I considered shifting to this place too, as it got my heart, but the lack of connectivity to the outer world meant a greedy man like me could not afford the peace this region brought. Yet the time spent here with out worldly landscapes and solitude to learn about myself, helped me to figure a lot of answers , I had been seeking for. This picture from the crescent moon shaped lake called " Chandrataal " is one of many memories that will be framed in my home.
September - Biggest Tattoo Dare of Life
September means the start of fall, and I did fall for tattoos. Went on a tattoo spree and got myself inked three times with images that connect and reflect most of me. But the most memorable of the one has to be the tattoo inked on my throat. My dear friend and artist , never had done a throat tattoo, and was very skeptical of my wish. You see once you have a tattoo on your throat , its very hard to hide it , and its a commitment far stronger than marriage , he said. I was ready, I knew what I wanted and he got to work. But instead of using machine , we decided to go for hand poked, and the rest of the story is of pain and memories. Thank God , there are intoxication available to soothe the pain and keep you going. Sorry can't name what intoxication helped me out!
I still cant believe , I have a tattoo on my throat and I was daring enough to get it hand poked. But for all the times I question myself , this event sets itself as an example and gives me strength. Hell yeah !!
October - Peace at Home and Dogs
October meant arrival of the winters in the Himalayas, and the arrival of cute puppies all over our place. Happy quiet times , with nothing much to do. You wake up , eat , play with puppies , talk deep shits , drink and smoke , dance and play some music and then go to sleep again. That is mostly of October for me. I have had other experiences too , but its too insignificant to mention or very controversial indeed ! Life after all!
November - Varanasi and spirituality
I never have a knack for religious places, yet thanks to my work as a super guide, I get to visit places that I have totally wrong judgement about. Varanasi is one such. This city totally captured my soul , after being here for a week and more. Photographing this city , I found a lot about faith , love , healing and happiness. The history and heritages of this city has tales to tell that capture your heart and warms it up. I guess this also prepared me for the hardest times of the year that followed in my personal life. I guess 2018 will be left incomplete if it wasn't for the lessons learnt on the road.
December - Sikkim and Eastern Himalayas.
Well honestly speaking, the end of November and December as of now , has been the hardest and trying times of this year in personal emotional front. However , if you keep having faith in life , it sails you through the storm , all you gotta do is know how to enjoy the ride. The eastern Himalayas and Sikkim tour will be memorable for more reasons , I can write or express. However the great food enjoyed with my super clients from Norway or the renowned tea found from this region , made up of a story to be remembered. The calm quiet times in the realms of Sikkim is to be loved by most.
My rest of December is to be spent here in this region, and probably ending the year in Bhutan. And with just few more days to go, I hope to make the last as amazing as was the rest of 2018.
So that was my year of 2018. a mix of everything and a lot of adventure. It really feels good to be grateful of the time gone by and the new year knocking on the door. I hope you too had an year to remember and relish. If its not, no worries , 2019 isn't far , and its never too late to close the ending chapter and begin the new one.
Years spent on the road are always adventurous , and here I am on seventh year as a semi nomadic man with more memories to hold than my heart and mind has space. So in retrospection , here are the first six months of 2018 and the best memories that stick to each of those months!
January - Goa and Fun!
Cometh January as the winter sets in, I hopped down to Goa to get myself prepared for my upcoming trip to South East Asia! And around ten days in Goa with good people , good music , good love and great drinks , this was a sign of a year to begin with! But Goa was also a remedy for the heartbreak received early in the year! But as they say , when life gives you Grief , give yourself Goa!
February - Epic Solo Trip to Thailand!
There are some countries where I have bucket list destination! And Thailand being this year's ultimate one! All I had heard was very less of this country , that I had imagined. Insane , epic parties to start with , mouth watering street food along with some insects and crocodiles to eat , friends made from all over the world and lastly understanding " it is a must and important life lesson, to take a long solo trip, to a totally different country when you are young " got recommended by Steve Jobs!
March - Working and Living the Island life
March started with mixed emotions ! I got robbed in Thailand, leaving me with a month to travel and no money. I had two choices , either get back home asking help from someone , or somehow spend the rest of my time! I realized, money can be earned back , but not the time. The universe always helps a stubborn heart , and here I landed a job in an epic party hostel in Koh Phangan island! If you don't know about this island , Google " Full moon party " !!! One of the most sought after party destination in the world , I had a month that pulled in a whole lifetime of exciting adventures! I was literally living like Di Caprio in the movie " Beach " ! Biking around the sunny white beaches half naked with only shorts on , snorkeling and testing some weirdest drugs and dancing like a maniac in parties , that's what my life in March looked like!
But the best lesson learnt while working in a party hostel , was the confidence that if ever I run out of money , I can still avail to travel around the World !
P.s - Ignore the picture, things done in an island stays in the island!
April - The depression and the overcoming trip to Srilanka
As I got back to India , I fell for the post travel blues. After living two months in different culture , when you get back to a country called home, you are sure to feel depressed, seeing the same world hasn't changed much and it's like waking up on a Monday morning after a dreamy weekend ! I was depressed and cranky , and I felt the travel had evolved me more than my people around me could fathom. It was not their fault that I felt such emotional turmoil , but it was mine to realize that I needed a trip to get over the hangover of my solo trip! So Srilanka it was !
A small island nation surprised me with it's beauty And raw nature! And specially the trains that are still living in the colonial days! I highly recommend Srilanka who is going through a depressing time! Go now!
May - Back to Home , Back to Himalayas
Life seemed to get to routine as I head back to Himalayas. Kasol seemed even more beautiful now that I was away from it for last six months. The trekking season began and I lived some insane moments in the world's highest mountains! Made some amazing friends again, memories made with some people loved under moon lit skies and in tents over vast Meadows with flowers. Himalayas is the healing process for everything and gifts you friends that are going to stay with you forever. After all friends made on mountains are friends forever !
June - Peace of mind at Home !
Throughout the month I stayed home in Kasol meeting amazing wanderers who came by and became friends! Times by Parvati river with some good jamming and closed off parties are best way to energize yourself, during the middle of the year , for the next half! I tried out new cuisines at my hostel thanks to some awesome volunteer chefs who were mad enough to come to show us their magic and talent without even asking for money! And I felt loved from everywhere around with some hookahs and hash and absolutely good south Indian foods ! And of course how can I miss my Birthday Caramel cake with special dope stuff!
Well that's for the first six months. It was full of memories, of parties than ever done in rest of my life and experiences more than I can write and tell you about! But somewhere this made way for the next six months to come by with equally exciting adventures!
So write to me or to the world , what are your favorite memories of the months gone by in 2018?
Note from the Author,
" Travel made me rich and free. Magic and miracles are true , once you wander on the roads to places different and divine. I have collected so many thoughts and stories while being a Tour & Trek guide for last seven years. Sharing with you all, those memories and stories , and wishing you all , that someday you guys travel far and wide too. I am not a great writer , so ignore my grammar and spellings, read it with feelings, and you might just be affected with the wanderlust to hit the road"