I tried a lot to keep myself awake, but the amount of walking done on the last day of 2016 in the temples of Angkor had taken a toll on me. I passed out of fatigue even before the celebratory countdown of the last ten seconds of the year took place in the hotel we were staying in, in Siem Reap. It was my first New Years Eve celebration outside Pune, and I should’ve known that it was one huge signal to the crazy amount of travel that ensued in the following year. I eventually woke up at 2:30 in the night, and the moment to wish my friends back home at the stroke of midnight hour had passed. I sent the obligatory texts wishing others for the New Year, and slept back again.
College started a week later. It was the final semester before I graduated. 2017 was already looking big. January and February passed, and I made a couple of trips back home, to Pune, but the real deal was the month of March. Production of our films had started, and this was the time I went to Jaipur for the first time in my life. Although I couldn’t explore the city much due to our hectic production schedules, I did see a little bit of the city. Surprisingly, I can still remember the road from Nirman Nagar to Vaishali Nagar!
The month of May dawned and college ended. A lot of partying, breaking my nose by falling on the footpath on a rainy day and having blisters on my tongue and palms due to the spicy chicken wings challenge in Plan B ensued as I bid adieu to the city I called ‘Home’ for four years. Bangalore gave me a lot of happy memories, and taught me a lot, and also gave me a little taste of absolute freedom, something I would miss later when I returned home. As Passengers puts it succinctly, Only know you love her when you let her go, her being Bangalore here, of course! Dhanyavadagalu, Bengaluru!
I returned home for a couple of days, before we, my family and I, found ourselves checking in for a late evening flight bound to Nairobi, Kenya. It was a last moment decision to travel to Kenya with Foliage Outdoors. I’m glad that it went through because my interest in wildlife and natural history photography got rekindled. I made a movie about it later and I was humbled by the feedback. A ten day sojourn in the various habitats of East Africa showed us all the members of the big five, and a lot many avian species. My favourite moment? Filming a lion which was barely 8–10 feet away. His eyes met mine. I didn’t pee my pants though!
What followed Kenya was a trip which has been the closest to my heart. Three friends of mine, Mayuresh, Chinmay and Pranav, and yours truly, decided to go on a shoestring-budget backpacking trip to Spiti. We were amazed at ourselves at the end of the trip, having kept to our target of spending just $235 or 15,000 INR for 18 days. That trip certainly brought us closer. We had ambitious plans of making a proper scripted narrative film named ‘Desert Tastes Best Cold’ alluding to the fact that Spiti is…Nevermind. I should stop explaining puns. Mayuresh made a film from whatever footage was there, and it can be watched here.
We suck as posers, not photographers. The mistakes were quickly rectified, and we got what we wanted.
I flew back to Bangalore to attend my graduation. I finally became a Bakra. Oops..I mean..B.CrA. Creative Arts, with a major in Film. What proceeded in the next couple of months was regret. Regret of not taking up jobs.
The dark cloud loomed over my head for a long time, until one day, I got a reply from a NGO in Thailand I was in contact with. I had discovered Openmind Projects through a simple Google search, and had conveyed my interest in working for them. Eventually, I did barter my skills as a filmmaker for room and board. The sun had just started to come out, and the dark cloud had vanished, as I checked in for my flight to Bangkok. I was in Thailand for exactly a month, volunteering with Openmind Projects for 25 days, and spending the rest exploring the temple ruins of Ayutthaya and going on a shopping spree in Bangkok. This was definitely the most rewarding trip of my life. Not just professionally, but personally as well. It gave rise to #HaanSolo, a project that will be up soon.
As I was writing this post and going through my images, it brought me back memories, like that time we were astounded when we saw the milky way with our bare naked eyes at Kalpa in the Himalayas. I came closer to a lot of people and got distanced to many, unfortunately. A hell lot of travel happened in 2017, therby fulfilling my desire to wander, popularly known as #wanderlust. I wish that the saved places on my Google Maps become visas on my passport. To 2018!