Writing this post is like shooting myself in the foot! There is already a perception among friends and family that I travel too much and here I am laying it all out in the open. "Where are you going next?" was the most asked question of 2009 and pretty much every time I WAS going somewhere. While this post might be an open invitation to taunt me about my hyper-active travel schedule, It might also give me a chance to redeem myself.
2009 was a wonderful year for us. This was our first full year in India after moving back from California in May 2008. If you do something as big as an inter-continental move, you also want to take that opportunity to change a few things in your life. After working non-stop for 10 years, I decided to take it easy. I became an independent consultant which is really a euphemism for jobless. Other than an odd project here and there, I was not getting much work because of the recession. I took full advantage of this and happily settled into a routine of traveling, blogging about it, traveling some more and blogging some more and did I mention "Traveling". I joined groups, became friends with fellow travel bloggers and much to Saru's dismay, started planning trips with them. "You are welcome to join us" I offered graciously to which he replied "Freaks...all of you are freaks" (totally uncalled for!)
I was so happy doing this routine that I said "No" to a perfectly good job offer. "I don't feel like working full-time" I said and then went on to declare " I am going to do whatever makes me happy this year!". Saru didn't flinch because he is used to my grand statements - "This is going to be the Summer of my life" I said one year and went on to work my ass off. The year I declared that "I don't care about money and I am going to spend as much as I want" was the year I saved the most!
Sure enough, a week later I started worrying about my career and took up a half-time job. The other half, I said should be open for consulting work(in other words jobless). To my utter joy and delight, the job required me to travel a good bit! Work trips are usually not fun, but I would make it a point to stay an extra day and see the sights. International cuisine is something I miss in Navi Mumbai (unless you count Mumbai High that serves Indian, Chinese, Thai, Italian AND Mexican all under one roof), So I would research and eat at really good restaurants. After some hesitation, even Saru started enjoying my trips. I would come back home from a trip full of juicy stories and follow him all around the house like a happy puppy talking about it. Soon, he started boasting to his friends "My wife understands what is important in life. She has figured out what makes her happy and is following it. I am proud of her". He would make his friends read my blog, and more importantly pain them to leave comments. Every comment on his photographs would increase his enthusiasm for the hobby. He joined me in as many trips as he could, and the rest, he enjoyed (or was forced to) by hearing about it a zillion times.
So folks, here is a list of all my trips in 2009. Pay attention to the words "work trip" which means that I "HAD" to go and did not have a choice. For all of you that give me grief about it, I will have you know that I did not leave Saru and go to all these trips. I HAD to go for work( Gosh....I just love this excuse....it sounds so legitimate). The two non-work trips I did without him were Corbett and VOF. He could not make it to Corbett because of work and didn't come to the Himalayan hike because....I am quoting his highness here "Hiking is pointless!"
January took me to Singapore for a work trip. Walking around the waterfront area and the Jurong Bird Park were a highlight. I had fantastic Italian and Thai food, not to mention the famous Singaporean Roti-Prata.
I made my first trip to Calcutta for work. Thanks to Shantanu's blog, I found out what and where to eat. Lucknow Biryani and Kababs were delicious and so was the Thai food in Oberoi.
Another work trip, this time to Bangkok. The temples and the grand palace were magnificent. The Royal Thai massage and foot massages were just what the doctor ordered at the end of a long day.
Corbett National Park was just fantastic. My friend Tara says that you know you love a place when you want to go back there again and again. This is one place I would love to visit multiple times.
Saru joined me in Delhi for his first visit to our Capital and was totally impressed. Delhi is my favourite city to visit in India. I feel a rush of emotion seeing India Gate and all other monuments I grew up seeing on TV.
Saru was sick and tired of hearing me talk about safaris after Corbett. He wanted his own safari experience, So we went to Bandipur NP. We traveled with fellow bloggers T&S and had a fantastic trip. A tiger, tigress with 4 cubs, leopard with a cub and 22 wild dogs were the highlight of our trip.
This was our big 10th anniversary month. After debating endlessly and researching locations in every continent, we finally settled on familiar grounds-France and it didn't disappoint! Driving around the country side, stopping at lavender farms, perched villages, sea side was my kind of a slow vacation.
Mangoes and Monsoons are what I love about Indian Summers. Waterfalls and green hills everywhere.
This was my very first multi-day hike to the Valley of Flowers. The Himalayas were absolutely breathtaking! I plan to do another hike this year.
Saru and I went to Maharashtra's Valley of Flowers with Adesh and Mandar. Acres of pink, blue, white and purple flowers sat pretty on the plateau.
We celebrated Diwali in the wild with a birding trip to Dandeli. A spooky and adventurous night walk was the highlight of the trip
A work trip took me to Indonesia. I took a sunrise trip to see Mt.Bromo, an active volcano in the area. Balinese massages and fantastic food were the highlights of an otherwise boring work trip.
December was like a grand finale to the year. I spent most of the month travelling. I went hopping from Delhi to Agra to Fatehpur Sikri to Jaipur to Ranthambore NP to Udaipur. Saru took this surreal picture in Ranthambore. We have a ton of close-ups, but this picture is my favourite of the lot.
Plans for 2010
2010 is shaping up to be a very busy work year. The half time consulting slot which was really an excuse to goof off in 2009 is suddenly getting active with a lot of work. Work hard...party hard will be my mantra in 2010.
January is shaping up to be a busy travel month. I leave for Bangkok next week and then we are going to Pench National Park for the Republic day long weekend. I signed up for Nature India's birding trip to the North East in March. Other than that, my year is wide open. There are talks of visiting the US for work, making a road trip from Manali to Leh and a girls-only trip to Europe. Let's see what pans out.
Where are you going in 2010? Leave a comment or a link to your recent blog post about this.