Every year, when I sit down to pen my this photo essay of our adventures, I always tend to look back at the year with astonishment – at the amount we travelled, joy – at the people we met and the connections we made, and sadness – because no matter the year, I miss my dad every single day of every single year. (You’ll know this if you’ve been reading Bruised Passports for a while but if not, read our 2013 annual overview for more)
But 2017 was unlike any other year! It was different for both of us. It was the year we matured by leaps and bounds. It was the year when we were most at peace, and this reflected in our work too. We really took this year to take a step back, assess the things that truly matter to us, and spent time indulging those.
- Travel-wise this meant revisiting some of our favourite places time and again replaced the hunger to see only new places all the time.
- Blogging wise, this led to a shift that made us so much more productive. We’ve been blogging for over 5 years but this was the year we spent more time on Bruised Passports than EVER before! We spent hundreds of thousands of hours creating and curating content – articles, photos, videos, write-ups – that we are proud of!
- Social Media wise tens of thousands of readers joined our virtual family. In 2016 both of us were quite disappointed by the proliferation of faux travel-related accounts peddling a lifestyle they didn’t understand or destinations they hadn’t felt for themselves. But in 2017, we chose to look AWAY from it and held a Harry Potter quote quite close to our hearts “It is the quality of one’s convictions that determines success, not the number of followers“. Given our staunch belief in this, we shared the content we created with much love and care on our social media. We also chose to speak about topics closest to our hearts – gender equality, women’s empowerment, and kids’ education. The overwhelming response seems to be a reminder that we are on the right path. We spent every day of the year thanking our stars for the positive, engaged community we have on Bruised Passports. Thank YOU so much 🙂
- Lifestyle wise, it meant gradually amending the way we view life to focus on our own emotional well-being and treasuring the people around us. This has been a gradual shift, and one that makes us so happy. Our view of life looks a bit like this right now:
A story about happiness and beaming smiles today We get a lot of messages each day asking us how we’re perpetually happy. In fact that was the most asked question during our Instagram live recently. Thought we’d answer it today The truth is it’s neither a secret nor a magic pill. It’s a CONSCIOUS lifestyle choice that we’ve chosen to make over the past few years and YOU can too. Some call it The Law of Attraction but it is simply the realisation “you BECOME what you think” Let’s start with the obvious. Despite what social media might portray, nobody’s life is perfect and there are lots of niggles, ranging from mundane to severe, that everyone has to face. But you can choose to tackle them one way or the other. Here’s what we say Try ridding yourself of ALL negative thoughts. Jealousies, grudges, toxic people, and negativity belong in the bin. This isn’t an overnight change but a gradual process. But you will be SO much more creative if you have a happy mind full of positive thoughts. Instead of spewing venom, being envious, or thinking negatively about others, concentrate on working hard to realise YOUR dreams (however hedonistic or crazy!) and spinning fantasies out of each episode of YOUR life. This is YOUR journey – prioritise happiness, prioritise contentment, and prioritise those people in your life who love you as much as you love them. Make a conscious decision to pursue this on getting up every single day. EMPOWER the people around you (be it friends, family, or co-workers) instead of bringing them down. And that is ALL you need for happiness and successes to come your way. Practice this for a month and it’ll SHOW in your smile, we promise
So now that we have that out of the way, join us on the roller coaster ride that was 2017. Let’s go:
We kicked off the year by going to Bali – as a lot of you know places like Bali and Lake Atitlan are remote offices for us. We live the slow life here – spending lots of time huddled over our computers finishing up work, working out at the neighbourhood gym, making friends with locals and learning the local language, and visiting all the healthy eateries in town. But 2017 was different – we had to cut short our trip and spent a lot of money rescheduling flights because I was struck by a series of asthma attacks in Bali and refused to get better despite visiting a doctor and taking heavy medication. I wrote about this in an article titled 5 Travel Annoyances: A Rant
But that is life – such niggles come and go. We took this opportunity to spend the month of February with our friends and family in New Delhi. A lot of you often ask us whether we miss our friends and family on the road – the answer is no, we rarely get homesick. But that is also because our current lifestyle allows us to spend a lot more time with our families compared to when we had busy corporate jobs. In fact, spending more quality time with our families was one of the factors that made us switch to a more laid-back lifestyle.
By March the travel itch kicked in good and proper. We hadn’t been travelling for almost 2 months and that is unacceptable. We kicked off the month with a long-winded roadtrip in Kerala that took us through verdant spice plantations, enthralling backwaters, and countless little villages.
March was also the month for our first ever TEDx Talk. I will never forget our first TEDx Talk – from being questioned about our decision to travel full time to being felicitated for it, it’s been quite the journey. At our talk, we spoke about travelling, professional travel blogging, digital entrepreneurship, and (most importantly) living mindfully 😊 The talk went smoothly but there were so many Bruised Passports readers in the audience that it occasionally became hard to talk over all the cheering. It’s at moments like these that one realises just how precious it is to have a huge virtual family egging you on every step of the way. It’s true what they say – following your heart does take you to crazy places, TED stage included. We smiled from ear to ear while looking at the deluge of photos from you guys after the talk.
April was reserved for a bunch of countries and experiences that had been on our wishlist for a long time. We flew to Hong Kong and explored its culinary landscape at length. The rest of the month was spent experiencing Cherry Blossom Season in South Korea and Japan. We met lots of old friends along the way, made a bunch of new friends, fell in love with Korean food, and couldn’t get enough of landscapes in Japan.
In the month of May we wanted to shed off the woollies, so off we went to the dreamy islands of Seychelles. We had an incredible time exploring its beaches, devouring Seychellois curries, meeting lots of fun people, and spending quality time with each other. Here’s a little overview of our times in Seychelles:
We came back from Seychelles to a surprise. Bruised Passports won the Travel Blog of the Year at the coveted Outlook Traveller awards. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for Bruised Passports.
It was soon time to head to Europe for a bit of work and a bit of fun. Our first stop was Paris, one of our favourite European cities. We took the week to meet some of our friends and relish summer in Paris. After than we headed off to a couple of areas in France that we hadn’t visited yet – Foix and Chamonix. The fortnight in France was spent exploring little villages in the countryside and taking road-trips, the most exciting of which took us to a tiny country called Andorra.
We flew to Slovenia next on an assignment with other influencers from around the world. This lasted all of 4 days but we fell irrevocably in love with Slovenia. Everyone else left soon after but the two of us decided to alter our plans, rent a car, rent a cottage, and explore Slovenia. We spent over 2 weeks driving in the country and exploring its nooks and crannies. This was definitely one of the travel highlights of 2017.
We promised ourselves to explore more of India in 2017 and we hadn’t done too much of that by June. So we spent the next 3 months exploring some parts of the country we’d always wanted to visit. A work assignment took Vid to Leela Palace Udaipur and we spent the week exploring Udaipur and all it had to offer. We booked an impromptu trip to Srinagar with my mom and had the best time plucking apples from Kashmir’s famed orchards, exploring the state, and sampling Wazwan cuisine.
But that’s not all – next we went to Fratelli’s vineyards in Maharashtra. It was our first time at a vineyard hotel in India and we had an amazing time sampling every single wine on offer. This was followed by a long-winded road trip in Coorg. We love the lush green environs and the people of South India, so it’s fun to keep going back for more. Coorg was quite touristy but we loved the drives around the area!
Along the way, we met so many fellow creatives and made new friends. We love meeting fellow influencers, who aren’t scared to express their creativity and question boundaries. We also met so many of you. Everywhere we went – be it Paris, Lake Bled, or Maharashtra – we bumped into hundreds of readers along the way. Thank you to each one of you who came and said hello to us this year – there is nothing we love more than bumping into you guys 🙂
Vid snuck in a quick trip to Sydney to visit his adorable nieces. I didn’t get my visa on time, so I had to bail out of the trip. But the month of October kickstarted with a roadtrip to Sikkim, our first adventure in North East India. And adventure it was! We experienced some incredible sites (glacial lakes, cascading waterfalls – you name it!) and some of the worst roads we’ve ever encountered!
Sikkim’s roads left us completely shaken. And experiencing all these new places left us a bit jaded. We were craving the familiar – roads we know and love. So for our anniversary, we booked a mammoth month long trip to Europe to revisit some of our favourite places and discover some new places along the way. We spent November and December in Faroe Islands, France (where else but Paris!), Switzerland (a little village we loved!), and Iceland (a crazy road trip packed with panoramas and Northern Lights). We took things easy and explored at a slow pace – needless to say, this trip left us completely rejuvenated!
This was also the month we wrote 3 of our most liked and commented upon posts on Instagram. I cannot say this enough – it makes me so happy that our readers engage with real issues – gender equality, the importance of hard work, and prioritising love in life. When we set out to conceive Bruised Passports, we dreamt of bringing together people who don’t just love travelling but believe in living their best life and are endowed with positivity. It makes me so happy to think we’ve succeeded in that. Here are the 3 posts:
We’re celebrating our Anniversary today 😊👫It’s crazy to think we’ve been married for 9 years and been together for 18 whole years – time sure flies!! ✨ ✨ If you’ve been following us for a while, you’d probably know both of us disagree with almost EVERY trope in the Marriage Dictionary (whatever that is!). I don’t get worked up often but joke about enjoying the last days of “freedom” before getting married or nagging partners and you’ll definitely see me fuming. Ask that idiotic question – “who wears the pants in the family?” and I will punch you 🙈😂 I kid! Unfortunately most of us internalise these stereotypes growing up in this crazy lopsided patriarchal universe and end up stencilling them onto our relationships, romantic or otherwise, instead of letting relationships FLOWER and flow organically ☺️😊 ✨ ✨ But I would REALLY encourage you to break these mental shackles and question redundant stereotypes for your happiness (and sanity!). Living with someone need not be nagging wives, macho husbands, gendered duties, or bloated egos – those are societal constructs that need to be binned ☺️ You often ask us WHY WE ARE HAPPY?! Here’s the answer – We don’t like blindly accepting what society tells us and we aren’t scared to think for ourselves! So here’s OUR advice, based on what WE have learnt along the way… 😊😊 ✨ ✨ Prioritise kindness, prioritise respect, and prioritise LOVE in relationships 😊😍Be it at your first try or twentieth, when you find a person you TRULY vibe with, strive to create a space where cohabiting is NOT about power play but bouncing ideas off each other, giving each other space and trusting with closed eyes, taking decisions together, being resolutely independent yet having fun together, being vulnerable together and being INVINCIBLE together, chasing individual dreams & chasing common ones ☺️😊 Showing each other the rainbow at the end of the tunnel. Fulfilling whims that might not make complete sense. Nurturing each others passions. And giving each other WINGS to fly 💕💕 It’s these little things, with a generous smattering of cuddles and kisses along the way, that make relationships work. It’s a walk in the park, if you LET it be 😊
That time I got my PhD degree at 28 and a v.personal story you might not know- just to put things in perspective ☺️ ✨ ✨ Every day we get a LOT of questions about how we finance our travels ourselves. Since we’ve answered this at length on our website multiple times (yep no rich parents or magic pills here!),I thought I’d share another story just to tell you NOTHING is impossible with the right amount of hard work & patience! ✨✨ Growing up my dad (a doctor) and my mom (teacher turned homemaker) spent all their earnings to provide the best possible education and standard of living to my brother and me. So when I left high school and entered university, I was determined to finance my own education so they could finally spend their salaries on themselves 😊 ✨✨ I was passionate about English Literature and knew I wanted to pursue a PhD from one of the world’s best universities. I worked towards this in 3 ways ✨ ✨ 1) I tried to score the highest possible grades while pursuing my Bachelors and Masters degrees. Some years I succeeded in topping my university, some years I’d miss it by a mark or two.But I knew I’d worked as hard as I could! 2) After completing my Masters degree, I started teaching at the University of Delhi to gain work experience. 3) I spent ALL my savings and salaries applying to as many universities as I could, spent months honing my SOPs and applications and emailing professors at various universities in US and UK. ✨ ✨ Eventually I got my dream scholarship at University of Leeds, one of my top choices. The scholarship was generous and I supplemented it with odd academic jobs such as teaching English to Chinese students at my university and invigilating. But there was just one CATCH. ✨ ✨ Writing a thesis takes anywhere b/w 5-6 years but my scholarship was only for 4 years. Cue LONG days and endless work for years but I ended up finishing my PhD thesis in 3.5 years. So this day 👆 was quite a milestone for me✨ ✨ Sharing this in the hope that it will inspire some of YOU to reach for your dreams. Academia, blogging, or life you just need to work tirelessly and prioritise your passion & give it everything😊NOTHING is impossible if you set your mind to it
We can’t thank you enough for the AMAZING comments you left on our personal post yesterday. Here’s Vid’s story. We hope sharing these snippets of our life will encourage you to reach for your dreams & live your BEST life 😊 ✨ Savi focussed on hard work & I want to focus on another, equally important, thing in life – knowing your priorities & following them with a vengeance! I come from a professional family. My mum’s a teacher & Dad an engineer. After I graduated high school, I got into the much coveted IIT, one of the finest institutions in the world. But I wanted to go experience a cosmopolitan environment, so I chose Singapore to pursue my undergraduate degree. ✨ ✨ I wanted to finance my own education & made this possible using a generous scholarship and a part-time job while studying. I had the BEST time at university in Singapore and made so many amazing friends from all over the world ✨ I worked in Singapore for 3 years & climbed the corporate ladder. But once Savi moved to UK for her PhD, I just quit my job & moved to UK too! ✨ For me, this was a NO BRAINER – my job as an IT consultant was always just a job for me while English literature is Savi’s passion! But to people this was strange because I quit my well-paying job to join her – it’s usually the other way round! Seriously who makes these rules? Think BEYOND gendered stereotypes and follow your priorities (always love and happiness for me). And you guys know exactly where, or should I say with WHO, I find those 😊 ✨ Moving to UK turned out to be the best decision EVER – I took a 6 month sabbatical, used my savings to travel in Europe, found a job in London, worked for 6 years before leaving it to travel full time. Almost 10 years of my savings went into a travel fund and transitioning my hobby (photography) to my profession. ✨ I’m hoping this story will encourage you to set your priorities in life (love, money, experiences, travel – prioritise whatever floats YOUR boat. There are no rights and wrongs!) and follow them come what may. Question convention, question patriarchy, & question rules set by society. Never take no for an answer & that’s how you’ll be able to live out your craziest dreams!😍
You know you love exploring the world when you travel for leisure, travel for work, and travel for holidays with your family. After a relatively laid-back break in Europe, it was time for back-to-back assignments in the month of December. First up : a road-trip in the Middle Eastern country of Oman. Oman surprised us in so many ways – we had not expected the abundance of natural beauty we witnessed in Oman. We drove through deserts, slept amidst dunes, swam in glittering turquoise pools in the middle of wadis (valleys), met the friendliest people, lingered over tea and dates, and enjoyed brunches in the mountains.
While everyone was busy wrapping up the year, we went straight from Oman to the beaches of Goa and the hustle bustle of Mumbai for photography assignments. Our days were packed from sunrise to sunset but we managed to take some time to explore the crumbling chapels of Old Goa, the colourful Latin Quarter of Fontainhas, and the Portugese architecture at every corner. As the year drew to a close, it was time to wind down surrounded by the ones we love the most – we spent quality time with our families over Christmas and New Year as we prepared for the year ahead.
So those were the travels of 2017 for us – 15 countries, countless adventures. We don’t know what 2018 holds but we will strive to make it a year where we celebrate our individuality, work hard to reach for our dreams, and love like there’s no tomorrow ❣️❣️ And you? What were your highlights of 2017? Tell us in the comments below 🙂