How my Life has Changed for Good!

Friday, February 05, 2010

Let’s give travel some rest. Let’s talk! Let’s talk about me.. let’s talk about you. It’s been a hectic week and it all has come to rest today. As I write, “Steal my Sunshine” by Len is playing in the background and I am happy staring at the personalized tabletop calendar that I ordered from with photographs from my travels. Crazy as it may sound, that, exactly that calendar has been my biggest source of motivation of late. It has some of the best photos from few of my best escapades and each time I look at it, it is pure bliss! One because I feel so proud of myself that I was able to take such an awesome photo and second  because it is all green, blue, misty, colorful and beautiful in the photos. 


I was always a travel buff I guess, it runs in the family. Apparently, my first official trek was done when I was just as little as 3 years old. I know! Well technically I did not trek, but my uncle was trekking carrying me on his shoulders to Penchalakona waterfalls somewhere in the forests near Nellore, Andhra Pradesh. Although I do not remember the experience, my uncle still proudly claims it all started with him. Well I am definitely very thankful to him! And it so happened that the family that I was born into also had a penchant for travel. As my sister and I grew up, we as a family ended taking up numerous trips over the best summers of childhood. Then we shifted base to Tirupati where I grew up watching amazing ladies, in their sarees with children like us to take care of, with those fancy sandals, they trekked through the jungles, crossed the streams and climbed rocks during our family adventure outings  along with more families from my parents’ workplace. 

By mid-teens I felt the strange yet strong nature connection. I used to love those rainy days spent in university quarters sitting in the balcony and doing just as little as listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops in our garden. But education took over and the connection was lost for a good two years before I entered the breathtaking campus of IIT Madras – connection regained. 

After graduating, I was placed in Hyderabad and life went back to boring. Hyderabad was happening in every other aspect other than travel. Friends were good, movies were fun, parties were great, work was nice but I was missing something.  Then Ladakh trip happened and I knew what I was missing. I was missing the nature connection.

A year later I shifted to Bangalore and there has been no turning back ever since! Little did I know that my life would change drastically. The initial months were plain and in August 2008 I went on my first trek here in Bangalore. Then Kumara Parvatha happened. Instantly I knew, this was the single most thing I’d enjoy doing all my life. Slowly, the wealth that was the Western Ghats became known to me. This is where all you travel bloggers helped me. Each trek was a revelation. I enjoyed the exclusive show that nature put up for us trekkers alone. I was completely overwhelmed by the Western Ghats, the forests, the mountains, the cascades, the streams, the monsoons, the grasslands, and even the leeches did not fail to amuse me and what started as a mere pastime took over everything else. I started meeting new people, like-minded people, made some good friends and the exploration continues till date! 

On the family front, after my schooling was done and I shifted to hostel, travel was literally non-existent. But after Ladakh, the lost spirit was rekindled and they were back in form. We have been to Kerala and Chhattisgarh after that and the exploration continues till date!

It is a great pleasure to be able to share this joy with friends and family as well! All said and done, you might be wondering what changed in my life. Well yeah, that’s where I am headed.

A significant portion of my income prior to this travel frenzy was going into exploring numerous restaurants and shopping malls in the city. But I’ve given up my ways now. Make no mistake, I am still a hardcore foodie and a voracious shopper but just the definitions have changed. I have given up restaurant-hopping in favor of delicious homemade food. I gave up shopping for pink stilettos in favor of grey gore-tex fabric vibram soled trekking shoes, white flowing skirts in favor of white Quechua rain-jacket, colorful embroidered saris in favor of a red rain poncho and brown handbag in favor of a 30L white & blue backpack. 

It is not difficult to figure out that interest in photography follows invariably and inevitably after interest in travel. Soon my perception changed significantly opening up a new world of limitless magnificence. I found elegance in everything. I started comfortably ignoring the ugliness around and concentrated only on the good things. 

They say happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true. I have dreamt my dream and I am willing to pay the price as well. I am not one to dream of setting foot in Paris or Rome. I dream of setting foot in the Arctic. And that's how I can say Life has changed for Good! 

Now let’s talk about you! What makes you do what you do? How has travel or photography or anything else changed your life for good?  

Come along with me, on a virtual journey! Find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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  1. I don't travel or trek but I'm one among the millions of digital camera users who are flooding the world with images. It has allowed me to see the world a little more closely. Things that I haven't been able to see before I had a gadget in my hand.

  2. Let's do the Mt. Everest sometime. Start saving money for that.

  3. Your writings flow beautifully....

    I have had very similar upbringing, started trekking at 4 with dad, though i was on my own feet :-)

    My thought process is fairly explore as much of our planet as is deemed possible in a lifetime...

    And, close to all of my travels have been on a shoestring except for the initial investments of a good backpack, pair of boots, pair of sunglasses and a good LED headlamp...

    My list of places to go...keep changing as I grow older, but the yearn to explore still resonates at the same frequency...

    leave for lakshadweep and andamans for some diving this sunday for 3 weeks...will write about it on my blog...

    Continue is my pleasure to read...

  4. Pretty good one, I liked your writing and the best part was about you investing your money at the right place and the right place is you heart and obviously in your heart is travelling and photography!! Great work!

    Master's piece a masterpiece!!

  5. You are one main reason I wish to shift back to India. I feel I haven't known my country well enough. Way to go!! :)

  6. Isn't funny how we slowly become the person we are without realizing it. One minute you are traveling here and another minute, you are traveling there and before you know it, you are traveling all the time.
    I like the way you put it - "ready to pay the price to make dreams come true". I know my hobbies are expensive, but I have my priorities straight. I don't spend money on expensive jewelery or fancy cars, I spend it to travel the world!!
    On a philosophical note, I think when you do something that makes you happy, it spills over the rest of your life too. I have made a lot of friends and have a lot of fun traveling and blogging.
    Keep on trekking and writing!!

  7. Oh...BTW - **pink stilettos**?????? Did not ever once think you were a 'pink shoe' kind of person...not that there is anything wrong with it:):):)

  8. even I went on a trekking as early as a 10 year old kid...ironically we all were of the same age group and one of the guys made it a crazy experience...looks I need to post it in my blog ...


  9. Nice, and glad to see travel shaping up your life.

    Not getting into details of why I do what I do, long term travel also changed the way we travel. I have personally moved from the ways of going from place to place to spend more time everywhere and absorb from the place we visit. It is a feeling that makes you feel having arrived somewhere than having seen something. A very fulfilling feeling.

  10. Hi Neelima, It was a pleasure reading your blog.
    Unfortunately I am a v lazy person to do the trekking part but apart from that i do love traveling, more like riding. Traveling is an experience not every one can enjoy and admire and I am really happy that now you are moving towards photography. Some of the snaps you clicked are truly magnificent. Great way to climb and aim for the Everest, I meant literally.

  11. @ Mumbai Paused - That's exactly what i am talking about! Everyone should take up photography. Things look much better through the lens and we take notice of the finer things as well.

    @ Amrit - Everest.. yea.. was thinking of doing Base Camp sometime next year but i realized it is way too commercialized for my liking! :( Would definitely try Everest sometime though.. :D
    And i am planning to do another trek in Himalayas this May... Let me know if you are interested.

    @ Sankara - I like your thought process.. that's what even i have been trying to do much to the chagrin of my parents.. :D
    Wow! Lakshadweep huh? Now i am super jealous.. have been waiting to go there for a long time now.. Guess i need to drag someone to those islands soon.. Can't wait to read your posts!
    And thanks for reading my posts.. :)

  12. @ Karthik - Thanks.. :) Once the final goal is set, everything else just falls into place i guess.. I am yet to invest in that DSLR.. this will be the year i am guessing. But yea.. i am happy with my choices and dreams.. :)

    @ Kola - Kolaaa! Nice to see you here! :)
    That's one of the best things i've heard about my blog.. Thank you.. Am glad my explorations inspire you at some level to return back...

    @ Vamsee - I know! the journey from someone wearing pink stilettos to a person carrying a 60L backpack has been amazing and i never realized how much i changed! This post was actually a result of some retrospection when i was looking at some college photos.. My priorities have likings have changed.. Its true when they say nothing is permanent except change. Three years from now, I am looking forward to see how much i have changed from today! :D

    And regarding pink stillettos ..yes.. a testimony to the drastic change i am referring to.. ;)

  13. @ Ashish - Welcome to my blog! :)
    I am assuming there was atleast one in your trekking team who was above 10 years! It's nice to think about incidents that one feels might have shaped them to what they are today. Or just remembering old incidents is also great fun. Do jot down your experience.. would love to read..

    @ Arun - Longterm travel is one thing that has caught my fancy of late. I agree that after a while, travel becomes expereincing the place than just viewing different things in different places. I am yet to go on such an exploratory trip but hoping do that soon. :)

    @ Sudheesh - Welcome..Welcome.. :)
    It has been my pleasure writing for you guys as well.. I see that you are a lot into biking.. to each his own.. :) Keep traveling and keep having fun...

  14. This is a great read. Very inspiring.
    By the way, since you are a travel and photography buff, you might be interested in the photography contest, for nature photographers, currently running on the "Lavasa Community" fan page of Facebook. Best photographers get a chance to do a free trip to Lavasa (India's first planned hill city, near Pune) and there are amazing photography opportunities at Lavasa!

  15. Isn't it amazing to think what we have transpired into? Travel does wonders to us. Over the period of time, I have become more interested in smaller things of a place which as a tourist people miss out.

    The story will inspire many more. And your photographs are awesome too.

  16. Thanks for sparing us from mundane .
    True ,the pleasure from what one really loves to do can never be compensated with materialistic goodies or even with worldly success.
    One has seen you graduating from pink stilettos to blue back packs.

    This post reminds me , how blissful I am when I create poetic verses .

  17. @ Homeindia - Thanks for the comment! Will check out the facebook page..

    @ Nisha - I guess even travelers evolve over a period of time..from visitors to observers.. The journey has been great so far! :)
    And thank you for the lovely words!

    @ Shilpa - Thanks for the comment and also testing my blog.. :D
    You are one of the very few who has witnessed me change from the shopaholic that i was to the travel freak that i am today! ;)

  18. Hello there!
    Absolutely love reading your blog and seeing the photos.
    I started traveling at a very young age as well. My most memorable trip was when I was 13, my parents took my two older sisters and myself on an adventure through Europe. It was never fancy hotels or nice restaraunts. It was all about youth hostels, heavy backpacks with stinky clothes until we could handwash them and especially the market food. It was a fabulous lesson for me. It was the lesson of knowledge, that no matter what you learn in the classroom, that will never compare to the lessons one will learn while traveling.
    I now have children of my own and make it a point to travel with them so they see the world... really SEE it instead of just reading about it.
    Great blog by the way!
    Happy Traveling!!

  19. so nice to know about you :D
    i am a traveler and it just gives the excitement for me to see new things, culture, way of life blah blah

  20. @ Summer - Really glad to know that you like my posts! :)
    That surely must have been a great experience.. traveling through Europe as young as 13 years! I love that backpacking sort of travel although haven't been able to go on one such trip yet. And i am not too sure why we even attend classroom sessions! :) Lessons of life are never learnt in those closed walls. It is really great to know that you are taking your kids around the world too.
    And Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

    @ Joshi Daniel - A man of few words..are we?! ;)
    But your photos convey all the things i love about traveling.. Keep showing us those awesome perspectives..

  21. Wow, really nice and different post. Nice to know a little bit more about the person who is writing those wonderful trek logs. And a fellow IITian no less :-) And a girl at that! Talk about a deadly combo, just kidding!

    Guess traveling has been imbibed in me too for a long time. Photography is an acquired passion. I bought my first camera with my 2nd salary and have loved it since then. Somewhere in the middle, I also upgraded to an SLR. I'm not a big fan of treks, but more of a bike person or petrol head. It's always been my dream to ride the Ladakh circuit, don't know when that is going to be fulfilled.

    Before I end, I must say that your blog is really inspiring. Kind of makes me want to go trekking every weekend. And you should definitely gun for Everest. Sometime.

  22. @ Sid - "Talk about a deadly combo" - right! My dad is having the hardest time digesting the fact that his daughter is doing all this deadly crazy stuff... :P

    And I would've loved biking too if i ever got to ride an enfield I guess! I hope you get to do your Ladakh circuit soon.. Ladakh is one of the awesomest things that ever happened to India.
    And thanks for lovely comment.. it's really good to know that my blog is inspiring! :)

  23. Loved the post, definitely a good read. I wish the same for me, I hope the beautiful and the unexplored change my life for good too. will be devotedly following your blog now. :)

  24. @ Pragya - Nice to find you here!
    Thanks.. I wish the same for you as well.. I am sure you'll have an awesome time exploring! And am glad to have found one more reader.. :)

  25. I guess i am the only lazy person who doesn't find any interest in this travelling,trekking and photography business :P
    However you forgot one more aspect of this new life.. blogging and constant obsession about the same! :D

  26. Well..
    it was such a Live feeling attached with ur blog..
    and i also really like they way to asked to people " Now let’s talk about you! What makes you do what you do? How has travel or photography or anything else changed your life for good?" instead of asking only about ur blogs..

    About me,
    M Passionate photographer..

    What i believe, “Photography for me is not looking. its feeling. If i cant feel what I’m Looking at..Then i never going to get others to feel anything.

    I always want to make some destinations, moments and magical thoughts captured forever, which no one can ever change. For me Photography is not only about capturing beautiful images, its a whole life story, my soul, and objects which i see, which you'll feel in my photographs and are going to be immortal. It’s about imagining in one's own way. Beauty lies in everything and that's what i search for when i observe anything. It describes the way I think about everything i see. It describes my life. I’m lost wanderer's soul; I love to be in such places where one has never imagined. I’m kid who would love to have morning tea in Snowy Mountain & night’s dinner by a bonfire under moonlight in forest. My website provides you glimpses of my imaginations in and of this beautiful world around us, from my eyes.

    here is some of my best moments i've captured
    in my Cam which i love to share with u..

    hope i get ur valuable feedback for my work and even for website coz its self designed..

    Amar patel.

    Location: Surat, Gujarat, India

  27. Wow !! After long time, got to reach such a lively and motivational blog. Superbly loved it. :)

  28. Just one question..How do you find time for all these ?

    1. Like this - :)

  29. Hi Neelima, I had a quick browse through your spirited blog. It's nice to see your interest and passion for exploration.

    I've had a similar drive for some years now, and what was interesting was to see you touch upon many of the places I have been too, from when I was trekking through the Himalayas, to the far reaches of North Sikkim, finding trails through Chattisgarh or living in the Andamans for a summer.

    Incidentally, I too studied at IITM (a friend sent me the link), and now continue to find my trails where I can.

    Goes without saying, I'm a photographer too. You will find my albums at

    For India, scroll down a bit to see the 30,000 km journeys here

    Have been thinking about getting a website together to share stories and photos, however my current explorations keep me too busy for such indulgences. I'm happy to see yours.

    Good luck, and keep stomping the trails

    1. Hey Arjun, I have actually known quite few people who have been to Chhattisgarh, good to know you've been there! Ever since my first visit to Himalayas, I've been obsessed with those mountains. I keep going back at every chance I get.

      I checked that map of yours, it looks pretty awesome with the drawings of planes and ships! :) I wonder if you covered all those places in a single trip and how long was it?

      I am barely managing to keep this blog alive, but its nice to go back and read about my journeys. I am sure you must've had lots of experiences during your travels, whenever you start a blog or a website, do let me know. Always glad to know a fellow traveler, keep wandering! Thanks for stopping by my blog.

    2. Just went through your photos, lovely places and lovely photos. I like the fact that you were backpacking and camping, must've been super fun!

  30. Hi Neelima, nice blog and lovely way of introducing yourself. In some ways travel and photography works as a therapy for me too...I am a banker by profession. Drop by at a blog that I have recently started...and am barely able to keep it refreshed so far :-). Your comments will be very welcome.

    1. I have come to realize there is no greater therapy than practicing art of any kind. Thanks for the comment, I will surely check your site.

  31. hi nice post. can you share some of the trekking tips like how to choose best backpack,shoes raincoat etc .. I am one month infant in trekking. I have done one trek to kudremukh in Feb and going to saurkundi trek in may. recently came to your blog some how and after reading your experiences and travels which ignited my passion for travel hidden deep under abyss of earthly pleasures. I think I can see the world new. thanks

    1. I am really glad you commented on my blog. This is one of those comments that can put a smile on my face for a long time to come. Thanks! :)
      Happy to know that I helped another traveler start his journey. All the very best with your treks.

      A good backpack is a must because if the weight is not spread uniformly across the shoulders, it will cause a lot of pain. Pack moderately, do carry only the essential items. Heavier the bag, slower your pace will be. You must've already known that it is not advisable to wear new shoes for a trek. Break them in before you take them on trek. New shoes tend to give shoe bites and you certainly don't want them to happen on treks. There's a thing called rain poncho, works well for rains by covering you and your backpack.Please mail me at if you are looking for something specific.

      Meanwhile I will try to put together a post on this soon.

  32. Hi Neelima..
    EVen i love travelling a lot. From childhood i always used to pester my dad to travel to some good places in summer holidays. Now, after marriage, iam enjoying travelling a lot.As my husband likes driving and i love travelling, it is a crazy combination. We traveled long distances in car and explored many places in and around Hyderabad. As you said, Hyderabad is not very good for travel enthusiasts, that's why we too want to shift to Bangalore for some time and explore the places around it.
    I too love nature and found happiness in travelling, planning for trip etc.,
    Iam very glad to find your blog from blogadda.


    1. I guess most of us are born with wanderlust, sooner we realize the better! :)
      Happy Traveling and drop by often. :))

  33. New to your blog and loving it! I so identify with the feeling of wanderlust...every time I so much as pass the airport I feel like flying off to some place I've never been before. And not just the travel part, I think you are also a splendid photographer!

    1. I know what you mean! Airport has to be one of my favorite places, the place from where adventure begins. :)
      Thank you. Do visit again.

  34. Nice blog! Great photography! You have a way with words :)
    Loved the 'rants' and '30 before 30'. Could relate to more than a few of those :)
    Good luck with future adventures. Look forward to reading more

    1. Hey Hrishikesh, after coming back from Stok Kangri I realized it's you. :)
      Did you know by then that we would be meeting in the trek? Thanks for dropping by!

  35. Your writing is good. It inspired me. Thanks. :)

  36. Hi Neelima,

    We trekked Roopkund in the same batch and it was easy to see it right then that you loved those mountains and treks. It's great to see that you have taken your travel to the next level now.
    It's great reading your blogs. Good luck for your 30 before 30. Happy Journeys :-)


    1. I remember you Raghavendra. :)
      Roopkund was where it all began and have never looked back since. Home is Himalayas now. Thanks for dropping by, do keep visiting.

  37. Hi Neelima, firstly congratulations for such a lovely blog.It is a real pleasure to read about your travel experiences.
    Travel is something that pulls me too and I certainly want to travel more often and explore new places and cultures. The only constrain I face is the safety issue for a single women travelling. I would be really happy if you could please share how safe is it to travel alone in India and abroad.

  38. Hi Neelima ! Congrats on the great blog ! Mountains are great and magical isn't it ? My love started with a Sar Pass trek (to abt 14000 ft) in the Himalayas, a trip to Gurudongmar in Sikkim and quite a few hikes in the Rocky Mountains in the US. I have just come back to India from the US and was looking for places to go. I am sure your blog will serve as a great guide !

    Cheers! Keep exploring / writing ! :)

  39. Congratulations on living your dream ; admire your courage to follow your instincts than to get caught in the rat race esp. for a person who has graduated from a prestigious institution and such a young age. I'm so glad that you did otherwise it is more harder to do later... that leads to my story. I did a little bit of travelling until my first job in Chennai when I became sick and tired of the mundane. I relocated to Mumbai and almost immediately to US where I took it as a goal to see all the 50 states. First six years, I did 48; and, the 49th was delayed due to marriage, kid; 50 (Hawaii) is still out there to be completed with family. Somewhere during my travel or when my friends appreciated my photos, I fell in love with photography and that seems to have taken a bit of a priority during my travels since then. Not as courageous as you and with a family, kid, I do a balancing act between family travel and my solo backpacking trips. Love the variety in life between work, family, friends, travel (friends and solo). Someday soon :) I want to call "I'm quitting" ; not sure when.

    There is no great fun than sharing your passionate travels with another traveler. Happy Travelling !!!

  40. Very inspiring post.Now coming to your question on what changed my life for good.Last year I went to Everest base camp trek and since then my entire perspective towards life change. Now I travel every weekend and looking forward to a career as a travel blogger.So I can travel full time.

    Keep writing and traveling!!


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