It’s time for Round 3 of the Blogger of the Month series. This is my first ‘series’ of posts on Nomadic Lives, and I must admit I’m beginning to enjoy this quite a bit. That’s it then, time for me to stop meandering and present to you, the Blogger of the Month – September 2015.
Blogger Bio: Today I have the immense pleasure of introducing to you, Shivya Nath, the wonderful, wonderful girl behind The Shooting Star. I think it’s an incredible twist-of-fate that 3 years ago, Shivya was one of the biggest reasons I started documenting my travel logs, and today, I was able to mooch off a good half hour of her time for this little interview. Like me, Shivya is born to lovely Indian parents, and the challenges of explaining the concept of a nomadic lifestyle to them is one of many strings that stitches us together. Shivya quit her desk job with Singapore Tourism in 2011 to seek a life of long-term travel. Her journey has been incredible to say the least, and I mean this more now than ever before – I don’t think anybody else has personally inspired me more towards making that leap of faith myself. So enough of Dusky talking then. Let’s hear it from the woman of the moment herself!
Dusky: The highest item on your bucket list that you’re yet to tick off?
Shivya: Riding a motorbike through Central Asia or the Caucasus region! (pretty sure she ticked this off by the time I published this. HA!)
Dusky: One item you carry with you on your journeys that has absolutely no right or reason to be with you on the road, but you still can’t leave it behind!
Shivya: Tibetan prayer flags. I’m not a Buddhist or anything, but don’t have the heart to ditch them and they carry no weight 😉
Dusky: Describe the biggest stereotype that travel has busted for you.
Shivya: Beware of strangers – I can’t believe we grow up hearing that. I’ve found the world to be full of kind, helpful, wonderfully warm people, though of course, you always have to trust your gut.
Dusky: You are now working completely on the go. Personally, I find it a little tough to balance work & leisure on the road. How do you manage to find balance? Also, how tough was it for you to develop an independent income stream? Is it something aspiring travel bloggers can reasonably expect to build & sustain?
Shivya: Oh it’s tough to maintain that balance. I think what helps is that I really love what I do – writing, social media, connecting with travellers and travel brands online. These days when I see a gorgeous view and have a creative burst, I find my notebook or iPhone and start penning thoughts that would otherwise just flow by and be forgotten.
It wasn’t easy to develop an independent income stream, especially since I didn’t really know what I was doing! I had my feet in several pits – running a travel business, freelance travel writing, freelance social media and copywriting work, partnering with travel companies on my blog, and blogging itself. It took me almost three years to streamline and somewhat stabilize my income flow, and get a work-life balance I crave; (un)fortunately that meant selling India Untravelled earlier this year and becoming a full time blogger.
The number of serious / professional travel bloggers in India is still small, and there is potential for aspiring travel bloggers. That could mean persevering without an income through the blog for 2-3 years; however, and in my opinion, someone with an immense love for travel, writing and social media (and someone willing to refine their skills) is most likely to succeed.
Dusky: Describe one moment of random kindness at the hands of a stranger on the road that warmed your heart beyond words.
Shivya: There are so many! Here’s a recent one from Nicaragua that I wrote about [Read: Isla De Ometepe: Where the Streets Have no Name]
Dusky: Describe one place you stumbled upon that is relatively off the tourist map and you deliberately didn’t speak about on your blog. You don’t have to name it, just describe the moment and the place!
Shivya: That beautiful little island in the Indian Ocean; my friend and I were the 11th Indians to arrive there that whole year. You hike through the forest, and see an aerial view of four bays with azure blue waters and white sand beaches – and not a soul on them. Yours is the only fishing boat island hopping and snorkeling in what looks like an aquarium. You look away from the scorching sun and see a heart-shaped like in the middle of the ocean. You land on an uninhabited little island to cook yourself a makeshift meal and wonder what if you never took the boat back…
Dusky: If you could never travel again, but could be stuck for the rest of your life in a place of your choice – what place would that be?
Shivya: Don’t wish that on me please! (I never will Shiv) I would pick a secret island in the Indian Ocean where no one can find me 😉 (May I recommend to you Moyenne Island?]
Dusky: One bizarre incident on the road that will stay with you forever!
Shivya: So many again! Here’s one encounter I’ll never forget [Read: What a WWII Polish Refugee Taught Me About ‘Hindustan‘]
Dusky: Can you describe some common struggles you face as a 20-something Indian girl who’s main objective is to travel?
Shivya: Finding fast connectivity in remote areas and finding clean bathrooms on long journeys in rural India. Other than that, I’ve found people to go out of their way to look out for me.
Dusky: This one’s particularly sacred to me and immensely personal. Describe one moment from your journeys that you’d point out as a moment of absolute clarity – one where you felt the most absolute of absolutions about anything.
Shivya: Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m either still looking for that moment or that moment is every single day on the road.
Dusky: Do you ever yearn or miss the stable (and if I may say so) the more routine & conventional life? Do you think you’d someday want to come back to the other side?
Shivya: I have clarity on this one – an absolutely NO! I would never give up the freedom that my current lifestyle entails me, never go back to try and ascend the corporate ladder. Even if one day, I decide to give up my nomadic, location independent life and find a place to call home, I don’t think I’ll be able to survive in the corporate world.
Dusky: From one Indian kid to another, I know it isn’t easy to explain the kind of life we aspire to live to our parents/family. Describe one of the toughest & most irritating question you’ve to answer time after time again from family and sometimes even some friends. (I get called ‘hippie’ a lot! HA)
Shivya: Haha, I get called many things 😉
The most irritating question – “Akeli hi chali jayegi?” (“You’ll go/travel all by yourself?”) That’s when the fictional stories begin :p
Dusky: Name the person you’d want to deliver an eulogy for you. Give a short version of what you’d like to hear in it!
Shivya: I’ll be dead, so doesn’t matter who delivers it and what they say. But if were to listen in, I’d like it to say, “She was just a girl who travelled…”