… later, I sit down to write my annual blog birthday / anniversary post. There’s a touch of disbelief (and a quiet sense of pride too) that I’m still blogging considering how much the blogging scene in general and travel blogging in particular has changed in the 9 years since I began this blog on June 2, 2010.
From a small group of bloggers led by their love for travel and writing to the marketing and social media driven influencer type of travel blogging today, there has been a paradigm shift. The initial dismay at the changing atmosphere gave way to angst and then despair, followed by resignation and finally the inevitable acceptance.
This annual blog birthday/anniversary post is an opportunity to look back at the blogging year that was. An opportunity to reflect and share the highs & the lows, the fun times and the not-so-fun times, the learnings and the unlearnings as well. And as the title suggests, some numbers and the statistics as well — from the number of posts and words written to page views and spam comments !
But the statistics don’t really reveal the full picture.
… later, I begin with a confession — I almost didn’t write this 8th anniversary post.
Reason? I have hardly blogged this past year managing only 18 posts, 11 of which were written in the months of June and July 2017 and the remaining 7 spread out over the remaining 10 months.
For this reason alone, I didn’t feel that my 8th blog anniversary deserved the usual blog post to mark this milestone. The blog anniversary (June 2) came and went, but I couldn’t ignore the niggling thought that maybe, I should reconsider writing that anniversary post. After all, while the blog anniversary was a milestone or the ‘destination’, the posts were always about the journey to that destination, and it was important to record that journey. So I finally got down to writing the blog anniversary post, and here I am with it, albeit 10 days late.
To be honest, this post is less about the blog and blogging or the reasons why I didn’t blog or wasn’t able to blog (actually, I was writing blog posts; I was just not publishing them). This is more about what I did this year some of which will get written about eventually here !
…later, it’s that time of the year again. That time when I write the annual blog anniversary post, a report card of the blogging year gone by. Every anniversary post is as much about acknowledging a personal milestone, as it is about taking stock and the 7th blog anniversary post is going to be no different.
Every blogging year has been unique with its own set of highs and lows, challenges and surprises, achievements and lessons learnt, etc. The 7th year of blogging has been no different and yet, it stands apart from the previous years of blogging.
I know, I tell that every blog anniversary post. But, believe me, the 7th year of blogging has been different in a very unique way. It has brought me back to the beginning of the blogging journey I embarked on this day in 2010.
In other words, I have come a full circle, back to where I began 7 years later. Let me elaborate.
I arrived in Shakhrisabz after a 4-hour, uneventful ride from Bukhara. It was the first day of a 3-day public holiday in Uzbekistan for Qurban Hayit (or Bakri Id as we know in India) and the town appeared to be quite deserted.
Though I knew that the monuments would be open and my guide waiting for me, it was still a little unnerving to see empty streets and closed shops as my car drove into the town shortly before noon. I was surprised to see so few tourists in Shakhrisabz, especially considering the fact that it, or rather its historic city centre, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (inscribed in 2000). The harsh sun only accentuated the emptiness, as did a lack of green cover, which was ironical as I found out later that “Shakhrisabz” means Green City in English !
When I met Tursonay, my guide, one of the first questions I asked her was why there were so few people on Shakhrisabz here. Her answer was quite crisp and to the point: Shakhrisabz was not as grand or glamorous as Samarkand or Bukhara. But, she went on to add, the history of the region would have been very different if not for the most famous son of Shakhrisabz — Timur, Uzbekistan’s national hero. And for that reason alone, Shakhrisabz was important,
And over the next 2-3 hours that hot September afternoon in 2015, I got introduced to Amir Timur — as he is referred to in Uzbekistan — and got acquainted with his home town, Shakhrisabz.
later, it’s that time of the year again. That time when I review the blogging year(s) gone by, where I reflect a bit, whine a bit, make a confession or two… All because its my 6th blog anniversary or blogversary today. 🙂
When I published my first post on this day 6 years ago on the Bandra Fort in Mumbai, it was with the hope that I would be blogging for a long time to come. And yet, each time a blogversary comes around, I’m surprised, and secretly proud, that I have lasted for so long!
For those who came in late or have not followed my blogging journey, let me summarise the first five years of my blogging journey. While the first year was an exciting time of exploring and finding my feet in the blogging world, the second year was a heady period of peer appreciation and recognition. The third year was when I got a reality check in the form of severe writer’s block and negativity and bullying in the blogging world. In year four, I faced extreme blogging fatigue, and took time to slowly reclaim the pleasure of blogging. In contrast, year five was my most relaxed year of blogging where I did exactly what I wanted to do blog-wise.
… later, it is time for that annual blog anniversary post. The fifth to be precise, and about a blogging year that has been quite different from the previous years.
If the first year of blogging was an exciting time of finding my feet in the blogging world, then the second year was a heady and wonderful year of peer recognition. The third year of blogging was the year of reality check in the form of severe writer’s block and coming face to face with negativity and bullying in the blogging world. Year four was all about facing extreme blogging fatigue, wondering what to do, and slowly reclaiming the pleasure of blogging.
As for the fifth year of blogging, it has probably been the most relaxed year of blogging ever — barring a couple of mini rants here and there. I blogged when I wanted to, what I wanted to, how I wanted to, and even where I wanted to. Basically, I did what I wanted to. Blog-wise, that is. 🙂
But before I go into a little bit of details of that, I must share with you an incident that turned out to be the highlight of Year 5 of blogging. It’s not about the blog directly and yet it is. It happened on the morning of 19th October 2014.
It was a Sunday and I was woken up by the doorbell at around 7.30 am. Though I like to sleep in a little on Sundays, that rarely happens. Our housing society’s garbage collector, Suraj, has a rather perverse streak — on weekdays he collects the garbage around 9.30 am; on weekends he’s there before 8.00 am.