Looking Back, Looking Ahead

{BEHOLD, the mostest late New Year blog post of 2015 yet! Try getting into some of that 1st of January spirit please, for the length of this post?}

It’s a new year, once again.

Wait, that didn’t sound quite right. Let me say that again – It’s a NEW YEAR! Again!! Woohoo!

I would moan about how quickly time passes when you’re actually enjoying your days, but starting the new year with a crib just wouldn’t do now, would it? So, instead, I decided to look back upon the past year (2014, you were good to me, mmmm) and remember some moments that did their bit towards making 2014 unforgettable for me.

{Regular readers (yes, all seven of you), you would know most of this already, but please bear with my self-indulgence (or tiptoe out real quietly, if you must) as I sink into rewind mode on the last day of the year.}

Skydiving in San Diego

The bottom drops out of your stomach, your legs (feel like they) flail wildly in the air, and the endless pit that your insides have become just keep wondering, “Okay, what did I just do!?!” And this happened on loop the entire 10 (or so) seconds of the free fall when I first jumped off the plane some 13,000 feet above ground at Skydive San Diego. Ten seconds is a LOT of time when your mind’s busy adjusting to the lack of solid ground beneath your feet, and your gut feeling’s sure that something’s gone wrong and you’d never make it back alive. Thankfully, like with everything else in life, you soon make peace with it and adjust. Adjust to falling through thin air with absolutely nothing arresting your fall. Adjust to wind rushing into your mouth, drying your throat, making your cheeks flap as you mouth the words “unbelieeeevable!” over and over again (you knew you should’ve exercised all that face-fat away!). Adjust to the state of part-disbelief part-exhilaration mid-sky, strapped to a guy and anchored to a parachute into which you’ve reposed your faith and life.

As the freefall gets reined in by the sudden blossoming of your chute, which transforms your accelerated fall into a gentle glide, the adrenalin rush turns into pure ecstasy as you come to terms with the realization that you really, truly, finally did this.

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 Catching a sunrise from Adam’s Peak

www.yearful-of-sundays.com

I’ve spent much time and blog-space raving about it, but no words or pictures can actually do justice to the marvelousness (what, that isn’t a word? Pff) of a breathtaking, heart-stopping sunrise from what feels like the peak-of-the-world. The view demands a good 3 hours of dogged trekking up a mountain, but glimpsing a beautiful morning unfolding itself out of the night sky is worth every bout of breathlessness or muscle strain.

Being aimless in Spiti + the lost trek to Chandra Taal

Spiti was what I’d call a life-changing experience if I were prone to using grand phrases. That I’m not shouldn’t undermine the fact that Spiti changes something in you — for at least as long as you’re wandering about its barren lands, if not more. I have paid my ode to Spiti and I don’t think I can top that, so, well.

And Chandra Taal, man. Like I wrote earlier, Chandra Taal – the lake of the moon – just lends itself to adventures. Mine stayed with me for a long time in the form of knee-scrapes, elbow-bruises, and a “wow that day was craaaazy” sort of feeling in the pits of my stomach. It involved getting hopelessly lost while trekking down from Kunzum La; slipping, struggling and sliding down a mountain face; fearing for life every now and then; and dealing with the mysterious disappearance of my newly-befriended companion, an Israeli girl with the adopted name Chandra. More on that later, but the lake, when I finally got to it, lived up to the legend.

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Winning South Africa

September was a month of surprises, the most amazing of them being this billboard with MY pic on it that I found outside my house one fine day:

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Turned out, I was one of the four Indian winners of the #TakeMeToSouthAfrica contest hosted by the (very generous) South African Tourism Board, India, and this is how their amazing team decided to unveil the final result! I took off to get me some much-needed African sun in the cold winter month of December and then followed an epic journey that gave me one of my most memorable moments of all times, not just 2014. Along with three others like me who got mad-level lucky, and an intensely talented camera crew to capture our travels, we went cage-diving with the Great White Sharks, geckoing in the gushing Sabie river, sandboarding down Cape Town dunes, quad biking along a forest trail in Mpumalanga, wine-tasting in beautiful vineyards, safari-ing through Kruger, and jumped off cliffs wherever we saw one (well, almost). AND we got to travel with the fabulous Jonty Rhodes, undisputed god of fielding in cricket, while we were at it! Some memories are meant to last forever.

Roadtripping around India

Not much of this was planned in advance, but I managed to spend some three and a half months in total traipsing through the roadways, highways and kachcha pathways of India. Started with making my way across state after state in south India (one painfully long sore-ass journey among several pleasantly memorable ones), then moved up along the west coast to zip through the fantastic roads of Gujarat and their reasonably decent counterparts in Rajasthan, and ended up hitching rides on the winding, lonesome roads in uphill Uttarakhand and Himachal. Travelling by road isn’t the easiest of options in India, but it sure is the most memorable – okay, after train journeys, maybe.

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Indulging in Mexicanamania

Blue Caribbean beaches, scenic ruins, Mayan cenotes, lipsmackingly good food, houses bursting with colour and sunny days of sangria. Mexico had to feature in here.

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Trying new foods & drinks of all conceivable sorts

It was a good year for trying all sorts of new mouthstuffers. Meals of pap and snacks of fried worm and kudu meat in a Shangana village in South Africa. Breakfast hoppers in thatched-roof villas in Sri Lanka. Some Ethiopian fare in NYC, and humongous Rajasthani thaalis in Jaipur. Homemade potato dimsums made by my hospitable hosts in Spiti. Fiery hot chilli-cheese dishes in dim, homey restaurants in Bhutan. Oh, and a slab of unbelievably rock-hard yak cheese which I could use as a potential killing weapon. My first Ben & Jerry’s (yeah). And Belgian ales and South African amarula and Mexican sangria and local Spitian arrack.

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Starting this travel blog :)

I’ve lazed my way around it for far too long, so I’m glad I finally got this going. Now I just need to make sure it doesn’t die from lack of attention like every plant I’ve ever owned…

That was my 2014 in small doses. What was your year like?

53 thoughts on “Looking Back, Looking Ahead

  1. Breakfast hoppers I know as “string hoppers” from the many times I visited Sri Lanka. Lived in Colombo for 6 months. Jumping out of planes might have been exciting for me years ago but cliff jumping would be a cross off the list for me. lol. I admire your bravery. Now for the food! Lots of pleasant memories there and the pictures had me salivating. rotfl.

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  2. Happening year, huh?! I hope the coming year will be even better. Have a fab year, Ami.
    Have I told you I love your blog title? It’s super-cute!

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  3. Adventurous 2014 for you. Skydiving must have been an unforgettable experience. Good to see your post after a long time. Wish you a great 2015. :)

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  4. Feeling as if this is not my first time her Ami… and guess I must have told you –
    1. Absolutely Looove your blog name :)
    2. this profile pic :)
    and now – 3. the post dear !! Its fab which means that you had a fab year in 2014… may you have a better in 2015 :)
    loved the pics and the billboard was awesssome :)
    A yearful of Sundays….. sigh !

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  5. Looks like you’ve covered it. =) Wow, what a list. Beautiful description of the freefall. And isn’t that amazing, how we’ll adjust even to the ground giving way beneath our feet when it takes our heart with it??

    =) Gorgeous pix.

    Xxx
    Diana

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  6. You sure had a fab year, Ami!
    Wow! Congrats for winning the trip to SA! I was one of the shortlisted ones for the same :)
    Super pics! Great experiences. You have tried skydiving too!
    Wishing you all the best for many adventures ahead! Enjoy :)

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  7. How incredible it must have been to have won a trip to South Africa!! I’ve never been and would love to visit one day :) You’re much braver than I am to do skydiving – I know everyone says it’s exhilarating but there’s no way in the world I can ever be persuaded to jump out of a plane :D

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  8. Pingback: #MeetSouthAfrica with Jonty Rhodes | A Yearful of Sundays

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