As is customary when the sun sets on another year, looking back at the year that’s gone by, instinctively, I feel the warmth of the familiar followed by the thrill of the unknown: emotions I felt this year in varying degrees. For 2018 has been an adventure for the blogger, it has also been a coming-home for the person behind the laptop who found herself confronting very real emotions about the person she’s become over the year. The blogger is ending the year strong, with some solid brand associations, trips to lands familiar, a lot of content and a lot of learning- but above all, the most important project of the year- The Stumbling Store, that broke all records my already overreaching imagination had conjured up.
It was the person, the one passionately pressing these keys with self-assured fingers, who had disappeared for all of 2017. Reaching out for air, she found herself in the midst of a rock-solid support system. It took trips to places and people I always find warm and welcoming, a long lusted after solo-trip and the leaving behind of some people, to find myself ready to embrace 2019. 2017 may have been my buffer year, but 2018 was my year of growth, the year that let me shine, the year that left me no choice but to chase my dreams with vigour and spirit.
Adding to the sparkle of a magical year were the sunsets I chased while all I was doing was catching up with my own self. Summing up the year in the 5 sunsets that set my heart on fire this year:
1. Sam Sand Dunes, Jaisalmer: After a bumpy ride consisting of dune bashing Rajasthani style- with a tour guide and a jeep driver in tow, I arrived at this secluded spot where the sun shone larger, and the silence was louder. We sat here watching the sun go down, with a little awe and a little banter that makes strangers part-time friends. It was unexpected and beautiful, and my last evening of a 7 day Rajasthan trip. A sense of contentment was in the air, along with the urge to linger.
2. Naukuchiatal, Uttarakhand: We stumbling upon a viewing deck one evening, entirely unaware about the show it was about to put on for us. The sky turned 50 shades of blue to our right, while we watched the lake to our left get slowly engulfed by darkness. Valley upon valley, mountain peak after another, the sun slowly slid behind each of these to eventually retire into the night. We held hands, murmured about the vastness of nature and sighed as the last light of day fizzled out.
3. Naldehra, Himachal Pradesh: We had been walking a while, my boyfriend, best friend and I, in search of a picnic spot. By the time we found one to our liking, we had reached a little mountain peak, with our bags full of chips and a bottle full of Rum and Coke. We laid in the grass, staring up at the sky, smelling the fresh fir trees around us: talking, laughing, enjoying our present company.. and the sweetness of doing absolutely nothing.
4. Nainital, Uttarakhand: The evening wore on, as did the drive from Nainital’s Mall Road to Malla Ramgarh. It was the fourth day of our trip, and naturally by then, our sense of wonder and reservoir of excitement was at its final stages. That was until we turned the corner, and suddenly found ourselves confronting a blinding golden sunset. At the top of the hill at the time, we felt the magnanimity of the sun’s goodnight stare us in the face. We stopped by a tea stall for a warm cup to go with piping corn-on-the-cob, sat by the edge of the mountain and watched in replenished wonder only minutes after swearing we had seen it all.
5. Jilling Terraces, Uttarakhand: Far far away from civilisation, in a rustic cottage on a mountain top, sat 2 girls playing board games. Accompanied by a mountain dog (who had no more business being there than we did) in a Daliesque dining room, we gobbled up our maggi, flung open the windows and let the good air work its magic on our spirits. The clouds descended on our secluded cottage until nothing but clouds were visible, further removing us from the rest of the world as the evening light diffused on us.