“I grew up in Abu Dhabi there wasn’t much travelling involved except coming to India once a year, that too, to Kerala. A few years later I moved to India for my high school education. Of course there was a change in lifestyle and environment, but I blended in with time.”
“In 2011, I moved to Hyderabad, and the food culture there is amazing. It was the first metro city I had moved alone to. Hyderabad was very colourful, rich and vibrant. From food to culture, there was variety in everything. It had lots to explore.”
“Weekends in Hyderabad were meant for dining out and trying lots of food. I’m a very critical person when it comes to food, so I started reviewing food on Zomato. I started checking in at restaurants, clicked pictures and would leave honest reviews on Zomato. At that time, Zomato was getting in touch with foodies and started verifying them for reviews. An executive from Zomato got in touch with me and that’s how I became a verified Zomato reviewer with a badge.”
“Soon after, offers started pouring in. I started getting invitations from well known restaurants to come and review their food. With time, I was offered Staycations as well. It was only after a few days that I realised the audience just doesn’t like limited reviews and they wanted to know more, which was least possible with Zomato’s limited space reviews. That’s when I switched to writing blogs. I started writing articles on cuisines and my experiences and with time I started gaining traction.”
“I became good friends with popular chefs in Hyderabad and started talking about them on social media out of pure appreciation for what they were trying to achieve in the culinary space. They had craft, and worked really hard which I felt deserved to be spoken about. My blog was running well and I became a notable blogger in the city.”
“After Hyderabad, I moved to Bangalore with my family. Because I was quite popular in the food blogger space in Hyderabad, I thought things would be easy in Bangalore. But that wasn’t the case, the food blogging community here is very competitive. Getting invites to restaurants to critique the food here wasn’t easy, so I had to start again, from scratch.”
“I started dining out on weekends again. Weekdays were about eating home cooked meals and weekends were about going out with friends to eat. I didn’t do that to get a notable blogger tag or establish myself, I simply loved doing it. I’ve been a foodie for 8 years now and when you’re someone who has already tried a lot of food, you set a benchmark for your palette.”
“Slowly, I started getting recognition and invitations again. But like I said, I’m very critical about food. I was always honest about my reviews, If I didn’t like a certain dish I would be upfront about it, which was not acceptable to many notable restaurants. They always expected a five star review which was impossible from my end because when you have a bunch of people relying on your reviews, you take responsibility for your actions. For me, blogging always meant being responsible and truthful towards my audience, regardless of money.”
Love For Travelling
“I started losing interest in food reviews due to restaurants’ expectations from a blogger. I’ve enjoyed numerous cuisines and with time, became aware of the authenticity of the food culture. So I started going to food festivals as you know people will come from different parts of the world and the taste will be authentic.”
“Brands and NGOs started associating with me and then I was exposed to the sneaker culture, where people wore different sneakers or “kicks” as they call it. I got invited to sole culture and met several sneaker-heads- this opened my mind to a whole new realm beyond food & travel. I believe, at some point, people thought I’ve now become a lifestyle blogger. For me, it was always food and travel blogging that I was known for. But when people start associating with you, you are no longer a blogger, you are termed as an influencer.”
“At one point, I realised I liked writing about travel so I started travelling across the nation, clicked pictures and blogged about it. Soon after, I travelled to Thailand. There were no maps and people didn’t understand English. There, I got to know about the Phi Phi islands and how people visit it and come back within a day. But when I saw the picture I thought I had to stay there for 2 days. I reached the island and later got on to the sea princess boat thinking it would be fun and cool, but how wrong was I.”
“In the middle of the journey the boat started rocking through the waves, people were smiling and enjoying themselves but I was paranoid. A few minutes into the boat ride and now everyone was slowly getting paranoid to a point when they started puking.”
“Now, in such cases you look up to the crew who you assume to have been in such situations and take charge of it. But what happens when the crew itself starts puking? You know you are in a big problem. Out of all of us, 4 people including me didn’t puke. As soon as we reached the island, I sat there for a while, completely traumatized about the incident.”
“The incident left me shaken, but I didn’t want to sit traumatized and waste my time. I just needed some peace so I went to The Big Buddha statue. It was peaceful up there, the humming sounds and bells gave me peace and brought me back from the incident.”
Art Of Tattoo
“I always thought about tattoos as an art. It reflects the person and their understanding of life. A soldier goes to war and gets scars but I obviously can’t cut myself. So a tattoo was the best way to leave an impression to reflect the various phases of my life.”
“My first tattoo was of Jim Morrison, he was my favourite artist and song writer so I got him inked. I had Lord Shiva as my second tattoo, I’m neither an atheist nor do I pray a lot, but I try my best to visit a Shiv mandir and chant ‘Om Namah Shivaya’. He’s known as the God of destruction so I got Shiva inked.”
“My third tattoo was of Anthony Bourdain, he was a travel documentarian and my absolute favourite.
He inspired me in so many ways. He passed away two years ago, so I got a tattoo in his memory. My last tattoo is of the mountains under a star-spangle sky, because of my insatiable love for mountains.”
Life: A Teacher
“My parents were obviously surprised about me getting a tattoo but I had to explain to them that I know what I’m doing. It didn’t take them more than 40 minutes to understand and they never questioned me again. My family is quite progressive in terms of religion and society opinions which I’m grateful for.”
“Needless to say, experience is the best teacher. My life has always taught me a lot of things. Cherish the good things and work upon the things you failed at, but most importantly keep going. I believe you should be humble about your experiences, there are people who get exposure and then they lose perspective, it shouldn’t be that way. Travel often, and let that sink in, it helps you understand there is a lot more in this world that you have left to experience.”
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