Looking Back at 2016 || A Traveller's Response to Change

Sydney Harbour Bridge on New Year's Eve - Photograph by Bharat Sharma
Greek Philosopher, Hiraclitus observed "The only thing that is constant is change." This proverb has since been quoted everywhere, by people from all walks of life, belonging to all age groups. This wisdom has been passed down from generation to generation, and is still relevant. It is an eternal truth that we are taught through various didactic tales during our childhood. But change still manages to take us by surprise all the time, every time. 

As 2016 makes way for the new year 2017, I try to process this thought and make sense of why human beings haven't evolved much on the psychological level, at least when it comes to our primeval reaction to change, and whether travel makes you any more adaptive to sudden change. 

Some changes are imposed on us, but often we deliberately bring about a change in our circumstances. Be it quitting a secure job to start an enterprise or a change as small as shifting homes, sometimes we impose it upon ourselves despite knowing the amount of inconvenience it will cause us. These changes lack that element of surprise and, therefore, are bearable. 

However, changes that take us by surprise reveal several important aspects of our personality. Be it Brexit, Trump, or, closer home, demonetization announcement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, change has indeed been a constant this year. No matter whether we are for or against these changes, we did deal with them in some way. These changes were more like natural phenomena, in the sense that we were powerless in their wake. Only our reaction to them was in our control. Some of us were happy about some of these changes, while others were dismayed. 

Regarding demonetization, some of us took to social media to hail the ruling government for having the right intention, while others vented out against the inconvenience the change caused them or the people they knew. However, the fact remains, that most of our reaction was instinctive and it is equally true that even centuries ago, our instincts would have been the same, and our reactions similar. When it comes to psychological evolution, we have covered a much smaller ground than social, physical, and intellectual evolution. Our connection to our origin, psychologically, remains as strong as it was, and this fact is beyond judgement. It is another eternal truth, something that is beyond our control. 

As travellers, change is an integral part of our life. Anything can happen anywhere, and travellers need to keep their sanity despite everything. Something as small as a hotel booking gone wrong can ruin our peace of mind, so what happens when something big happens. The decision about how you will deal with these changes is made much before these changes strike. It is made when you choose to be a traveller. A traveller needs to stay calm and collected when faced with something unexpected. A traveller needs to "adjust their sails" when the wind changes. Travellers need to be flexible, grounded, and compassionate. They need to have a wise head on their shoulders, or at least a head that is willing to learn. True travellers are seldom unreasonable. So, yes, indeed being a traveller makes you less resistant to change. Travel educates you in the practical aspect of life, and is a huge responsibility. 

As the New Year inches closer, this may be a good time to question yourself and ask whether you really are up to facing a change like demonetization every day. Because really that is what true travel (not tourism) can seem and feel like. On this note, let us once pay our regards to the eventful 2016. Here are the highlights of the year:  

Travelling Camera, despite the name, is not just about travel. It is also about many related aspects, such as the art of photography, learning about gadgets associated with travel, getting to know the personalities to take inspiration from, exploring little known wonders closer home. This year we had ample opportunities to indulge in all of these and much more. 
Here are some of our most popular travel related posts of 2016: 
My son's first encounter with sea, backwaters and much more in South Kerala (By Bharati Malhotra) because there is nothing more magical than a young child getting his/her first glimpse of the enormity of the universe.

As soon as we found out about my husband Alok' conference in Kerala, scheduled for December, we decided that my 9-year-old son, Nishant, and I will also accompany Alok and make it a work plus leisure trip. We planned to extend the stay to 5 days, out of which one day would be reserved for my husband's conference (we could still do some sightseeing in Kochi though) and the rest of the days could be used to explore Kerala a little. I wished we could extend it further, but both my and my husband's jobs don't allow us to take so many leaves. This is one of the disadvantages of being doctors.

Main places to visit around San Francisco Downtown simply because it is San Francisco, one of the our favourite cities.

Above photograph shows Palace of Fine Arts and it looks brilliant in night. It's near Golden Gate Bridge and you can take the bus from other part of Golden Gate Bridge and get down near this beautiful building. It's usually visible from the road, so you clearly gets an idea where you have to get down. There is nice walking area around the water body. Lot of folks from neighborhood come here during early morning and evening for walk.

8 Days road trip to 4 main Hill stations in Himachal Pradesh because this was an ambitious journey to undertake. 

Recently Sourav sent us a message - ‘ Hi VJ, i am planing to visit Himachal Pradesh in this January with my friends. We are planing to visit in 4 places. Dalhousie, Dharmashala/Mcleodganj, Manali, Shimla. We have total 7 days in our bucket so can you please tell how we can split 7 days among this 4 places....Thanks in advance….’ and frankly it’s never recommended to plan for 4 places in 7 days and here we are talking about 3 corners of Himachal Pradesh. So I would recommend to skip one of the destination if you only have 7 days.

This year we started a new series called the Time-Turner series, to focus on the lingering memories of past travels. The series is named after a time-travel device used in the Harry Potter series.
Here are some of the posts:
We are a close-knit family. Me and my sister, our parents, our parents-in-law, and our uncle. And at least once a year we try to head out together. The task of finalising the destination, researching and booking a stay option, and even planning the itinerary, invariably falls on my shoulders. While initially it was simple enough - there were many unexplored places nearby and most of us were physically fit - it has become a little challenging over the years. In such a scenario there are some trips that one remembers simply because it was so convenient for everyone. Our trip to Dhanaulti  was one such trip.My father hasn't been keeping well for the past few years, and the problem with most good resorts in the hills is that they aren't elderly friendly. Rooms are mostly located at multiple levels and at times the vehicle isn't able to reach the reception and one has to walk down a steep slope to reach the resort. And yet ever since we started travelling, which feels like centuries ago, we have been unable to resist the charms of the hills. So in the year 2014, I found myself trying to search for a resort in Dhanaulti where papa would be able to have as much fun as we would.I chanced upon the Green Forest Resorts . The staff appeared very accommodating. They assured me that papa will not have any problems reaching the property and even the rooms. Moreover, the resort also offered an option to book a cottage with three rooms so we could all be together always. They offered a good deal, and we finalized our trip. When I look back now, the stay was just average. We had planned a trip to Tehri dam , but that proved to be a waste of time. We went for a forest walk and that was fun, but papa couldn't walk much so it was not as exciting for him. The service at the resort was average too. But all was still not lost.The location of the resort more than made up for everything. It was overlooking a lush green valley and had an apple orchard of its own that we could explore. My nephew  had too much fun here looking at how apples actually grew. Dense clouds were frequent visitors and we often found ourselves suddenly surrounded by plain, undisturbed whiteness. And to top it all, the fun of staying together and the fact that papa just had to walk a few steps to see a beautiful valley and just a few more to be able to eat with family, just made it all worth it.The fact that we had to drive through dense deodar forests to get to the resort and on our way back was the added bonus. I can still remember the fragrance of pines and deodars. I kept my window open despite the cold wind to be able to savour it.When I look back today, I am able to vividly recall the clouds playing hide and seek and the sweet fragrance of deodars more than anything else. I guess this is the lingering memory of Dhanaulti and probably this will be etched in my mind forever.  I would request you to follow these things when traveling -- Manage your waste well and don’t litte- Use dustbins. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.- Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.- Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.- Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite
Besides the Time-Turner series, our regular series the Great Indian Chai Experience too saw several new additions. Click here to read them.  
There are those who click selfies and then there are others who take selfies to the next level. They demonstrate that though underrated, selfies too can be transformed into art. You just need to have the right vision and perspective. Here is one such person who excels in the art of clicking selfies: 

Most inspiring selfies of an Indian Photographer you definitely don't want to miss

Selfies too can be works of art. Varun Chaudhury proves this by clicking some of the awesomest selfies during his trips to different parts of the country. His selfies are as much about the place he is visiting as they are about the people in them. He manages to capture the spectacular beauty of the places in his selfies which I feel is a very rare quality. Take a look for yourself and let me know what you think.

If you liked this, you will also like going through this list:

2016 Inspirations - Posts that we revisit at every excuse

Few months back when I came across William Dalrymple's profile on Instagram, I was impressed to see photographs by an accomplished writer. Many time popular personalities have portraits or some casual shots, but his feed is class apart and unique. This Photo Journey shares some of the photographs clicked by William Dalrymple  and what makes his Instagram profile so interesting to be featured on Travellingcamera.com . Check out our next post in 'In the Spotlight ' series and get inspired to click better Travel photographs with eye-catching details.First this first - As you start checking his profile, you would read something like this as introduction - " William Dalrymple - Goatherd and Kabooter baz www.williamdalrymple.uk.com "Apart from being an awesome Travel Writer, he is also a brilliant photographer. This time, we don't have an interview in this series, but we found it quite interesting & inspiring to share with viewers of Travellingcamera. Vibha  interviewed him last year and that interview can be checked here .  And there is a reason why I have picked only Jama Masjid photographs from William's Instagram feed. These are the photographs which caught my attention when I was going through Jama Masjid photographs on Instagram. And these images stood out in all. And then I found that photographs are clicked by none other than William Dalrymple. Then I started navigating through his Insta-feedLot of historical photographs can be seen in his profile in Black and whites. And there are many interesting wall paintings from different parts of the world. As experienced in his books, he is an avid traveller and a brilliant observer.Carefully notice the compositions of these photographs and you would rarely see such photographs. And in some of these, imagery is telling a lot about the place, people visiting it and action happening.Him Instagram profile can be checked here -

This year we also discovered an enchanting weekly ceremony that we didn't know was open to public. We visited the President's House with our entire family and all of us were in awe of the precision with which this is conducted. 

The elaborate 'Change of Guards' ceremony at Indian President's House, New Delhi

  Long time back when started searching about Change of Guards, goolge was suggesting London or Buckinghom Palce. On searching more I got the confirmation that Change of Guards at Indian President's house is open for public on Sturdays. For a long time, the visit remained in plans till I saw the blog by Ruby Singh. So this saturday we planned to visit President's house to witness Change of Guards in morning.     Since the ceremony starts at 8am sharp one needs to plan the day early. All of us were up by 5:30 and started from Noida at 6:30am. It hardly took 30 minutes to reach Rashtrapati House in morning and that gave us enough time to figure out the entry gate and car parking.    We followed the road which connects India Gate to President's house. And when we reached at the entry, police directed us to Dalhousie Road and asked to enter from Gate number 37. When I talked to them, it seemed that no one at entry was very sure. They were sure of one thing that some shooting is happening so entry through gate number 2 is not possible. Anyways we headed to Gate number 37. The security man at Gate number 37 was not sure if entry would happen through this gate. So we requested to confirm so that we head towards the right entry gate. There were 5 more cars following us :). He had few calls and confirmed that entry would happen through gate number 37 and car parking is also available inside. That was a great news because finding parking in this region would be a task (because of security reasons).     As we parked our car, Vibha and I were thinking about the security. No one checked our car and we were already in President's house premises. While we were discussing this, we saw these jawans going towards the ceremony ground. It was a good indication that we should walk fast as it was 7:50 already.      We reached the ceremony and almost all chairs were empty. I headed to the first row and a jawan asked me to move to second row. He mentioned that first row is reserved, while there is no such thing. This is first time I experienced an Armyman cheating in front of me. Anyways, it was not a big deal so I simply moved to second row. By now, only Army band was available at the ceremony ground. And a man was describing about the whole process on loudspeaker.     And then Change of Guard Ceremony started. The Army band started playing 'Saare Jahan se Achha' and these Jawans entered the ceremony ground on their magnificent horses.     At the beginning of the ceremony who see so much disciplined action and feel energetic. There must be a reason why Army ensures that every Jawan is highly disciplined and energetic. Looking at their each action you feel proud.    These horses are amazingly trained. All of them take position and ensure that each one is in row. While standing they hardly do any movement. A few times, you can see some movement around their neck but their legs remain at same position all the time. When we walk, each of them are in sync. I have also seen Beating the Retreat ceremony and was super impressed with camels trained for that ceremony.     Guards already on duty came to foreground of Rashtrapati Bhawan and took their place. Soon after the new set of guards joined them on ground and the formalities started.       All of them were walking with full energy and enthusiasm. Please note the dirt around their feet. All of them were in sync and accurate.       New guards are inspected. It's hard for me to describe each and every ceremony on ground and that's the reason that you should visit Rashtrapati Bhawan on any Saturday to witness the action yourself.     I was super happy to see a Photographer and Videographer who were covering the ceremony. I have never seen Army Photographer earlier and wondering what's the eligibility to become a Photographer with Indian Army :).    The ceremony concluded with some interesting actions by horses. Do check out the video for full action and I found it very interesting.     Some quick details -   Time of Change of Guards - 8 am sharp  When should one reach - By 7:30am (Reason behind this time is explained above) Nearest Metro Station to Indian President's House - Central Secretariat Car Parking around President's House - If entering from Gate-37, parking is available inside. If entering from main gate (Gate no 2, you need to park near water fountains - As per traffic police, it's allowed in morning although I was not very sure ) . Otherwise you can on the road connecting President's House with India Gate.  Entry Ticket for Change of Guards - No ticket or special permission needed Documents to carry - Any valid identity proof in original form.     Mom and dad moving back towards the car after witnessing Change of Guard.     Selfidow or something else. Some creative suggesstions are welcome.    These carved elephants caught my attention and thought of taking a quick shot. The President House has very beautiful carvings all around.     While we were heading towards the car parking we noticed these folks taking some rest in shade. This was the troop, which gave charge to the new team.     This is how Delhi roads look on weekend morning :)  How here is a quiz for you - Which of these photographs are clicked with DSLR and Mobile Camera? Do answer through comment below (And you have to judge through visuals only). The one who answers correctly would get something interesting from Travellingcamera.com Team !!!

If you liked this post and found it helpful, I would request you to follow these things when traveling -

- Manage your waste well and don’t litter
- Use dustbins. Tell us if you went to a place and found it hard to locate a dustbin.
- Avoid bottle waters in hills. Usually you get clean water in hills and water bottles create lot of mess in our ecosystem.
- Say big no to plastic and avoid those unhealthy snacks packed in plastic bags. Rather buy fruits.

- Don't play loud blaring music in forests of jungle camps. You are a guest in that ecosystem and disturbing the locals (humans and animals) is not polite 

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