India in 7 Links



On the Ganges River in Varanasi, India

On the Ganges River in Varanasi, India

The 7 Links Project

I was one of the many travel bloggers nominated to share 7 special links. The goal of this project, started by Tripbase, is to ‘unite bloggers in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.’ Though I am not a “rules person” (to say the least!), I will follow the rules on this one, which are:

1) Blogger is nominated to take part
2) Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category.
3) Blogger Nominates 5 More Bloggers

Link #1: Most beautiful post

Arrggghhh, already stumped. I write about India because I feel it is beautiful, but I don’t really have the photographic skills to capture it. (However, hopefully all that will change with my evolving partnership with photographer Andrew Adams of Katha Images). I will have to nominate Aurovalley Ashram: A haven of peace and conscious living because it is about such a beautiful place — “my” ashram in northern India.

Link #2: Most popular post

Hmmmm, I would say it’s a tie between The top 5 things I’ve learned after traveling a year in India and The top 5 myths about India. (I’m not including the Eat, Pray, Love film ticket contest or a couple of Bollywood-themed posts.) I guess it’s true, those “top 5″ or “top 10″ posts do get a lot of mileage. Personally, I don’t do these posts lightly, even if the titles sound a bit trite. I spent a good deal of thinking and writing time on both of them, and I am glad they have been so widely read. I have learned a lot about life, and about myself, in India. It is, I always maintain, one of the most potentially “transformative” places you can visit, perhaps especially if you are from western society.

photograph of snake charmers in Jaipur, India

snake charmers in Jaipur, India

Link #3: Most controversial post

I don’t tend to write controversial posts. Even the posts I thought would be controversial, aren’t — such as Celebrating the women of India, which criticized a Globe and Mail newspaper article, specifically, and the journalistic style of writing, generally. The only post that provoked a backlash was the ONE time I waded into travel blogging drama and made a couple of “negative” statements. After receiving some much-deserved comments, criticisms and observations from other travel bloggers, I quickly recanted, realized it’s not my style, and learned a lot from the experience. (I deleted the statements, didn’t want them to continue to create negative reverberations.) I learned that it’s much, much better for me to remain true to my philosophy of positivity and to take a positive spin on things. For example, even though I am critical in Celebrating the women of India, you can tell by the title of the blog that I am offering a positive approach to the topic in question (sexism in India). I guess Sub-continental divide: How to write about India drew some thoughtful comments … back in the day when I didn’t realize I should jump in and respond! Doh!

Link #4: Most helpful post

I try to be helpful to people going to India, especially first-timers. I am the first to admit that India is tough on travelers, and there is a steep learning curve to being there. You have to learn how to handle huge crowds, chaos, assertive touts, wily rickshaw drivers, heart-wrenching beggars, much lower standards of hygiene, unsafe water — so many things! I pulled together a post that captures many of the advice-style posts I have written, and gives people a good place to start: Planning to go to India?

Mariellen Ward in Tilley Endurables hat at The Farm Villa, Ranthambhore, Rajasthan, India

me and my Tilley Hat at The Farm Villa, near Ranthambhore, Rajasthan

Link #5:  A post whose success surprised me

I don’t know about surprised, but I am humbled by the attention I get, and very grateful. I try to live up to the attention by working hard, writing consciously, trying to be open, non-judgmental and true to my vision and taking my subject, but not myself, seriously. This seems like a good moment to say thank you to anyone who’s ever read my work or my blog, and especially those who have commented. Thank you!

Link #6: A post that didn’t get the attention I feel it deserved

I have never worked so hard on a piece of travel writing as I did on this one, Crossing over in Varanasi, India — which, admittedly, was published by Canada’s largest-circulation newspaper (The Toronto Star) and triggered my favourite email ever, by travel editor Jim Byers, who loved it. I was just starting out and it meant the world to me to get such effusive praise by a guy who is known for being a bit crusty (charmingly crusty!). I consider myself a travel writer first, and a travel blogger second, so it’s the travel writing that I’m proud of; and the profession I want to direct my energies and intention towards. Even though it pays so badly. Yikes.


Mariellen Ward
Mariellen Ward is a freelance travel writer whose personal style is informed by a background in journalism, a dedication to yoga and a passion for sharing the beauty of India's culture and wisdom with the world. She has traveled for about a year altogether in India and publishes an India travel blog, Mariellen also writes for magazines and newspapers.
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