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.
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?
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.