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#FlashbackFriday: Favourites from the attic

I've just realised that today marks 14 years since I first started blogging.  

It wasn't quite here; I had a different blog then, but parts of it have found room in this new home. In those early years, I used to mark every "bloggiversary" with a post, but that is a practice long forgotten. So it's a sweet coincidence, then, that I happened to be doing some blog calendar planning, looked at the date, and a shadowy memory came to the forefront. I've got a million things to be doing right now, but I think this deserves some of my time. 

I've already written about how my blogging has evolved, reviving this blog and creating an archive. There are more tweaks coming, but enough of that for now. Instead, we're going down memory lane with one(ish) post for each year that I've been blogging. This wasn't easy; there aren't many posts I feel happy sharing from those early years, and not all years were created equal (I'm looking at you, 2012). Unintentionally, these pieces of writing are about many significant periods in my life, weird but nice to revisit. And yes, I quote myself. It feels like a different version of me, and yet the same.

Also, why "attic", you ask? Because I'll probably never have one except in this virtual land o' dreams.


2007: Holidays in paradise

We reach the foot of the mountain and start climbing, looking down occasionally at the foamy, swirling white waters of the Beas.

A description of the journey to my grandparents' home in the mountains. I've always had a great love for this place, though it has changed and evolved over the years as love often does. The journey is also different now; there's a plane in lieu of the bus, and a road instead of hiking three hours. I wrote this piece in high school and it got me some gigs for the annual magazine's editorial team, though that is a story of disappointment for another time. Also, I didn't actually take my violin there, nor was I very good at playing it, but artistic license, am I right?

2008: Sepia faces expression, a smile, a raised eyebrow / preserved, visible for eternity...

A little poem inspired by my grandparents' wedding photograph album. I like to think of it as proof that I was always interested in family history and photographic archives.

2009: To you, with love

It's not everyday that you wish your best-friend-for-fifteen-years (or since "the beginning of time", as she put it) a happy twentieth, after all.

A note for my friend of (now) 26 years on her twentieth birthday. She was visiting her sister in Durham, US at the time, and we had a long, nostalgic phone call.

2010: Quester

So what if there's no end to sail towards? I'm content just roaming the seas.

I learned something about myself from an online quiz, and it has stuck with me ever since. As I embark on a new direction this year, these words still seem very relevant to who I am. Maybe we never change much, after all.

2011: Life in bokeh

You know the first sunshine after a shower, the kind that peeps through the trees and clouds and makes the raindrops still clinging to everything shimmer? I saw it yesterday.

A spontaneous post about a cab ride, rain and being on the cusp of something. I'd forgotten about this one, which makes it all the more special. Shout out also to this poem about growing up and this photo essay from the above-mentioned paradise.

2012: A tie! The story of Tess and Snow, hey oh!

But right now, the world is magical. And now is all that matters.

This was a year with so many highlights, it's hard to pick just one. So my top posts from 2012 are a tie between reminiscing about the tree outside my window, and the first time I ever saw snow. But also, I love this photo comparison I did in Vienna of places from Before Sunrise, and the entire 52 Weeks in London photo project.

2013: Notes from Heathrow airport

Delhi scares me more than it used to before, I think, and I am completely out of my comfort zone. But I am here.

An essay about my reluctance to return to India after 14 months in London (what is it about that number today?), difficult to write as I tried to retain nuance and not simply rant. 

2014: Humans of Vienna

Do you ever do that? Give strangers a story, imagine what their life must be like, where they've been, where they're going?

A recollection of the people I encountered while travelling solo in Vienna two years prior on my tour of western (sort of) Europe. Surprises everywhere.

2015: Au revoir

She certainly found the prospect of grace. In her own words, “ars moriendi is ars vivendi. The art of dying is the art of living.”

How do you say goodbye to a friend gone too soon? By writing about her writing, perhaps. In a year of goodbyes and growth, this threw everything else into sharp focus, stripping away the superficial. Some of this came together in an end-of-the-year post, a love letter to Linklater's films.   

hoan kiem

2016: The red bridge 

I decided later that Hanoi was not one of my favourite places, but definitely one of my favourite experiences.

Solo adventures in northern Vietnam, which I was drawn to visit upon seeing photos of the striking bridge on Hoan Kiem. Special mention also to this very personal double exposure photography series, and this important interview with Palestinian photographer Rula Halawani that I find myself returning to every few months.

2017: Growing up with Anne Shirley

If I had to pick one word to describe the series, it would be "wholesome" – much like Anne's character once she grows into it, and a lot like her life.

I've loved the Anne of Green Gables books since I was thirteen, and it was about damn time for a tribute. (Also, solo travelling in Goa.)

2018: A Greek song about Madhubala

And it was at this concert, amidst melodies of old mountain songs, fire-walking rituals and Cretan dancing, that I found out that there is yet another connection between our countries.

On my obsession with Greece, and Greece's obsession with Bollywood.

2019: Stepping into the past in Chunar

Perhaps it was because it had the whiff of another time, and was made of stories.

My grandmother and I visited her parents' town, rich with love and legacies. And by some lucky coincidences, a genealogy and family history project was born.

2020: I take thee

The people – both here and from afar – the love, the intentions, the expectations, the decisions, and even the curation, time and backache of photographing these elements are all part of the memory this will eventually become.

Photographs taken by me of our wedding day (what?!) Yes, I did have a spreadsheet. Also, I can't not mention this post on comfort food, because don't we all need it.


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