DayDreamer blog wishes everyone a joyous and prosperous new year.
I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
I am a big fan of budget travel. Apart from meeting new people, you also travel cheap. Having undertaken a number of such trips since I came to the Netherlands about eighteen months ago, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands when one of the student trips organization announced an excursion to Vaduz and Innsbruck.
To those who are not aware of Vaduz, it is the capital of Liechtenstein-the sixth smallest country in the world. Starting from Utrecht in the heart of the Netherlands on a cold evening, about eighty people (some students, some expats) arrived in Vaduz the next morning. We were immediately captivated by the place-the hills, the signs in German and not a soul out on the streets. Coming from India and living in the Netherlands (two of the most densely populated countries in the world), you become accustomed to seeing people wherever you go. But not in Vaduz. However, we were told that while the shops would open much later, the tourist information center would open before time for us. After a quick snack, we went about exploring the city.
Since this was a one-day trip and we had to reach Austria around lunchtime, we had about two hours to see what the city had to offer. One of the most remarkable sites of the city is the Vaduz Castle-home of the Prince. Sitting on top of a hill, it is visible from anywhere in the city and is like a symbolic watchtower-with the Prince watching over the city’s inhabitants and acting like a guardian angel. Since the city center would be deserted in the early morning, we decided to climb the hill and see the castle. A road near the parking depot led to the path towards our destination. After walking for about 20 minutes, we reached the castle. Made of stone, it is a site to behold. Although not very big, it is still very impressive. One of the lucky members of the group even managed to meet the Prince.
After seeing our share of the castle, we headed back down towards the main street. Here, the tourist information center, the museum, parliament and the main church are all in the same line, with the garden in front of them. The four most important buildings on one street gave us an idea of the size of this city. Especially for me, coming from a big city in India where travelling from one end to the other takes about three hours, it was a bit surprising to see that entire city could be crossed in about fifteen minutes. With our time in Vaduz over, we headed towards Innsbruck in Austria.
Innsbruck (the name meaning Inn bridge in German) is a popular winter sports destination of the country. Located in the state of Tyrol, I was immediately struck as to how similar the city looked to the hill stations like Manali in India, with a rapidly flowing river fed by the melting glaciers amidst snow covered peaks. Since we were about a month away from Christmas, there were Christmas markets all around the city-in total six of them. We went about these markets, trying out the local delicacies, especially “Currywurst met pommes” (Sausages in curry with French fries) and Gluhwein (hot wine mixed with honey and spices).
Apart from all the Christmas festivities, Innsbruck also has a lot of cultural history. We visited one of its most famous landmarks-Goldenes Dachl, loosely translated as the Golden Roof. In ancient times, the Emperor of the land could watch tournaments and other performances going on in the square below from his position. We were lucky to witness a performance of an orchestra from this roof while doing some Christmas shopping.
All things must come to an end, and this happened with us too. Soon we realized that it was time to leave and go back to our hectic lives in the Netherlands. All in all, it was a good trip and one that we all deserved given the amount of work we had put in the last few months.
When things go wrong as they sometimes will;
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill;
When the funds are low and the debts are high;
And you want to smile but you have to sigh.
When all is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Success is failure turned inside out;
The silver tint on the clouds of doubt;
And you can never tell how close you are;
It may be near when it seems far.
So stick to the fight when you are hardest hit;
It’s when things go wrong that you must not quit.
I am not a big fan of self-help books, but after hearing a lot about Robin Sharma and his work, I decided to give his best known book-The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari- a try.
Written in an easy to understand prose, the book is all about following simple guidelines that can help you transform your life towards the positive. The author tells the story of a workaholic lawyer, who although achieves great heights in his career, neglects his health which leads him to have a heart attack. The protagonist then travels to India where the mystical saints in the Himalayas teach him some simple rules to live a meaningful life.
The rules are told in the form of a story where in a green field consisting of a lighthouse, a giant sumo wrestler with a pink wire rope around his waist stumbles and falls on a gold stopwatch. His hand touches some flowers and he sees a path of diamonds ahead. Each element of this story represents a part of life that has to be modified to make it more meaningful. The garden represents the mind which needs to be full of positive thoughts in order to be nurtured. Enter one negative thought (or weed), and the corruption of the mind begins.
The lighthouse represents that life should have a purpose. The author suggests to write down the things that make us happy and to act on them. Lots of people have dreams, but somewhere along the line, those dreams are forgotten. Once you set a deadline to your dreams, they become a goal and that is what the author tries to convey through the analogy of a lighthouse.
The sumo wrestler represents the process of self-improvement or kaizen. After determining your life’s purpose and trying to work towards it, it is essential to continuously monitor and improve the performance so that we get better with each passing day. This is achieved through sheer willpower and perseverance and that is the essence of the pink wire string attached to the wrestler’s waist. Each strand of the string represents some work that has gone into reaching the goal that will fulfil the life’s purpose.
The gold watch on which the wrestler stumbles conveys the message that time waits for no one. So rather than focussing on the future or reminiscing about the past, it is always better to divert all attention to the present and make the most of it. The flowers in the field ask us to do good to the society and be kind to others because a part of our deeds rubs off on us. The path of diamonds at the end tells us that if we follow these principles, we would lead a life that will help us reach our goal.
Robin Sharma teaches us the recipe to lead a meaningful life in the form of a simple story-one that will resonate with us for times to come. This book is an essential read for all those who are struggling to find meaning in their lives or need to find a purpose. I would urge everyone to read the book and practice what has been written down. I already started today. Have you?
This week I completed 1000 visitors on my blog, taking me exactly two years to reach the mark. When I started the blog back in 2015, I sought it as a means to escape the monotony of office life. I was doing a 9 to 5 job, and after coming back from work, I used to feel a bit empty, like something was amiss. I had to do something which could break the monotony. Having always been fond of books since my childhood, I decided to take up blogging. In a way, this was a means to escape the dreariness of office life, and also a means to do something that was really close to my heart.
Since I was not a big poetry writer, I decided to write reviews of books that I had read. At the time, I was reading a lot of spy novels- particularly those of John le Carre-with the effect that you will see quite a lot of his books under my book review section. After writing a couple of blogs about reviews, I decided to take up writing original short stories. Among the couple of those that I have written, ‘The Operation’ remains the closest to my heart. I have always been a fan of some melancholic stories where the protagonist finds success just around the corner but feels unable to reach it. That is what I have tried to portray through my short stories.
Now, 95 blog posts and around a 1000 visitors later, I know that blogging is not as easy as it sounds. The phrase ‘Content is King’ has never ringed truer than now. It is ultimately your content that matters, apart from the timing of your blog posts. Always review the insight section of your blog to find out which tags and categories have received the maximum number of hits and also the time when the readers read your blog posts the most. In my case, most of my readers are from the USA, so I tend to post the blogs in the afternoon during the weekends (I live in the Netherlands currently) so that my readers find my post at the top when they log in first thing in the morning. So the advice would be to post quality content and to post it regularly.
Apart from content and timing, what is required is patience. If you start blogging thinking that you will reach a thousand followers in a week or a month, then that is highly unlikely. People will only stick around if the content is good. My advice would be to never give up and continue churning out one good blog post after another. Once you write them, send them around to your friends and publicize it on social media. Because the more feedback you receive, the better the motivation to continue writing.
This was my story about the first thousand visitors to my blog. What’s yours?