#InspiringAchievHERs: Manjulika Pramod

This lady, Manjulika, is very close to my heart.

Now that is a very cheesy line to start off the post but that is what it is!

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I met Manjulika when I just started off with being an influencer, thanks to this li’l blog of mine. I met her in Goa and we kicked off really well. The more I got to know her, the more I was inspired by her passion to write.

Years passed by and we would randomly talk sometime or just meet at various social events. While she took her passion very seriously, I was so much engrossed in the rock bottoms of my life that blogging took a back seat. Soon enough I realized that I need to get back to blogging because that keeps me sane. And when I returned, I saw Manjulika traveling all around the globe and leaving a mark. And that is when I realized that if you have to achieve your dreams the amount of investment of your efforts and time is too damn high!

Looking at her blog keeps me going. She is my girl next door, who inspires me every day!

When I decided to interview her, I knew that it’s going to be a good learning experience. When you read her answers, you would realize that she is probably one of the most practical and realistic people you will ever come across. This is an honest and elaborated interview which is surely going to leave a mark!

Question: No matter how enticing it may sound, but it is always a tough decision to leave a well paying and stable job to pursue your dream. How was it for you? What was your motivation

Manjulika: I would be lying if I said that leaving a well-paying job as a Telecom Engineer was not painful because I grew up as an ambitious student and always wanted to make a mark in the corporate world. It came as a shock to me when the thought of leaving job began to trouble me every day and one day, I resigned. The decision was a personal one and there were many factors that led to it but I am glad that blogging gave me the strength to stand by my decision. My parents were shocked but my husband was supportive. There has not been a day when I have regretted it because I was not enjoying my job at all. I felt wasted every day. Except for the salary, there was nothing that was inspiring me to return to office while blogging had opened up new and exciting avenues. When I had started my first blog in 2008, I had never expected that blogging would change the course of my life. My motivation comes from penning down stories on my blog which is called –PENDOWN.

Question: Being a blogger is still not a real “job” in India, or anywhere for that matter. It is definitely a struggle to maintain your dignity. How has been the struggle for you so far? Is the struggle over yet?

Manjulika: Oh yes, it is a struggle in India but it is gaining momentum. I still find it hard to explain to people why I visit restaurants for review, why I attend certain social events, why I travel with my laptop everywhere, why I promote things or brands on my social media platforms and many whys. Blogging has no defined dimensions and thus it is still not taken as a serious job. But I feel it is all worth it as long as I enjoy doing it and my urge to find interesting stories is met. Everything about blogging is not lucrative but it will become one day. I do a lot of paid assignments too and there isn’t a month when I don’t earn but the earnings are not stable yet. There is no fixed salary to meet all my ends, however, the trips that I get to be part of or the experiences that I get to live are absolutely incomparable. 

Question: And being a woman, how hard was the struggle?

Manjulika: Honestly, being a woman, in this case, has been helpful. This may sound weird but the truth is that it is very difficult for a man to give up his job and say that I want to blog and earn. Our society will make him feel guilty. As a married female, it was easier for me because I had my husband looking after the bread and butter and together, we did not let anyone else question me that why I wanted to blog or go on trips with a different set of people every month or why I was giving up on my job. It was a mutual decision and a choice driven by passion. But yes, I wouldn’t deny the peer pressure, the questions that relatives and people in the neighborhood ask. Friends and family never shy in saying, ‘you have a great life.’ A very few have told me we know how hard you work and we are inspired by your choice of following your passion. The reason is that a lot of people still don’t know what blogging is, they don’t acknowledge blogging as work and not many know how hard it is to do something like this. The biggest struggle has been to prove it to those who matter because of somewhere even they have expectations. They want me to succeed. Like my parents want to see me as a writer. They are curious about my blogging assignments

Question: By the above question, I meant if you had to really break some gender stereotypes?

Manjulika: Gender stereotypes! Well, I remember when my blog had won me a trip to OMAN and I had traveled there with two guys, one of them had casually mentioned to me. I think you have a cool family where they allowed you to travel with two guys. Until then it had never struck me but yes I think somewhere people do think that too much traveling is not a girl’s job or females should only travel with other females. As a travel blogger, I travel with boys, girls, men, and women and of all ages. On some of the bad days, I am made to realize that I am a married woman and I should concentrate on having kids rather than running around here and there. People tell me to rest and take a break when I have just discovered my wings. But I am glad at least people acknowledge that I have work and it keeps me busy. 

Question: Social norms and your career choice – How did you cope up with all of it? (Log kya kahengey?!)

Manjulika: Log kya kahenge toh dimaag mei tha but I didn’t bother much. I think everyone is busy in cities so even though people want to throw nasty questions at each other, they don’t get time for this. Here and there, people do ask me how it feels to lose my financial independence, do I earn as much as before or when will I start saying that blogging is lucrative. I answer it honestly. I say I have no qualms about asking money from my husband or father when I need it. Thankfully, I have not felt the need to do so far. Rest, they have been extremely supportive even without saying. And it not that I don’t earn. But yes, sometimes it does affect me when I see that bloggers are not getting the right share or the right amount of money. Who doesn’t want to earn? So I am still waiting to reach a certain level but I am very selective about my choices. I don’t end up doing everything as a social media influencer. 

Question: Travelling is a dream for almost all. You are living your dream – that is what it seems to all of your readers. What all goes into making your journey look effortless?

Manjulika:  I never started as a travel blogger. I was someone who started as a book and food reviewer. In fact, I would write everything and anything that exhausted my emotions. From television to cleanliness to driving, I was writing about everything except travel. I loved taking part in blogging contests and there I won a lot of them. I got to travel to 3 countries over a period of 6 months and it changed me as a person. In addition, I was traveling a lot with my husband too so I had a lot of stories to tell. Thus travel blogging happened. Honestly, I am not a born traveler, I am not an adventure freak nor I travel to prove something to anybody. I travel for myself. I enjoy simple aspects of travel. I love the thrill of discovering new places and I am never in a hurry to do everything at any place. I do not rate any place as bad or not my type. I simply want to inspire people to travel because I feel it teaches you a lot. I have evolved so much as a person only when I saw the world outside my home, my city. Everything comes effortlessly to me because I have never tried to be like anyone or have never tried to be a traveler of any kind. I have nothing to do with solo, group or couple travel. For me, travel means to go to another place. I confess I am a comfort-seeking as well as a curious traveler just like any other person. Culture, art, heritage attracts me and I love traveling for that. I am not a dreamy person, I don’t have a bucket list. I am good with everything that comes my way because I believe that I haven’t seen much yet. 

Question: What is it like to be a one-woman-army?

Manjulika: One woman army is taking a toll on me. I have not even become a pro in handling all my social media accounts. Someday, I am active on Facebook, sometimes, twitter, else it’s Instagram. What I liked doing seriously like about my work is blogging. As a blogger, social media influencer, wife, daughter and more, it becomes difficult to juggle especially because when you work from home, you can’t ignore certain things which are happening around you at home. When you are in office, you can put your mind off the things that are troubling you at home but you can’t when you freelance from your house. I am not able to do so many things that I want to do for the blog because I am not left with time. I travel and then come back and write my stories, catch up on the lost family time and more. Rather, I have been looking forward to learning photography but I have not been able to evolve. I hope I start earning much more so that I can afford to expand my time. 

Question: We all have our bad days at work. What keeps you going during those days?

Manjulika: Bad days keep coming and dissolving. If they weren’t there, we wouldn’t appreciate the good days. With blogging, the bad days are only when you lose certain projects that you really wanted to do when I get ill or I am too tired that I am not able to deliver on time. On some days, I have to deny opportunities of traveling because I am engaged with some other assignment, so that pains me else, I don’t think I have had too many bad days. If I am not able to concentrate or things around me are disturbing, I get irked. To face it all, I try and sit down to blog. My love for blogging keeps me going. I remind myself of all the beautiful things that my blog has given me. And once I sit down to write and publish something that I want to share, I feel happy again. 

Question: Message for aspiring blogger?

Manjulika: There is no shortcut to blogging. No one starts getting opportunities from day one. Focus on building a style, a brand. Work on the statistics of the blog rather than buying a fake number of followers. And be passionate about discovering new stories and telling it to the world. 

Don’t jump into the decision of quitting your job by getting influenced by others. And if you really want to do it, start working towards it. Take a year to prepare and cut down your expenses. Do your travels on weekends and see what you enjoy and what you don’t. Start doing some freelancing work or diverting your time towards your passion. You must make some money before you say goodbyes to your monthly paycheques. If you really feel that your priority is to travel and you have achieved a balance in life, then just go ahead. The salary cut down isn’t easy to handle so everyone must be prepared for it. You will not regret only when you are fully prepared to face the consequences. So I wouldn’t say don’t follow your passion but be ready to work really hard. Remember, you need money to travel too. Though I know I am not going back to my regular job, it needs a lot of courage to hold on to the thought that traveling for passion will become lucrative someday.

I really wish that this conversation did not end because each of her instances is so true and one can relate to so easily! Once you read her blog, you will see her achievements as a person in terms of experiences is many of us dream of! She is an inspiration, isn’t she?


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