Up, Close and Personal with Anindya S Basu, travel and food blogger with many accolades!
When you can tell stories with words and pictures, what better way than to document your travel experiences and share it with people. This is one of the key strengths of Anindya S Basu, travel and food blogger from Kolkata, who is a marvelous photographer as well. His blog, Pikturenama has recently been awarded the Best Travel Blog in India by IndiBlogger. His blog is full of travel information, amazing destination, food images and a lot more.
Anindya took out time from his busy schedule to talk to BananiVista about his life, his blog and many other aspects of his personality.
BV: Tell us something about Anindya as a person.
AB: This is the toughest one. Phew. In the reverse chronological order, I have my own business and blogging is my passion. I am an erstwhile Human Resource professional having worked in premium Corporates in India at Senior and Managerial levels. I grew up in a small suburb town of West Bengal named Chandannagore.
As an avid sports enthusiast, I love to play tennis and cricket. I also have a voracious reader in me (a habit that my parents had inculcated at a young age). I don’t believe in miracles, so I encourage and push myself to work harder every day, diligently and without any compromise. My love for music motivated me to take up Indian classical music in Sarod. The Hindi film music of the 90’s and Jagjit Singh’s Ghazals are my all time favourites.
BV: When and how did Pikturenama happen? How do you connect with your readers and followers?
AB: Pikturenama happened by accident. Some of the best things in life happen by accident. I traveled to Greece and Turkey in 2013. I had clicked some 3500 pictures but lost them as the storage device had crashed. The next year, I traveled to Nepal and after returning, I did not want to repeat the same mistake hence after converting and processing the raw files, I realized that I was sitting with some beautiful clicks. I was posting the pictures on Facebook and other photo sharing medium but realized that I am unable to express and share my stories associated with the photographs. How about a place which will be my personal space and will only have my pictures and stories? How about a place which will be an extension of me? The thought provoked me and this was how Pikturenama was born in August/September 2014. It was initially hosted on WordPress and now it is self-hosted.
I share my stories and also quite interested in listening to stories from others; hence I always engage in a two-way conversation with them. I think it’s easy to connect with people over food and travel as these are two aspects which every human experiences in whatever capacity possible. Who doesn’t like to travel and explore new places or relish good food?
BV: How would you describe or categorize your blog? Tell us something more about it and its achievements.
AB: It was within the 6 months of Pikturenama that the blog got featured as one of the blogs to look out for in Kolkata by Calcutta times and since then, time and again the accolades have kept on coming. The blog was featured as one of the best food blogs in the country by Social Samosa, as India’s top travel blogger in 2016 by Holidify, Rayna tours had picked up the blog as Indian Travel bloggers who inspire you to wanderlust and very recently as the Best Travel blog of the country by Indiblogger. My blog is all about stories woven with pictures; be it food or travel. I want to offer a virtual tour of the places where I travel or the food that I eat with the pictures along with the words.
BV: How do you manage your blog along with your regular work?
AB: I am an entrepreneur and have my own business. So while that gives a certain degree of flexibility, it also throws up a lot of challenges. Managing a blog along with a business is a big challenge and needs a lot of sacrifices. When I started, I never thought that I will get so addicted to this. I have dedicated time to writing, which is either in the morning or at night. Social media update, reading other blogs, planning for the next blog post is a daily ritual now.
BV: What are the challenges you face as a travel and food blogger? How do you cope with them?
AB: One of the biggest challenges of blogging is time, especially when it is not your primary profession. While travel blogging demands traveling, making time for travel while managing a family and a full-time job is difficult. Food blogging also has its own set of unique demands. Making time for attending food meets may sound interesting and gives you new experiences but maintaining health while eating out a lot, can be tricky. I never miss out on my tennis to balance the calories. As blogging is technology dependent and making your presence felt in any social media is mandatory, hence it becomes necessary keeping yourself updated with social media trends or changing faces/avenues of blogging. I keep myself updated with recent food or travel trends by reading others work which is a must. So I spend a good amount of time in reading others work and embracing new technologies.
BV: Where do you want to see your blog in the next couple of years?
AB: I started my blog to share my stories without any target in my mind. I wanted to share stories of my travel – local or international. In the last 3 years, I have shared my travel and food exploits which certainly developed a certain voice and writing style. I would like to measure the success of the blog in the coming years in terms of the quality of content which will be relevant and a true representation of the current trends of travel and food stories. Most of the times, when I write travel stories, I would like to write about an unknown aspect of the place and the locals of the place I travel to and share them with the world.
BV: Your advice for novice food and travel bloggers to build their network and promote their blog.
AB: There are no schools of blogging, neither there are any formal courses. It is a self-learning and self-taught process. So it can get laborious at times but there are few things which can keep one going. One should question oneself why did one start the blog? It is the reason for your starting the blog which will keep you moving. The initial days and the first 6 months will be crucial but once you will be on your own journey of self-discovery, no one can stop you. In fact, an appreciation from others will be an added advantage which will keep you motivated.
BV: Have you been able to monetize your blog? If yes, can you share some tips?
AB: I have never monetized my blog in terms of Adwords but have done several brand collaboration time and again. I have never consciously pitched in for my work but have always maintained the quality of the content and made an effort for a continuous improvement. Perhaps that is the reason why some brands prefer to work with Pikturenama.
1) 3 words that describe yourself and your family.
Fun, Friendly and Exciting
2) The best photograph clicked by you.
It will be very tough to pick up one photograph as the best photograph, as all the photographs taken by me are special to me.
However, the pictures of Varanasi and some of the photographs of Greece and Turkey are close to my heart.
3) The best travel destination according to you.
Internationally, Greece and Turkey will remain one of my favourites and a destination to revisit. Apart from this, I love Kathmandu for which my blog had started and in India, it is Delhi for its sheer diversity.
4) The best dish cooked by you.
This is the easiest. I have been fond of Kosha Mangsho or slow-cooked Bengali mutton curry which is a delicacy for Bengalis and my mama cooks the best in the world. I tried my hands on it once as a cook-off challenge with Dipali, our close friend from Delhi and that was the best.
5) A husband, A father, A blogger – which is the most challenging role and why.
Most of the times, I have to stretch myself to the extreme for just being a blogger and a father together. My wife Madhushree, who is also a cook and baker, food writer and food stylist and equal contributor to the blog, understands the same and has been a great support but juggling the time between the blogger and a father to 6-years old and a newborn (recently I have been blessed with a daughter) becomes challenging.
BananiVista wishes you many more milestones of success!