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What was the Best Thing to Happen to You Last Year? #blogging

By 04/01/2019April 24th, 2020blogging, reading
meeting online friends offline

Happy New Year, everyone!

2018 was a mixed year for me. I suffered personal losses and ill health, got involved in family issues, did not read as much as I wanted to.

It did have its highlights though–and one of them was my India trip in November. I volunteered at Project WHY, helped fundraise with other bloggers, worked in Mumbai for research, and hung out in Bangalore with friends and bookish people.

The very best thing?

That has to be meeting so many of my online friends in real life. In Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, I met a bunch of cool folk who I’d earlier met via their blogs alone.

In Delhi,  I met Shalini Baisiwala, Geethica Mehra, Kalpanaa Misra, Ishieta Chopra, Natasha Sinha, Shinjhini Mehrotra.

In Mumbai, Shilpa Halwe, Aesha Shah, Priya Bajpai, Anshu Bhojnagarwala, Kala Ravi Sarathy, Sunita Rajwade, Sanchie Vee.

In Bangalore, Ramya Rao, Apeksha Rao, Vinay, Rachana Srivastava Parmar, Esha Mukherjee Dutta, Shailaja Vishwanath, Parul Kashyap Thakur, Soumya Prasad.

To those who were not at the meetings, this might sound like a boring old list of names, but I was fortunate enough to be at all those meets, and I can tell you what it felt like.

Like meeting old friends you’re meeting for the first time!

That might sound like a weird anachronism and oxymoron (are you confused yet?), but that’s the best way I can describe it.

I’ve met online friends before who have turned offline friends, but never has the experience been so overwhelming, and so overwhelmingly positive. I met some of these new old-friends-new-friends individually (some more than once, in different cities–I’m looking at Sanchie, Shailaja, Apeksha, Vinay, Shalini), some in groups of two or three, others in groups of six or seven, with lots of good food, laughter, and um, drink! Chatter, lots of chatter: about books, blogs, food, life, kids. I even made a delightful friend in Gy, who features a lot on her mother Shailaja’s site. I was bestowed with gifts, hugs, wisdom, and love–oodles of it, spades of it, bucketloads, really. I’m thankful, because I was fragile last year, and needed it all.

With so many of these friends, it felt like we could keep chatting for hours–the online connection seamlessly translated offline.

This experience has inspired me to take on other journeys, visit more cities, in India and further afield.

In the last ten years of blogging, I’ve made SO MANY FRIENDS.

I’ve always thought of them as real friends– this time I was able to make myself real to them as well. I’m not great at photos, and try not to flinch most of the time, but here are a few.

What was the best thing that happened to you last year? How many of your online friends have you met offline? Have you met any fellow-bloggers offline? What was the experience like? Would you do it again? What would you do differently? What city do you recommend I should visit next to meet my blogging family? Leave it all in the comments, please.


I co-host the monthly We Are the World Blogfest: I’d like to invite you to join, if you haven’t as yet, to post the last Friday of each month a snippet of positive news that shows our essential, beautiful humanity.

This monthly event has brought smiles on the faces of a lot of participants and their audiences, and somewhat restored their faith in humanity. Here’s a sampler. Click here to know more. We took a break for the holidays but will be back for the new year!  Sign up here and add your bit of cheer to the world on the next installment of January 25!

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – wonderful post and I totally endorse it … I’m so late … just slothful. I think the best thing you’ve done blog wise is set up the #WAWTB monthly postings highlighting empathetic work or ideas that others post up – I learn so much of world wide events … people, ideas … all that help others.

    Your blog is an inspiration to many of us – I love reading what you’re doing … so I hope this year is easier, more peaceful, less worrying for you and the family – take care and with lots of thoughts – Hilary

  • Damyanti, thanks so much for following my blog! I’m super excited to add you to my readers! ???


    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      You’re welcome, Tamara! Look forward to reading your posts.

      • I’m looking forward to finishing up a few I have up my sleeve! I also have a Resources page with over 50 helpful articles, all sectioned off by subjects!

        Hope you enjoy!

  • abhibishnu says:

    Quite nice to know that you met your online friends.I look forward to meeting a few of mine

  • macjam47 says:

    How wonderful that you met up with some of your blogging friends, Damyanti! These are real relationships and meeting in person takes us to a whole new level of friendship.
    The best thing that happened to me this year is my oldest son and his family moved back to the Cincinnati, Ohio area from Boston. They are now just minutes from where we live. With my youngest son and his family here, too, this mom is as happy as a lark.

  • -Eugenia says:

    It’s good to meet you and happy 2019! Thank you for following ThusNSuch.

  • aj vosse says:

    I suppose… if I have to take the whole year in review and choose one happening… it would be the stunning summer… we were often in the outdoors… loving and living life!!

  • For several years, I’ve been working long hours as a volunteer on a creek restoration. Earlier this year a talented man agreed to co-manage the project with me and other volunteers have stepped up to take this creek out of concrete and back to nature. I now enjoy the work and my comrades!

  • Utsav says:

    Hi Damyanti! Your article is very nice. Enjoyed reading! Thanks for voting for my posts on Indiblogger. I need a favour, can you? Can you please provide my blog link to your websites in order to get traffic to my blog. I started blog in November but didn’t get satisfied results. Can you please help me?

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Building up an audience takes time. Please keep writing good content and interact with various bloggers, leaving comments on their posts. Bloggers are a community.

      You can add a link to one of your posts on the linky list my latest post.

  • Shailaja V says:

    It was such joy meeting you, Damyanti. You brought the whole idea of online friends into the offline space and gave it such rich meaning. Meeting with Project Why was a special bonus. It was doubly lovely to meet with you twice in under a month and Gy was beyond delighted to be there for both occasions.

    I wish you a lovely 2019 and also all the best for your book this year. Cannot wait!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Likewise, Shailaja. I enjoyed meeting Gy as well, and pls tell her she should expect a package in the mail!

      Project Why has been a source of healing for a long time, I’m just glad I was able to share my passion with you. Thank you for your support, and for the wisdom that you share so freely.

      Happy 2019 to you and Gy!!

  • Seems you had a good time in India. I missed my visit to India by a whisker and plan in the following months to spend a longer time. There were goods like more work on the professional front and making new friends while challenges remained a minor surgery and another health issue. I will try to learn driving this year and hope I am able to, of course meeting new people. Have a blissful year.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Hi Vishal! I’m going to be in India again soon, so hope to run into you! All the best with your resolutions and wish you a blessed 2019!

  • Damyanti,

    I’m not sure if this is my first-time visiting but I think it is. I noticed you left comment just below me on Debbie’s blog (The Doglady’s Den). Anyway, I think 2018 was a mix year for many. I know it was for me, as well. I think the best part was being apart of my granddaughter’s birth. Angelina’s arrival will be forever ingrained in my memory like a ray of sunshine. Totally amazing experience! I’m eager for better things to come throughout this year and I hope the very best for you, as well. Happy blogging and happy new year!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Hi Cathy, and welcome to Daily (w)rite! Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment.

      Being a part of your grand-daughter’s birth is indeed a remarkable and very joyful event. I wish you happy decades watching her grow, and of course a lovely 2019.

  • That’s sweet. It reminds me when I was a kid and a CB radio user (see 1970s!). A pal of mine and I went to meet two “good buddies” (CB lingo for radio acquaintances) at a donut shop in the far end of town. We were so young we didn’t drive but took the subway and bus. Turns out our CB friends were much older than us, like in their early-to-mid 20s while we were about 12 or 13 yrs! Awkward. I was shy but my outgoing friend pulled off the chatting. 🙂

  • Modern Gypsy says:

    It was such a pleasure to meet you, Damyanti! And it sure didn’t feel like we were meeting for the first time! I look forward to future visits and to meeting you again – soon, hopefully! xx

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    I want to to meet the whole gang one day. How fortunate for all of you to know each other in the real world too. ? I hope our paths cross someday too. 2018 was a year of meeting some major life goals… It was like seeing my 10 year plan come to life. Overwhelming but happy ?

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      SO glad you made your life goals happen!

      I hope we meet soon, too. We should have a bloggers meet–organised all by ourselves, and held once a year!

  • Joh says:

    I’m so glad you were able to find the good among the bad! It was definitely a rough year, but, after a decade, I finally got my BA. I’d have to say that and finishing the first draft of a book I’ve been writing for a while now are the accomplishments I’m most proud of.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      WOW. Those are amazing accomplishments and you ought to be proud of them! Have a good 2019 ahead, and may you continue to blaze trails.

  • I’m really glad our paths crossed – even if it was four times! 😀 It was great to meet you and learn so much more about you. I do love the blogging community and more so, when it’s taken offline as well

  • Mayuri6 says:

    Your pictures at your meetups were such a delight, Damyanti! Meeting people one interacts with online is always so special. I am glad you introduced us to Project WHY, as being part of it felt good. Wishing you more friends and more travel, and a hope that we meet in 2019.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I tend to get very animated when speaking about Project Why and my pics are quite funny as a result!

      So happy you’re part of the Project Why family now—-the fundraiser was a success because you and everyone else pitched in with posts, social media, and contributions!

  • Parul Thakur says:

    The concept of online friends started with blogging for me. These online friends would support me, encourage me and understand me. When I started meeting them, it was great. Exactly like how you felt. Overwhelmed with joy and the love. I credit blogging to give me so many friends.
    It was lovely meeting you Damyanti. Did not feel it was the first time.

    • Damyanti says:

      We’re blessed to have such excellent blog friends! Didn’t feel like I was meeting you for the first time either: will be checking out your road trip posts!!

      Have a great new year and hope to see you again soon 🙂

  • JT Twissel says:

    We had so many fires here in California and so many people suffered that I would never want to relive 2018. I did enjoy visiting Canada and spending July 4th at our small town parade. Small things but they did provide a bright spot in a dark year.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      So, so sorry to hear that. I hope things get better in your part of the world soon.

      2018 was an year of loss for me too: I lost two people in my family and that was hard to deal with. But you’re right, we need to find the bright spots, and in 2018, this trip was my bright spot.

  • Jemima Pett says:

    I’m lucky to count you as a friend, and if you ever get to England (or even France and I’d travel there!) it would be lovely to meet you. I was honoured to be mentioned by a blogging friend in her review of 2018, and it’s great that these friendships can become real for us!
    Happy 2019, Damyanti, and I hope lots of good things help you through it!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I was in England in both 2016 and 2017: next time I’ll make sure to get in touch with you Jemima. It’s been awesome working with you long distance and I’m so glad we’ve kept in touch!

      Have a great new year, and I look forward to reading more from you.

  • I’m with you on the online friends. I’m amazed how enriched I am by these relationships.

    Love your new blog design.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks! I’m glad you think the design works.

      Some day, I’d love to meet you offline as well, and learn truckloads on writing!

  • I haven’t meet any of my online friends in real last year but i’m looking forwards to meet them in 2019 if the destiny allows us. I’m very happy in 2018 i have discover many good friends through online who share the same passion as i do, and talking with them even in offline was a pleasant experience.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Online friends can be just as fun and fulfilling to have as those offline. Hope you get to meet more online friends in real life soon.

  • swalia says:

    Meeting online friends in reality is a lovely experience. You seem to have made quite a number of friends in the blogging community. Wish you lots of joy and happiness in 2019!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thank you, welcome to Daily (w)rite, and wish you a happy 2019 as well! I’m blessed with good friends in the blog world–the kindness of this community has kept me going on this blog for all these years.

  • Shalzmojo says:

    Hello Gorgeous!! What a very “YOU” type post this is 🙂 Totally loved it and am so humbled by the love and mention! The feeling is equally reciprocated and I cant wait to see you again! Hope you can plan a trip soonest and since Delhi is home to PY – I am hoping you will not be skipping it!! XOXO

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Shalini :). I didn’t know I had a type!

      You know you’re loved. Just hang in there, and love yourself a little harder.

      Take care of you, and of course whenever I stop by Delhi, I shall make a pit stop!

  • Peter Nena says:

    Sorry about my last comment. I must have pressed “Post Comment” by mistake. I was saying that I have only met some of my blogging friends from Nairobi, although I would love to meet many others from other parts of the world.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Someday, I shall be in Nairobi, and would love to meet you!

      Quite bummed that I couldn’t meet Sharukh this trip to Mumbai.

  • Peter Nena says:

    Happy new year to you too, Damyanti. I have only met some of my blogging friends fr

  • rolandclarke says:

    Happy 2019 and blessings, Damyanti. How about Jaipur or Cochin…or Kandy?

    The only online blogger friend I’ve met was before I blogged as one of my work associates is now a writer like me. Strangely, two of my online-blogging friends live in the same city, but we have yet to meet.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I do plan Jaipur next year, and Cochin, as well, surprisingly. Kandy is in Sri Lanka?

      • I should have said Kandy in Sri Lanka – sorry. I wasn’t sure how far in the sub-continent you were planning to travel. (I know you have been to Sri Lanka – the Sigirya photos.)

        • Damyanti Biswas says:

          I plan to travel absolute continents now. And yep, I’ve been to Sri Lanka, and posted about it on this blog.

  • mitchteemley says:

    Sorry to hear about the disappointments and difficulties, but delighted to hear about new/enhanced friendships and success with Project WHY. Happy New Year, Damyanti!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for your kind words. Project WHY has been a lifeline, providing me with just the love and healing I needed. Happy New Year to you as well, and it is good to see you here!

  • Meeting new friends through blogging and social media, and able to encourage each other!

  • The best thing that happened to me in 2018? Taking some time off from blogging to live mindfully! The lessons I learned plus the extra quality time with my family was so worth it!!

    I jumped back in with a new article full of great links to past articles chock full of helpful ideas to get your New Year rocking!! I hope you enjoy it:

    My goal for 2019 is to add more articles and write more about the new lessons I learned!


    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks for sharing the link, and have a happy, productive, new year ahead!

      • Sounds good to me!

        I think you’re very blessed to have so many talented bloggers living near you and to have been able to meet them in person! I’m trying to imagine what it would be like to be able to meet bloggers in my city (originally from Montreal QC, but now in St. Louis MO) and to be able to go out to coffee with them!

        Project WHY sounds like it has done some amazing things for both you and the larger community! Kudos for getting involved in such a great cause!

        Wishing many blessings to you and to your readers for this New Year!


        • Damyanti Biswas says:

          Tamara, I live in Singapore and the friends I met were in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, which are cities in India—a ton of flying was involved, but I was doing it for work and volunteers reasons so I was glad I could meet my friends at the same time.

          Project Why is a miracle worker: my first novel came out of some of my experiences with this beautiful place and the teachers and kids there are some of the best I’ve ever worked with. Love them to the moon and back.

          • Tamara says:

            Wow! That’s so amazing that you got together with your blogging friends!! I’m so inspired! I love that your paid and volunteer work led you into a novel! That’s so cool! Many blessings to you!!

  • Laura Beth says:

    What a great experience for you! The biggest accomplishment for me was reaching, and surpassing, 50,000 words for my 2012 WIP. It happened on New Year’s Eve, and I was so excited! I’m not done with the story, but overcoming that massive hurdle was huge for me!

  • Its always very exciting to meet online friends in real life, though never happened with me but i wish.

  • So good to really meet as often there is so much in common and those that follow well know so much about each other’s lives and passions. In the U.K. there is a bloggers bash each year. Am thinking about it as hope not such a busy year!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      You Must go! I discovered that so many of my friends from my blog are exactly as cool as their blogs!

  • That’s amazing you were able to meet so many! I’m part of the Dragon Fellowship, a blogging-email group, and we’ve talked about meeting. We even know whose house we’d show up at because she’s the most central.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I was lucky to have met them all!
      About your Dragon Fellowship, I recommend a meeting sooner rather than later–after my trip this time, I wondered why I hadn’t done it earlier!

  • Widdershins says:

    I facetiously want to say, ‘1st January 2019!’ … actually apart from turning 60, and writing my next book from start to finish, the best thing that happened was 1st January 2019. 😀

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      All causes for celebration! Belated Happy Birthday, congratulations, and Happy New Year 🙂

  • Natasha says:

    D, I’m so glad we connected this year. And yes, it felt as though we had known each other for the longest.

    Thank you for inspiring us with your relentless dedication for writing and commitment towards Project Why.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      I know, right? It was like meeting a soul sister from another life. That afternoon with you girls was magical. I’m just muddling along– if inspiration is the byproduct, I’m happy about that, but take no credit. All of the inspiration and credit belongs to Anoudi, and Project WHY.

  • Anouradha Bakshi says:

    It was lovely and blessed to have you with us at Project Why and to have the fundraiser and thus meet so many new people virtually and in person. Feel blessed

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Anoudi, you’re the blessing in my life. Thanks to you, I’ve learned to work for those I do not know, for no personal benefit other than trying to be a little candle in the overwhelming darkness. Love you.

  • I am so glad we met too, albeit still virtually, Damyanti, but I our interactions during your visit we came so much closer. Hugs and thanks for being you. ♥

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thank YOU for being you, and for holding my hand throughout the trip. One of my destinations next trip is you, hope you know that.

  • Rachna says:

    It was really such a lovely afternoon, Damyanti, that we spent together. Fun and chatter, so nice to meet you in person. Really online to offline was incredibly smooth. One of the biggest gifts of blogging for me is making friends! Happy New Year! Hope to meet you again soon.

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Happy New Year, and i agree with you! It was one of those meetings where I wanted everyone to just stay on. You guys are a joy to listen to! See you again in Bangalore. Or Singapore?

  • writershilpa says:

    It was lovely meeting you, D! And, now, I can’t imagine how I thought about you as some ‘big shot writer who gave me a serious complex’!! ????

    Would love to meet you again and again..
    Lots of love and tight hugs!

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      So you don’t think I’m a big shot writer? huh, huh, huh?

      I shall fly in and give you some serious complex in Navi Mumbai next…no one other than Cookie would ever get a word in edgeways, just watch 😀

      On a more serious note, looks like I need to work on my online personality!

  • BellyBytes says:

    This is one comment where #MeToo will be a positive repsonse! I too had two wonderful meetings with my virtual friends and they have inspired me to be more interactive with those I meet in the blogosphere. I truly appreciate the time you took out of your busy schedule to meet us in Mumbai. Now I am looking forward to reading the outcome of your interesting background research…..

    • Damyanti Biswas says:

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Sunita! I was very happy to have met you, Shalini, Shilpa and Sanch that day and was sorry my research work carried me away from all of you. I’m working on the material right now, so hopefully, I’ll have something for you soon!