Today we talk to Shivani, an army wife and an army brat who runs her travel blog Hobogobo, whilst moving all over India!
How has army life treating you? If possible could you tell us about some of the places in India where you have moved to.
Army life is the only way of life that I truly know as my father was in the army as well. Having said that, contrary to most people’s belief, life as an army kid and an army wife are very different. In fact, sometimes its more difficult for an army kid to adjust to the newfound expectations after she marries an army officer.
We have been married for 5.5 years and have been posted to Ambala, Jaisalmer and Leh out of which we have setup houses in Ambala and Jaisalmer.
Which of these places have you enjoyed the most and why?
I enjoyed both places equally as we got a chance to stay together for a couple of months. Ambala was a great city to start a ‘grahisti’ owing to its wholesale plastic market and export surplus home furnishing shops. Jaisalmer is a tourist destination where you can sample cuisines from all over the world in the tourist season. Fancy, Korean food? Worry not, Jaisalmer has an authentic Korean restaurant run by a Korean lady !
How many times have you moved house since you married?
In 5.5 years, I have moved and setup 3 houses not counting all the in-between scenarios where we have moved for courses and where my parents and in laws houses have been my abode for several months. Mind you, in setting up these 3 houses, we have managed to stay together only for about a year.
Have you been able to keep in touch with friends made along the way?
Yes, I believe in making friends for life. In todays age of telecommunication, social media and whatsapp, there is no excuse for you to not keep in touch. Moreover, the army is one big family in a small world, you keep meeting each other at courses and get togethers.
How does it feel living this “nomad” kind of life? How different is it from everyone else’s? Which one would you have preferred?
It has its ups and downs. I love travelling so I take it in my stride but there are sacrifices that one must make. Staying together for not even 1/5th of the times you’ve been married says a lot about the nomadic life we live. The heart might grow fonder but the brain definitely stresses out.
Moreover, there is a lot of uncertainty in plans which makes it difficult for the wife to live away and have a 5 year or even a 5 month plan for that matter. Having said that, not everyone in the army lives like that. I know quite a few families that have managed to stay together all their lives after getting married.
Military life is completely different from anyone else’s. 90% of times it’s in someone else’s hand- you don’t make the decisions, the buck doesn’t stop at you. All you can do is plan and wait for the plan to be foiled, then plan again and again till something happens. Experience has taught me to have a plan A, B, C & D.
About preference, I know no other life so will not comment. Different lifestyles have their unique challenges and most often than not, the grass only seems greener on the other side. I believe in living life in the moment rather than mulling over what could have been ! Que sera sera.
For how long have you been blogging? How did you begin blogging? Please share your journey – ups and downs.
I first started blogging in 2010 where it was just a personal blog with both travel and personal articles. It was mainly for the consumption of friends or to share travel information with people who asked. Serious blogging started in 2012 where I separated my travel blog to Hobogobo and everything else to ShivaniGarg.co
I started my career in advertising and them moved on to a digital startup where I handled everything from copywriting to graphics to sometimes interacting with clients directly. I learned wordpress and website designing on the job and then added SEO to my skill set. Once I got married and shifted bases I used the knowledge for my own blogging endeavours and here I am !
Your genre of blogging is travelling. How did you decide this niche?
HoboGobo specifically caters to the travel niche and this was something that came very naturally to me. Photography and travelling is a my life’s chi (qi). It focuses my energies and makes me alive. The term ‘HOBOGOBO’ is also an amalgamation of these two passions – travel and photography where a ‘hobo’ is a nomad or someone who is location independent like me and ‘gobo’ is a device used it photography to control light.
So many army wives are becoming authors/bloggers why do you think this trend is picking up?
No lemonade taste as good as the one made from the lemons that life gives you and no one knows that better than the Army wife. Apart from the fact, that being an Author or Blogger gives you a chance to work remotely, I think an army wife has so many different experiences and interactions with local people of the little towns she moves to as well as the officers and wives around her from all over India. My experience has taught me that while everyone is so different from each other, we all feel the same emotions and are the same people, really ! As an author, I can put that understanding to great use.
An army wife is resourceful. She has nothing but problems around her and no magic wand to solve them so it’s natural that she becomes a problem solver. She plans, budgets, orders, tries, opines, inspires and shares her experiences with others in the same boat. This is exactly what a blogger does ! A blogger is a thought / activity leader who is one of the first to try things and share their experiences to either inspire or caution others. So there you have it, an army life teaches you all these things and some of us put these to use as authors and bloggers.
Does packing, moving and unpacking still seem like a daunting task to you?
I am an army brat before being an army wife so packing, moving and unpacking has never been a daunting task for me. In fact, I handled the whole task in our first home after getting married as my husband had no time ! He still hears about it because in fact, it’s his job and not mine. But since the first time and after having shifted so many houses, I let him do the dirty work most of the times 😉
Before learning about EZMove, how did you choose a particular Packers and movers? How has your experience been with them? Would you be willing to try EZMove for your next move?
We are pretty efficient at packing by ourselves so I have not been able to use the services of packers and movers other than one time when we called them to pack our fridge and ac. It was a local packer and mover and we could have done a better job. I have also heard about horror stories of Agarwal packers and movers smuggling drugs in the truck that had the stuff of an Air Force officer.
I could definitely try EZMove especially after a 6 month old taking up most of my time now. But in order to do that, you will have to show me your trial services as I’m quite wary of Packers & Movers.
Do you have any funny anecdote or hilarious moving story?
Oh I have so many but I’ll choose to share this particular one, in the hope that someone who matters will read it 😉
In the past 5.5 years, I have set up homes twice in the same station as my husband and stayed in each house for 4-5 months ! In the 4.5 years that we have stayed away, we have not been given a separated family accommodation because I am a Delhi girl and Delhi area feels we are way too independent to require one (sniggers sarcastically). So anyways, the only option I had was to rent a civil house or stay with parents, I chose the former even though the rent was 25K and the HRA one gets is 9K (what many people do not know is that one pays tax on the HRA as well).
So all in all, it’s pretty hilarious to realise that an army wife is sometimes expected to pay a big price to both stay with and without the husband!
“Ek taraf kuan, to doosri taraf khai”. That’s the army life in a nutshell.
Lastly, since you are a moving pro, could you share a few tips or tricks with our readers?
Start the process a month before you intend to shift. Make lists in your head about the things you need till the end, and what can go right now. Usually, its the kitchen that gets packed in the end and the home decor that goes first. Line your boxes with waterproof material because sometimes you dont know after how long they are going to be opened. Source and sun dry some neem leaves to line your carpets and other linen to prevent pests.
Loved Shivani’s candid views! We at EZmove, wish her all the best for her blogging journey!