“We disagree mostly on everything related to cricket basically because we both often support different teams. I support Pakistan in cricket and although Nathan says he too supports it, his first team is, always, Sri Lanka. That creates many disagreements.”
NatNZin A.k.a Nathan and Zinara are a couple in their 20’s that travels around the Island and blogs about it! While Nathan takes breathtaking pictures, Zinara does the writing. They are basically relationship goals for all the rovers out there. Do check out their Instagram page and fall in love!
1.Tell us a bit about yourselves?
Zinara – I lived most of my life in the central highlands in Kandy. I’ve always been a person close to nature. Now I’m living in Colombo but always want to go back and escape to somewhere far away as soon as possible. I love cricket, mountains, chai and cats. Oh and, I’m much younger than most of y’all think.
Nathan – I lived majority of my life in Saudi Arabia. Contrary to popular belief about people hating the place, I loved it ‘cause for me it was all about cricket AND shawaramas 🙂
2.How did both of you get into travel and lifestyle blogging?
Zinara – Nathan always loved photographing things (people, places, food, you name it) he finds interesting and I always loved writing. One day, Nathan was like, we should start an Instagram and we are going to post nine photos per theme. “NO WAY! We aren’t going to find nine photos that suits one particular theme, always,” Yep, that was me. And we settled for three photos per theme and started our Instagram. After a month or two, we wanted to share our experiences and simply pen it down. So we started our blog.
3.What are some of the biggest illusions people have about travel & lifestyle blogs?
There are many but the main thing is that a lot of people believe, what they see on Instagram /blogs is, always true. It isn’t. It’s quite sadly to say that in order to increase numbers, people edit/over-edit their photos and often don’t bring out the reality of life and travel behind those images.
Also, we see a lot of Tumblr-ish quotes, and constantly on Instagram and then on a number of blogs about how they quit their jobs and travel the world. It’s as if you don’t quit your job and travel the world, you’ve become a failure in life. Let us tell you it isn’t. It’s absolutely okay to travel the way you want. Find what you enjoy and most comfortable with and these type of blog posts and quotes aren’t much relatable to people from third world/developing countries specially with a very bad passport like ours (unless you are a kid of rich parents of course.) Even some of the popular bloggers tell you that if your job lets you travel often, keep it. If you can quit your job and have enough money to go on continuous adventures, do it. Find what suits you the best and never ever think you are a failure.
4.What are your greatest personal accomplishments?
Zinara – I’m still in my early twenties and reading for my bachelors of arts in humanities. I don’t have many personal accomplishments but, when I decided to stop what I didn’t like – that was doing science in a state uni – and started all over again in arts, it to me, felt as I’ve accomplished something in life. Maybe it was the courage to quit what I didn’t like but my parents liked and therefore, forced me to do. I don’t blame my parents. I’m from an ordinary middle-class family. When I quit state uni, I had to work and earn by myself. And it somehow feels as a personal accomplishment – being independent in my very early twenties.
Nathan – The greatest accomplishment is rediscovering myself and redefining what success and joy is to me. I am least interested in pleasing anyone or winning any favors from them. I ain’t hindered if others consider me successful/unsuccessful or happy/unhappy, as far as I am being myself and do things the way I like them to be done.
5.If you could go back in time and tell young Nathan and young Zinara one thing, what would it be?
Zinara – I’d tell her that it’s okay to follow your heart as long as you carry your brain alongside with you. I wouldn’t say a society should be completely normless but most of the norms, specially in South Asian and Sri Lankan communities, keep us away from many things. They keep us and our whole lives in a small cage. We are afraid of doing things, and taking chances. How many of young girls (even boys) in Sri Lanka actually travel? Most of them don’t but they want to. Girls here don’t travel alone. I never glorify solo travel as I enjoy travelling with my partner the most but if any local woman wants to solo travel in Sri Lanka, do it. As long as you carry your brains to where your heart follows, you are fine, sugar plum. Yes, and that’s where you have to break the social norms.
Nathan – Since Zinara writes a lot clearly, haha i will keep this simple: don’t grow up, stay young!!! These are the blissful years, enjoy and treasure it every day!
6.What do you guys do apart from blogging?
Zinara – As I said earlier, I’m currently reading for my bachelors and I also work as a social media executive and a freelance writer.
Nathan – Play cricket whenever I get the chance. Any chance to click photos to treasure the moment, you will see me there haha.
7.Who takes all those interesting pictures for Instagram?
It is, mostly, if not always, Nathan!
8.How often do you guys disagree on things?
Zinara – Pretty often I’d say 😀 We disagree mostly on everything related to cricket basically because we both often support different teams. I support Pakistan in cricket and although Nathan says he too supports it, his first team is, always, Sri Lanka. That creates many disagreements haha.
9.What three important facts do you think is important to become a travel and lifestyle blogger?
There aren’t many ‘facts’ but it’s important to blog about your real experiences with a personal touch. Try experimenting with your camera and you will always improve your photography skills. Shoot with different angles. Blog/post on social media pretty constantly when you’ve got time.
10. What are your favorite travel books and why?
We aren’t fans of lists and a-z guides but more likely are fans of personal experiences and inspirational stories. Wild by Cheryl Strayed is one.
11.Do you guys only travel around Sri Lanka or abroad as well?
For now, as a couple together, we’ve only traveled around Sri Lanka but we are traveling later this year to abroad and we hope to document our experiences abroad, too.
12. What are your pet peeves?
Zinara – People who walk slowly or stand still on the sidewalk while I’m trying to run for my work/uni. Private buses and their blasting ‘music’ which mostly consists of Sinhala versions of contemporary Bollywood songs – that annoys me a lot! I think it’s my biggest pet peeve.
Nathan – Well the Sri Lankan working system and how top officials exploit the people working under them. And the corruption in the cricket administration which doesn’t allow talented cricket players.
13.Favorite Sri Lankan dish?
Zinara – It has to be kottu.
Natha – Duh! No brainer, kottu FTW 😀
Zinara – Italian. But I eat and absolutely love any cuisine/food which tastes good!
Nathan – Middle Eastern
15.What are your favorite destination?
Zinara – Pakistan has always been my place to visit. I’ve not been there yet but I’m sure when one day I travel there, and even after that, it will remain the same. Inside Sri Lanka, I’d say it is Nanu Oya.
Nathan – I think that’d be Morocco!
16. Who inspired you two to start blogging?
There are a few bloggers who constantly inspire us. Shivya Nath from The Shooting Star is, one. We love how she brings the personal touch to all of her posts and being an Indian, she truly is an inspiration for many South Asian travelers. We’ve learnt so much about responsible travel from reading her blog and lately, we try to travel responsible as much as we can. The other one we truly admire is Katie Dawis from The Hostel Girl. She focuses on hostels and blogs about her backpacking experiences. Katie is one of the very few people we’ve seen who constantly engage with her followers and always stay honest. We also love Leyla Kazim from The Cutlery Chronicles.
17.What advice can you two give our readers who are interested in blogging as well?
Be honest and document the realities although they might seem quite chaotic. When you want to photograph a stranger, always ask them. Seek their permission. Remember, there’s more to travel and life than Instagram or blogging. Go there and start a conversation with them even if you both share a very few common words. If you blog about travel, focus on something more than mainstream tourism.
18.What’s the most difficult part about being a blogger?
Zinara – Apart from being bloggers, we work and study fulltime so it’s always being the struggle to balance everything in life.
Nathan – Haha, waking up early morning to travel/catch those trains.
If you want to see more of their work, follow them on their social media accounts