1) Please tell us something about your origin.
I belong to a very small but picturesque state called Sikkim. I have spent my entire childhood in the hills of Gangtok and thereafter pursued higher education in Kolkata and Dehradun. I am a Supply Chain Management professional by qualification and work experience but a writer at heart. I started writing my travel blog last year and since then it has been received well. It was only after I underwent a surgery that I decided I needed to take a gap year to travel and document my experiences in the blog.
2) What’s your favourite holiday destination in India and why?
I fall in love with all the places I visit, mostly because of the people I meet. I have two favourite destinations in India. First would be Rishikesh which is a perfect concoction of scenic beauty, serenity, amazing food, yoga and everything wonderful and the second would be Udaipur, I just came back from Udaipur and it is one city that can simply mesmerize you with its grandeur.
3) What did take you into blogging?
Writing has always been my passion but I would hide my articles, poems, musings etc as I was pretty apprehensive about showing those pieces to anyone. I started Travel Blogging last year, and after receiving much appreciation from friends and family I dedicated more effort and time towards it. I underwent a surgery in November last year and needed proper rest and care to recuperate, it was then that I realized I should use this time to write and probably travel and write once I am better and that’s what I have been doing since February this year.
4) Did you ever have any inhibition that your travels have helped you vanquish with time?
Well! Yes, many actually but most importantly I overcame the fear of travelling alone. Earlier, I had travelled alone many times but eventually met friends to continue the trip further or had someone receiving me at airports or stations but this solo travel thing feels awesome. I overcame the fear of strangers. I am actually an introvert and talking to strangers was something I would never attempt. But now that I travel alone most of the times, I realize that most people are good, helpful and kind. I interact freely with people who sometimes just bowl me over by their goodness.
Travel teaches you a lot of things, out of which, it has taught me to understand humans better. Each one of us fights a battle within that no one else has a clue about. My adventures have taught me to be more compassionate, more mature and helped me look at things in life from different perspectives.
5) How do you manage your fund while travelling? Is there any strategy for the same?
It’s mostly the transport, food, and accommodation that comprise the major chunk of travel expenses. I am not a luxury traveller, at times I travel on a shoestring budget. I stay at backpacker hostels, budget hotels or even look for a host in various places (when will relatives and friends come handy!), take the public transport wherever feasible; I love to walk around cities and markets and will any day opt for a train instead of expensive flights (also trying to reduce my carbon footprint). Since I have to watch what I eat, I do not go around exploring fancy food stuff thus I do not qualify as a foodie. Therefore you may not find me trying to uncover the nightlife or go cafe hopping in new places. However, I do keep one day at least exploring the culinary delights of a place. I love to shop, but sensibly. I mostly buy handicrafts and souvenirs from local artisans and try my level best to bargain. I think that’s my strategy to manage funds while travelling.
6) Tell us 10 things, a traveller should have in their bag?
Well, these are the things I always carry on my trips apart from the bare essentials such as camera, mobiles etc. and I am going to tell it from the perspective of a woman traveller.
- Pepper spray –you never know!
- Hand Sanitizer – trust me you will need them.
- Mask or a headscarf- Too much pollution and dust at many places in India.
- A nice pair of sunglasses- Very important to protect the eyes.
- Zip pouches- To protect the camera, mobiles etc from rain also serves well for carrying food and toiletries.
- A sturdy sling bag – To carry all the essentials.
- A very good sunscreen/sunblock – Of course you don’t want to end up looking like a roasted chicken!
- Sports Shoes or comfy sneakers (apart from one pair of flip flops)- To walk, run, hike and anything at all.
- Money hidden somewhere in the backpack – Preparing a backup.
- Identity documents and passport size photos- You may need them for passes, permits etc.
7) Do you have any specific experience that you think every traveller should be aware of?
Not an experience as such but an idea. I stand by the idea of Sustainable and responsible travel. For instance, these days, I see most people want to go for road trips across the country and abroad too without gauging the daunting consequences it has on the environment. I am not saying road trips are bad but they shouldn’t be the only way to explore places. It is important to educate the travellers about their carbon footprints and encourage them to devise ways to reduce it. Today’s traveller is a breed; every other person wants to travel the world. These people the travel bloggers, travel photographers, travel writers etc could be and should be the drivers of change and educate people to travel responsibly and sustainably.
8) Have you travelled internationally? What are the places and how was the experience? Did it somehow differ from the experiences you have garnered in India?
I have only been to Bhutan so far. I stayed at a very dear friend’s home in Thimphu and hiked to Tiger’s Nest in Paro and visited Punakha and other adjoining places. I got a chance to interact with a very learned and wise Rinpoche and gained insight into a lot of things in life. It was the best and most spellbinding experience of my life.
Bhutan is a lot different than India, in its culture, etiquettes, and demeanour. I wish I could bring back some of their goodness to India. For instance, people stop their cars in the middle of the roads to let pedestrians cross the road. Pedestrians cross the roads only at Zebra Crossings. Imagine that in India, you will end up being run over. Compassion and humility are so deep-rooted in the culture of Bhutan that you may find yourself obnoxious before them. No wonder, Bhutan is called the Happy Kingdom.
9) Any common travel myth that you disagree with?
As of now, these are all that I can think of, I am sure there are many others as well.
- You have to quit your job to travel: You don’t have to quit your job to travel. Just stop considering Travel as a getaway but take it as a priority. Travelling could become your opportunity to educate yourself or hone your skills better. For instance, you may learn new photography skills or start writing poetry as you travel or learn better ways to relax and heal. Above all, you will start valuing things that you already have in life once you start travelling. We take travelling as a mere break in the monotony of our daily lives, stop believing that and see how even in the busiest of schedules you will start taking out time to travel and see new places.
- You need lots of money to travel: Of course, you need money to travel but not a lot. Plan well, set your priorities right, manage your expenses, make a trade off of things that are essential than luxury, choose well and voila! You have enough money to travel. For once, do not splurge on that swanky car or branded shoes, handbags and blah blah, see money appear magically before your eyes and opening doors to various other places in the world.
- India is absolutely unsafe for woman solo travellers: Of course, you got to be safe and careful in India, but I wish to break this myth that all Indian men are perverts and potential rapists. I have come across some amazing men (and women) in my trips that have been exceptionally helpful and kind. India is not completely unsafe for women travellers, and only once you have travelled in this country that you will understand its true essence.
10) Please, advice the newbie travellers with some of your advantageous tips.
- Firstly, you do not have to quit your flourishing careers to travel unless you really want to quit and take a break, which is absolutely fine. But learn to make time for travel.
- Secondly, learn to explore your own localities first, we are always aiming to see Paris, Amsterdam, Greece etc. which is absolutely necessary, but what I intend to say is see the places that are near you, travel to villages or learn about a farmer’s hardships. You never know how you may end up helping someone this way. Find out about the history of your own roots and you shall get plenty of opportunities see the world beyond.
- Thirdly, practice sustainable and responsible travelling wherever you go. Do not litter, buy from local artisans, make an effort to reduce your carbon footprint, volunteer for various causes that touch the chords of your heart and be compassionate and help anyone in need.