Since you are a renowned name in this field, please tell us something about yourself and what made you get into travelling?
I think my story is too generic to be interesting. Just like most other people, I was sick of myeventless life in that cubicle and needed some excitement. However, travelling is a serious addiction and I had to gradually adjust everything else to accommodate my travels. I left my full-time job 4 years ago, at a time when even my blog was not earning enough. I sustained through various freelance projects initially. Those were difficult times but I preferred that over the drudgery of a socially acceptableday job.
Have you ever encountered any religious norms or prejudices during your travel being caused by any tribes or local people that you wish you wouldn’t have to go through?
I don’t really think so. Various communities have certain eccentric practices but that is their way of life. The most unpleasant experiences have been caused by the people in the big cities. Life away from the so called “civilization” has been far more satisfactory. I have got stuck at 4000 metres or wandered around mountains without knowing where to spend the night, only to be helped by locals who were not expecting anything in return.
More Interview on bongyatra: Interview with Team Roots for BongYatra
What according to you is the best travel resource online?
It is hard to name one but I still find the most useful information in forums such as Indiamike. They have become less active nowadays with the avalanche of travel blogs and various travel start-ups, but their old forums often provide me what I need. Otherwise, I consult certain other bloggers who specialize on certain regionsbut such bloggers are also not many in number. I have never bought a guidebook in my life and I also don’t trust the content in most of the commercial travel websites, usually written by content writers who have never been there.
Is it worth drawing a line between tourist and travellers? Is there any difference in the 1st place? What’s your opinion on the same?
I think the politically correct answer is NO. But at the risk of sounding snobbish, I’d like to say that a real traveller gets more alarmed by the known rather than the unknown (& vice versa).
Had you not been into travelling, what you would have probably done
I think I would just have written a novel about a person who takes psychedelic trips to cope with his inability to take real trips.
What’s your favourite dish out of the ones you have had so far and where does it belong from?
Food is not really my calling. I eat whatever is available to sustain, without thinking too much about it. But if I must name one, I remember the extra-large Siddu in Gadagushaini (A place near Jibhi that is not visited by many). We were in a difficult situation due to some miscalculations. We had no money and there was no ATM in the town. The homestay owner who sheltered us, also bought the food for us!
What did take you into blogging?
I have always liked to write. Earlier I used to have a generic blog (no longer active). During my first ever trek to the Valley of Flowers in 2010, I realized that except a few famous tourist spots, most places in India lacked proper documentation. It was also hard to find high-res images online for most of them. I thought there was a scope to create unique and quality content in this field, and so I decided to start a travel blog and Valley of Flowers was the first ever post when the site was launched in 2011.
What is your favourite place in India and what attracted you the most?
I think it has become clear by now that I spend most of my time in Himachal. It isnot only about the natural beauty of the state but the ease of travel it offers to a budget traveller. The public transport is excellent, and so is the homestay system that seems to be present even in the remotest corners. It is the ideal place for long-term backpacking as it costs very little.
Any common travel myth that you disagree with?
I mostly travel alone and rarely socialize. So, I don’t really know what myths are being nurtured by others. In general, I think people need to explore more and don’t restrict themselves to cliched, touristy destinations.