Tell us something about yourself.
I’m an inspired traveler, a travel writer, a photographer, an aspiring mountaineer and adventurer, a positive thinker and a minimalist, hailing from the wonderful city of Kochi in Kerala which I’m really proud to be a part of. I’m lucky to have been brought up in the historical town of Fort Kochi but even greater to be an Indian. Since 2015, I have been travelling and curating my experiences through my blog, Escaping Life. The blog is my attempt to share and inspire more people to take time out to see the world we live in.
After visiting which place you started your blog?
After a lifetime of waiting to travel far, in 2014, I decided to travel some place new every time I got a holiday from work. But it all started with my trip to the North East of India and it changed my personality for good. Travel changed my general outlook towards life and people. Since then, I’ve wanted to travel more and learn more from my experiences, meet new people, exchange ideas, eat local food and explore. The North East and its people were a revelation for me and I am happy I took that decision to visit the region first.
What is the one thing you can never travel without?
There are so many things I can travel without. But I think the one thing I need the most with me is my phone. A bit ironic but having my phone with me helps me capture precious moments very quickly which I later use to piece together my journals and that ends up on my blog. It is these small moments that makes a story and I’m grateful for the technology we have these days.
What’s the first ever trip in your life and how old were you back then?
As a kid I always wanted to travel to exotic places. The one I remember the most is a bus ride to Thekkady with my family. I was probably 8 years old. Apart from this, I was always on the move having lived in Kochi, Chennai and later in Bahrain where my parents moved to.
What makes your blog so distinctive from its contemporary blogs?
My blog is an extension for me. I jot down escapades in true travelogue style so readers will experience getting transported to the place I write about. You could picture yourself travelling through the words. Over time I have learnt to adapt my writing style to include my photography. As the saying goes, “a picture can speak a thousand words”. My main aim is to inspire people to explore the world in whatever means be it long term travelling, short trips or even daily commutes. Everything has a story just waiting to be told. I also share adventure experiences so regular people like you and me can break their worst fears and get over them. Adventure is liberating to the soul be it trekking, hiking, snorkeling, diving, bungee jumping and so on. I don’t think we were meant to do just work, live and die. There’s more to this life.
What is the most unique experience you’ve ever had while travelling?
Recently I was on a trip to Varkala in Kerala, and I came across a stranger at a cafe. I broke into a conversation with the person which went on for a good 2-3 hours. He asked simple questions that really struck me, questions like, “Define happiness?”, “What is the true purpose of you being in the world?”, “Why is there a constant need to socialise?”. After the lengthy thoughtful conversation the man disappeared without his name or where he was from never to be seen again. It was almost like a talk with God. But he made me ponder a lot and bring valid things about life in perspective that day and I’m still finding answers to them everyday. I think this is the most unique thing that has ever happened to me while travelling.
How do you decide on a destination? What are key factors behind your every selection?
When I first started, I had a regular paying job, and I would select a place that I would really connect with. I travelled to India, Nepal and Georgia like that. I would do extensive online research on the place and then save up money to travel there but almost all in backpacker budgets stretching it on some occasions. This is good if you are good at research.
Since the last year, I have quit my job and have been freelancing. I have travelled on my own and also through familiarisation trips with brands and tourism boards. When I travel alone, I pick a place, and just find a way to get there by whatever means that fits in my budget. It’s the journey that matters. The only thing I give a lot of attention is the time I need to get there and back and maybe a good cheap place to rest my head. I think the element of surprise keeps it very interesting. I don’t keep a lot of expectations so every experience turns out to be unique. I do have a bucketlist of places saved into my brain which I hope to visit someday. To summarise I would say, find a place that connects with you, do some basic research on how to get there, explore the place with the help of the locals and experience the unexpected. Budgeting is good to make sure you don’t run low on finances.
How much time do you spend on computer, smartphone, or any other gadgets while you are on a trip?
It depends, when I’m in city like Mumbai or Delhi, there is almost always good phone coverage. I like to update my experiences on the go with Instagram stories on the phone. Occasionally updating facebook and twitter with the best sights and pictures I take. I always need my phone on charge to take good photos so my battery pack is equally important. I rarely use my computer when travelling though even though I carry them to transfer photos and videos. When you are on a solo trip it is always good to be in touch with close friends and family so they know your whereabouts. Whatsapp helps me do this. But in the mountains where I frequent more often, it is a different story altogether, where network is low or never there. I just almost use my phone only to take pictures or videos. But without doubt staying away electronic gadgets for a while does give you a good detox which is required every now and then. And some of your best experiences goes unrecorded and it’s best that way.
Do you idolize anyone in particular that inspires you for travelling and blogging?
I don’t really idolize any person, but a lot of people have collectively inspired my travels and writing. When it comes to travelling there are of course big names like Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus and George Mallory for his guts in climbing Everest. In my generation, I find explorers like Levison Wood and Bear Grylls really inspiring. In blogging, my favorites writers are Indian bloggers, Divyakshi Gupta from The Quirky Wanderer and Shivya Nath from The Shooting Star. I must say Divyakshi has not only inspired me but also mentored me a lot in my writing since we connected.
What’s the lesson you have learnt from your travelling experiences?
Traveling is always teaching me lessons that I would have never learned from any book or a classroom. The best thing is to keep an open mind and learn from everything and everyone that you come across, big or small. Give without expectations and your reward will be great. Always pay it forward. Travel experiences define you and shape your personality for years to come until your last breath and it’s a nonstop learning process. Make the best of it. I’ll close with my favorite line “It only ends once, everything before that is just progress…”. God bless! Shalom!