Hello, This is me!

Elita

Have Feet Will Travel Be You For You

About me

Hello

I’mElita

Freelance Writer and Workshop Facilitator

Welcome to my blog!

I am the heart+mind behind “Be You For You” and “Have Feet Will Travel”. And Nomadic Thunker is the canopy under which they are housed.

Be You For You is where my love for words meets expression. This is my entrepreneurial venture through which I facilitate workshops with students as well as working professionals on using writing and art as a medium of self-expression.

Have Feet Will Travel is where my love for words meets travel. Besides sharing my own travelogues, this is where I engage with organizations and brands as a consultant/freelancer to develop content.

Yes, I am a self-declared logophile.

And as you scroll along, you’ll learn more about the What, Why and How of all that I do (and keep adding on to)…

Be You For You

Self Exploration

"The person you will spend the most time with in your life is yourself"

We are the stories we tell ourselves. Have you EXPLORED your story yet? Do you know if you are playing Hero or Victim?

Self Expression

"If you ever need a helping hand, it's at the end of your arm...”

Interpersonal communication is key to healthy relationships. And what about the relationship with our own self - the Intrapersonal one? Have you ever EXPRESSED yourself to yourself?

Self Discovery

"Know Thyself"

We aspire to live to our full potential and may feel held back. Have you DISCOVERED your blindspots? Does it require you to course-correct?

Self Awareness

"I never change, I simply become more myself"

Through non-verbal and non-intrusive activities that require no specific language skills or writing skills (unlike Creative Writing), Be You For You workshops enable participants in re-examining the story that is YOU!

Have Feet Will Travel

Where itchy feet meets itchy hands

Travel is my muse and no journey is considered complete until I have written about it

Where budget travel meets responsible travel

At the heart of my wanderlust is the quest to cultivate more sensitivity about the world around me within the means I can afford

Where the desire to escape meets the desire to be found

I travel to write. I write to see what I'm thinking. I think to make sense of myself. I make sense of myself to thrive. I thrive to travel

Where travel meets human interest stories

Have Feet Will Travel is my online journal; a travelogue documenting solo and non-solo experiences

67

Be You For You participants since July 2016

532006

Seconds it took a non-coder (AKA yours truly) to singly revamp the blog

23

Books I want to read by the end of 2017

348

Age (in months) by which I travelled to each of India’s 29 states

All Posts

iExpress | Dear Journal Writer...

Dear Journal Writer,

I’ve seen you scrawling.
I’ve seen you furiously scribbling away.
I’ve seen you fill reams and reams of sheets
I’ve seen how the grip around your pen increases and decreases. 
I've likened that experience to looking at a time-lapse video in motion…

I’ve watched as you’ve hesitated to sometimes put words to the thoughts swarming around in your head.
I’ve watched as you’ve stared into oblivion when you couldn’t put words to the thoughts swarming in your head.
I’ve watched you sit glass-eyed when you’ve been fraught with trying to understand your thoughts so you could put them down in words.


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After you’ve written, I’ve noticed the elation that comes from feeling the weight lifted off your shoulders…
Sometimes, I’ve noticed the relief that comes from being able to express something for the very first time…
Occasionally, I’ve noticed the surprise that comes from catching yourself off-guard by your own revelations on paper…

But of late, you’ve stopped scribbling away. The reams are now musty and blank. The pen has been rendered an orphan.

And of late, I’ve been noticing a wistful look when you leaf through some of your previous scrawlings. 
I’ve heard you mutter to yourself: “Damn! I sound so sad. There’s so much hurt and pain in here.”

I’ve begun to wonder: Are you judging yourself for expressing your inner-most world to yourself? Are you terrified of how you’ve felt? Does the angst and the hurt haunt you so much that you’ve decided to stop writing completely? 
How does it feel to choke your own voice?
How does it feel to fill that void with distractions?
Does thumbing away on social media, responding to and sometimes, perhaps, even being a troll serve as an outlet for that repressed angst?
Is being pseudo-poet-philosopher on Instagram fulfilling the urge to be expressive AND authentic?

Yes, I’m judging you.
I’m judging you for not writing anymore. Not writing authentically anymore, at least. 
I am judging you for not being connected with yourself anymore.

I’m judging you for abandoning me.

Yours truly,
The Journal

***

Journal-writing is the closest to expressive writing or self-expression some of us have ever been.

For that exact reason, in my conversations with friends as well as with folks who’ve been a part of ‘Be You For You’ workshops, a topic that comes up a lot is 'the decline in journal writing'.
Erstwhile journal-writers have claimed to stop journaling either because:
(i) It’s felt like a repetitive process with little or no outcomes
(ii) They’ve found themselves on loop without having any breakthroughs
(iii) Sometimes penning difficult thoughts and emotions have taken a toll

I’ve been there too. And I’ve had times when I’d stopped journaling too.
However that wasn’t a solution. Writing helps us connect with our innermost worlds. And to not exploit this medium, is to do ourselves a huge disservice – this is more true if we’ve never journalled before!
To be disconnected from our thoughts, is to fail at understanding our emotions.
To not understand our emotions, is to fail at comprehending why we are reacting in a certain manner to stimuli in our external environment.

Humour has been, is and will be my life-saver Be it while traveling solo. Or figuring my in-roads in the journey of life. Keeping my wits close at hand has redeemed me at every fork in the road. A li'l over three months ago, an unforeseen run-in with my inner demons ruptured the vein that transports the wit in my head to what I write by hand There could have been no sadder tragedy It brought everything to a stop It's taken its time (and patience with Self is key in matters such as these). It's making a return (the light at the end of the tunnel isn't a train). Going old school with the good old pen-and-paper is more helpful than the laptop. It feels like a metamorphosis. Peeling away from what was. Making way for what is. Read this line earlier today: सुकून मिलता है दो लफ्ज़ कागज़ पर उतार कर, चीख भी लेता हूँ और आवाज भी नहीं होती.. Which loosely translates to: I'm comforted when I pen two words down on paper. Because that's how I scream without making any noise... . . P.S.: It perhaps helps that my notebook has that quote on its cover 😉 A post shared by Elita (@nomadicthunker) on


For the sake of simplification, I’ll say that expressive writing is journal-writing with nuance.

The merit of expressive writing – i.e. writing to express and not impress because your only audience is yourself – is that it is non-intrusive. We express and become acquainted with our deepest, most vulnerable selves when the nib hits the page. In other words, when we write, we begin to reconnect with our thoughts and our emotions.

Be You For You takes participants through guided activities that avoid pitfalls of finding yourself on a repetitive loop with no breakthroughs or finding yourself in the throes of emotions you suddenly feel ill-equipped to manage.

Be You For You enables participants to begin taking a step closer towards self-awareness.
Because like Robert Holden has said: Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have.

--
I am facilitating a Be You For You workshops in July and August in Mumbai! Drop me an email on nomadicthunker[at]gmail[dot]com if you're interested in attending and would like to know more.
You may download the brochure here and FAQs here

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For opportunities to work with me, click here


iRediscover | The Kindness of Strangers in Mizoram

“So Google Maps says we need to keep going straight. But I think we should also just ask someone. I don’t want us to have walked off in the wrong direction. Not on a hilly terrain”, I was saying to my friend when as if on cue, the Universe plops Sangeeta right in front of us. We would learn her name and more, later but it was she who approached us and asked us a question in Mizo that only got her blank stares from my friend and me.

She was bright and pointed her forefinger at us and asked, “Hindi?” which got a resounding yes with the head-nod to accompany it from both of us.

Aizawl, Mizoram, hills, northeast, India, Mizo
“You’ll are tourists? Where are you’ll going?” she asked in Hindi.
“Yes, we’re tourists and we are trying to make our way to Solomon’s Temple. Could you tell us if we’re on the right road and how much longer it could take us?” I replied back in Hindi.
“Oh! Don’t worry. I’ll take you’ll. My house is on the way” she said, happy to give us company. Though I was the happier one.


Meet Sangeeta
Just as we resumed walking, I asked her, “What are you doing in this area all by yourself?” Let it be known that Sangeeta was a 9th grader who looked much younger for a 9th grader and that’s what provoked my question.

Aizawl, Mizoram, hills, northeast, India, Mizo
Sangeeta

To which Sangeeta said, “I was on an errand distributing milk and that house there was my last stop” pointing into the distance.
“It must be quite the walk for you, right?” I was concerned.

It was one thing that my friend and I chose to walk the 10 kilometres to Solomon’s Temple. We had just 48 hours in Mizoram. And Aizawl was all that we would be able to cover. So rather than trying to get on a must-strike-everything-off-our-to-see-and-to-do-list, we chose to limit our ‘list’ and decided that since nothing compares to walking when exploring a place as closely as one possibly could, we would do just that. Even when 10 kilometres through the zigzag uphill roads of Aizawl’s hills seemed somewhat daunting for us city-bred people.



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[P.S.: The 48 hour time-period was pre-decided for us by the availability of cheap flights for the first leg of our northeast trip to Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram. It was an opportunity cost for the overall time saved in getting to and out of these states.
More on how to plan a budget trip to the northeast in subsequent posts. Promise.]

Back to Sangeeta, who on hearing my question said, “The walk is good for me. Anyway, I am so fat. This way there’s hope that I’ll lose some of this weight.”
There was something of a disdain that I picked in her tone.
A disdain towards her body.
A disdain that made me very very uncomfortable.
“But you’re a child. You’re not supposed to feel like this about yourself!” I couldn’t stop myself from blurting that out aloud. But someone had already made her feel ‘bad’ about her physicality. I was a random stranger and I was not going to be able to rewrite her inner narrative!

“So why have you’ll come to Aizawl? Where are you’ll from? Is this your first time?” she had a string of questions for us. It was as if the words I’d uttered to take away the shame she felt towards her body never reached her ears.
And I let it be.

We talked about Big Boss which was her favourite on TV; though it was her filling us in about it since we don’t care too much for TV. Certainly not Big Boss! She talked about school – her favourite teachers, her friends, the extra-curriculars she was a part of.
Pretty neat company to have, if you ask me. It was something of a struggle explaining to her what we did for a living but that was the most challenging it got. Oh that and the extremely steep inclines she took us through to avoid the longer route – via the main road!


Solomon’s Temple
After parting ways with Sangeeta, we plodded onwards to Solomon’s Temple. We did miss a turn and made my prophecy come true. But once we reached its premises, I recall being stumped by the magnitude and expanse of the structure!

We had walked 10 kilometres. The incinerating heat was directly over our heads. We were exhausted. But all of it was forgotten when I found myself in front of Solomon’s Temple in Kidron Valley.

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With the foundation stone being laid in 1996, this place of prayer and worship is still under construction. Such is the scale of this endeavour that a local I got talking to said that it would be another two-five years before it could be considered complete.


Aizawl, Mizoram, hills, northeast, India, Mizo
The altar at Solomon's Temple | Kidron Valley, Mizoram - January 2017

Aizawl, Mizoram, hills, northeast, India, Mizo
One of the four pillars at Solomon's Temple with 7 David's stars

Cabs and cabbies of Aizawl
The touchdown in Aizawl the previous day marked (i) our arrival in Mizoram – AKA state number three (of seven in the northeast) and, (ii) the realisation that I ever since I could recall, I had been misspelling and mispronouncing the capital city as Aizwal (for reasons I do not know).
Unlike the travel hacks we had to deploy outside the airport at Agartala and Imphal, it was all too straightforward here. Our inner linepermits [ILP] (yes, Indian citizens require an ILP while non-Indians require a PAP to enter Mizoram) had been obtained in Guwahati prior to our departure to Agartala. At Aizawl airport, the officer who initialled our ILP, recommended that we take a prepaid cab from the airport itself as there are no other modes of public transport within and around most of Aizawl.

Aizawl, Mizoram, hills, northeast, India, Mizo
Cabs of Aizawl

Seated in our Maruti 800, our driver – Ringa – was a very friendly chap. He was moderately conversant and we exchanged snippets from each other’s lives. Cabbies like Ringa love regaling you with their admiration for their state. And Mizoram is definitely worthy of every bit of admiration. Cruising through the zigzag road from the Airport to Chanmari (where we were putting up for the two nights), I was enamoured by how hilly and green it is.
I was able to stumble on very little information – both in the online as well as the offline world - about Mizoram during my planning and preparation stage for this big trip to the northeast. Which is why I was lapping up everything I could from our conversation with Ringa.
In an extremely kind gesture that neither my friend nor I saw coming, somewhere during our 33 kilometre drive, he pulled over the cab to treat us to some sugarcane juice. We exchanged numbers after we got off at Chanmari so we could coordinate our drop to the airport in 48 hours.

To not feel like our every move was being monitored after four and a half days in otherwise warm Imphal, meant we could be everywhere we wanted to be here in Aizawl. I have held my freedom of movement a lot more dearly since. We mostly just walked around Aizawl market aimlessly, imagining how pretty the state would be during Christmas! I had not known that Mizoram is mostly a Christian state either (just like Nagaland and Meghalaya).

Aizawl, Mizoram, hills, northeast, India, Mizo
Being 'foot-soldiers' in search of food. Glimpses from Zotes's Bakery and Fela Fels in Aizawl

Aizawl, Mizoram, hills, northeast, India, Mizo
Streets of Aizawl

Aizawl, Mizoram, hills, northeast, India, Mizo
When Nature tries to blend in... 


We were flying out of Aizawl on a Sunday. As it turns out, the Christian state remains mostly shut as locals are attending prayer services at their churches. The streets that were teeming with people the previous two days was now bearing a forlorn look. Ringa was also at church but he got a friend of his to get in touch with us and arrange for our drop to the airport. His acts of kindness shall remain forever imprinted in my memory.

Kiran, our new cabbie, felt a lot like meeting Ringa’s twin – except the two aren’t even related by blood. They are just friends and like Kiran would later tell us they often pass on passengers when one is busy. It helps business and also mitigates inconvenience for the passengers, he said.
Needless to say, the conversations with Kiran also had me making copious mental notes. He shared his views on how the ILP was a hindrance for tourists wanting to come to the state and how he was in awe of what Sikkim had been able to accomplish for itself in terms of tourism. He spoke of how perhaps because Mizoram is a Christian state, social welfare is a top priority – the government provides free housing to the homeless, environment and ecology are key. He spoke of people from the state being genial without being pushy and how that makes the state quite safe for both locals as well as outsiders.
Kiran also shared with us his dislike for Delhi – where he has worked for some time among other places before returning back to his home state – because he finds it unnecessarily aggressive and competitive!

And before we knew it, we were already back at the airport bidding adieu as if we weren’t strangers who’d just met for the first time 75 minutes ago!


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iNarrate | The Backstory of #BeYouForYou and #HaveFeetWillTravel

QUESTION: What do you think is common between:
a 15 year old with a journal,
a 22 year old tired about being body-shamed for being ‘thin’,
a 24 year old who’s travelled solo for the first time,
a 26 year old who quit her illusion of control (aka a full-time job) and
a 28 year old galvanising people to explore and express themselves?

ANSWER: The redemptive power of words and stories.


P.S.: I am that girl; a girl who now sees the wisdom in this Steve Jobs quote: “You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

And this is my story…
About a month ago, while chatting with a friend about Be You For You – my venture through which I facilitate expressive writing workshops for students as well as working professionals – it struck me how until now, I hadn’t shared the backstory.

What was someone who fit the mould of I-quit-my-job-to-travel now doing by facilitating workshops on expressive writing? Not travel writing. Not creative writing. But expressive writing.

I did not quit my job to travel. 
I did quit a desk-bound existence.
I quit the un-examined life (which according to Socrates wasn’t worth living anyway).

I find words flow more easily whenever I'm on the road. Travel is my muse | Karnataka (India) -- January 2016
It took me a year of examining - that were coupled with a few meltdowns – to realise that more than writing for myself and for an audience; whether through my blog-posts or through the projects I was undertaking, I wanted to take writing to more people.
Not writing as a skill, but writing as an experience.

I had found solace in the pages of my journal ever since I was a teenager.
I had been able to deflect the brickbats flung at me for being thin when I began a blog titled: Not So Ample. I gradually learnt to be unaffected by snide remarks.
I began to hear myself through the words my keyboard imprinted on my screen when I gushed about the magic of travelling. I found a sense of community when people I had never met stumbled upon my blog and expressed how a post struck a chord with them.
It was true that I had not only experienced my world but also myself differently because I wrote. I got over being body-shamed by embedding humour when I wrote. It’s helped vocalise myself every time I pick my backpack in spite of what the headlines scream.

This has been redemptive power of words and stories.
This was the experience of writing that I wanted to offer.

I can literally just squat anywhere and get writing. Including in a moving train | Arunachal Pradesh (India) -- February 2017
I conceptualised Be You For You realising how distant and disconnected we were becoming as a generation. Our distractions are often found at the end of our own hands: our gadgets. We awkwardly joke about ‘feeling’ disconnected in spite of ‘being’ connected.
Such irony!

Was it any wonder that a majority of us have been more hurt, confused and angry than we remember being a few years ago – let alone a generation earlier? Both children and adults are an afflicted lot. Stress related health ailments, malfunctioning immune systems, depressive and mood disorders that result in absenteeism, poor performance and dysfunctional relationships are becoming visibly evident.
And we have concealed our helplessness by staying more distracted which only fuels the hurt further.

What would begin happening if we found a medium to express our inner worlds?
To ourselves first?

And thus was born Be You For You!

Glimpses of Be You For You workshops from July 2016 

My belief has been that: If people are able to explore and use writing as a form of expression (i.e. have a cathartic experience), they can become aware about their thoughts and feelings.
In turn, that awareness can induce their ability to respond proactively (and not reactively) - to life’s many circumstances.

What’s even better is that attendees needn’t have to have excellent English language skills or even writing skills. Participants have used their mother-tongue and even created words to express themselves.
And just that act has been such a transformative experience to witness.



It was this time last year that I'd officially launched Be You For You.

A year later, I couldn't be any more grateful that I took that leap of faith.
Not without the support of friends who've been my sounding board since the inception of the idea!
Below is a thought I shared on Facebook --


This is the story of how I joined the dots.

And for all the times I've been asked what does Nomadic Thunker mean, here's the answer!
This is the story of the Nomadic Thunker; the story of how I discovered a way of combining forces with what I have been interested in; between writing and expression.
After all, what has Have Feet Will Travel been if not for an expression of my own experiences from the road!
And as before, the roads continue to beckon me...


P.S. 1:: This is also why my blog has undergone a much deserved overhaul. Do take a look at the home page. I would love to hear feedback!
P.S.2:: In continuing with taking leaps of faith, I do want to plan non-Mumbai based workshops. Hyderabad last December was a fantastic experience. If you can help me plan, please get in touch. 



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iShowcase | 12 Indians Who Did Not Quit Their Job To Travel [Vol. II]

You know you are doing something right when it gets picked and replicated by a bigger brand within the industry. 
Vol. I was the most-read post of 2016 on my blog. And Tripoto ran a similar feature not too many months later featuring some of the names from my post. And I wonder why it took me 15 months to come up with a Vol. II!

When I sat down to piece together 10 Indians Who Did Not Quit Their Job in January 2016, the intent was to take the focus away from folks who had quit their job to travel.
Why? After all, I'd made it to that glorified hall of fame myself, right?
Well, hardly anyone was talking about what they were doing to make travel happen after cutting their funding source off. In the instance that there was a response to that question, it came in the form of some vague terms – ‘savings’, ‘freelance’, ‘digital nomad’ and the biggest sham of all ‘influencer’.

My gripe is against the positioning of those stories.
You’re allowed to disagree with my point of view. 
Sorry, but I’m not sorry.

Of course, I’m guilty as charged. 
I’ve used almost all of the above terms myself – except ‘influencer’; That's because I still don’t know what it means. I can barely influence my mother to cook a meal of my preference. What other clout could I even claim to have? 
Now if only brands would reach out to me on the merit of my writing skills and not this aforementioned non-existent clout… I’d have a revenue model to gloat over!

And yet, there was something alluring about the notion that someone we knew was throwing caution to the wind -- and thanks to social media, everyone knows everyone.

But the tribe of I-quit-my-job-to-travel has been earning itself a bad repute! Well, that’s what happens when you create a click-bait revenue model out of scrubbing toilets or beggary.

I’m making amends of my own. Adding myself the count of those who’ve chosen dreams over stability, was one! The second amend is this post. 



Meet another bunch of schemers. 
People no different than most of us. 
Except they’ve gone after everything they’ve prioritised. It’s a word that echoed through every response. Ditto for last year. It goes without saying that ‘travel’ made it to that list of priorities along with supporting families, managing work, shouldering household responsibilities and setting a fund aside for that proverbial rainy day…

I present before you 12 such schemers and one special mention (in alphabetical order); people who've quit the excuses but not their jobs!


I.                    Aditi, 25 | Thane, Maharashtra


“Travel experiences are worth a zillion times more than accumulated leave balance encashment”, says Aditi -  a Chartered Accountant with a 9-to-whatever-time-your-boss-leaves-kind-of-a-workshift at a consultancy firm - to anyone who feigns that work does not allow them to travel! 

An aficionado of both treks and leisure trips alike, Aditi makes it a point to capture at least one sunrise and one sunset from every trip she’s taken. “Travel makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world” she quotes Gustave Flaubert to describe her travel style.

“I HAVE to take two long vacations during the year; one around my birthday and one during Christmas and weekends are mostly dedicated to nearby treks. Small getaways are very essential for me to stay sane at work”, she says while divulging that Uttarakhand’s Valley of Flowers is the destination for her birthday this August. Trust a trekker to swear by the virtues of travelling light and as she aptly puts it, “Your shoulders are more important than an extra pair of T-shirt”

Aditi has fond memories from her trip to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat and her trek to Kalsubai in Maharashtra because of the strangers who’ve turned into very dear friends she reminisces.
Aditi in the digital world: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


II.                  Aditya Rane, 24 | Mumbai, Maharashtra



Quoting Bukowski’s “You have to die a few times before you can really live” to describe his travel style, Aditya - an analyst at an impact investing fund - quips,“There is nothing like not finding time for anything, if Elon Musk could find time to date Amber Heard and make Tesla cars on the way, you can definitely take out time to visit Zanzibar.”

From hot stone steam baths in Bhutan to karaoke-ing on I will survive with drunk guys in Japan, Aditya prefers local immersive cultural experiences whenever he hits the road – which can be between 4-5 times during the year. “...Getting small meaningful gifts for your bosses from the place that you've visited helps. I’ve never heard of anybody getting fired after a cup of cocoa from Ghana!”
Point duly made.

Deliberating between Spain, Nepal and the United States of America as one of his next destinations during the year, Aditya is emphatic about travelling as locally as possible. “Eat at shops where your guides or your drivers eat. Smile; nothing puts someone at ease like a smile. Start a conversation with one random person a day. You'll definitely find something interesting that no guide book will tell you.”

Citing his interview on live television as a guest of Manchester City Football Club at half time in 2016 as being the most surreal travel experience he has ever had, a travel hack Aditya relies on when travelling outside India is to search for budget airlines like JetStar, AirAsia, etc. which offer fantastic discounts.
Aditya in the digital world: Facebook | Instagram


III.                Atique Sheikh, 26 | Mumbai, Maharashtra



“At the start of every calendar year, prepare a list of long weekends and of public holidays falling on a Tuesday or Thursday. By utilising your paid leave for a working day between a public holiday and a weekend, you will have more days in your kitty to travel. That’s Atique’s hack on how to strategically plan leaves to travel.

Responsible for recruitment as well as the planning and execution of employee engagement activities at an IT firm, for Atique the Bollywood film - Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobara – best describes his travel style. An avid user of mobile apps that offer discounts to book accommodation on budget at two and three star hotels, he maintains that, “It is a mandate for me to travel over every long weekend” which when planned in advance “helps everyone on the team to enjoy their vacation without being preoccupied because of the work getting piled up.”

Currently making the most of the long weekend by chilling out with friends in Goa, Atique recommends using the incognito mode on your browser when planning travel and using the mobile app once the plan has been decided upon.

Atique continues to remain mesmerized by Amritsar’s Golden Temple.“Visiting the Golden Temple for the first time at dusk with prayer songs playing in the background and reflection of the temple in the water still gives me goose-bumps. The vibe was so positive that you feel like all the negative thoughts within you have been destroyed.”
Atique in the digital world: Facebook


IV.                Manjusha, 28 | Mumbai, Maharashtra



“Rumi’s quote – Out beyond the ideas of right doing and wrong doing is a field, I'll meet you there - best describes my travel style” affirms Manjusha, who juggles between being a freelance event manager and a pet-sitter.

Personifying what going with the flow implies she says,I never do the bookings in advance. I prefer approaching people and talking to them; especially when I am looking for home-stays. Because sometimes, IF they like you, you get amazing discounts!”

With Himachal Pradesh next on her mind, Manjusha’s advice to anyone who claims they don’t have enough time to travel is “Zyaada mat socho. If you want to get out and travel, you’ll find time; even if it's for the weekend. Just start somewhere". She attributes her career choices as being instrumental in making it possible for her to pack her bags once every 3-4 months for a 10-12 day break.

As someone who appreciates travelling in luxury when she can afford to, Manjusha enjoys living with locals and taking a lot of photographs when she’s on the road. Speaking of the trip that has left a lasting impression, she says “Oh it has to be Nongriat in Meghalaya; my first solo. The best part is I had not planned it. The walk to this place almost killed me but when I reached, the pain in my body left me and I was content. Like, after a long long time, I felt deeply content. I couldn't fathom how the locals climb those 4000-odd steps twice, sometimes thrice every day!”
Manjusha in the digital world: Facebook | Instagram


V.                  Pradnya Kulkarni, 31 | Bangalore, Karnataka



“I travel slow and don't try to fit everything in a trip. I choose one place and do full justice to it. I do not prefer combining two countries in a trip.” – Meet Pradnya, a consultant by profession itching towards the life of a full-time digital nomad, who travels every alternate weekend. And that is aside from six big trips (i.e. ~10 days) during the year either abroad or within India. And as if to premeditate eyebrows disappearing into hairlines she adds, “I carry my laptop sometimes when I can access WiFi and work to compensate for the leaves.”

Ask her what travel hacks she swears by and she goes, "I always email myself copies of my passport and e-visa. I send myself and my sister an email about my full plan along with details of stay, their address and telephone numbers. In case I don't have a fixed plan, she is at least aware of my location; in case of any untoward incidents. I call the credit card company before I leave to ensure I have access to the card in that country. I download offline maps to my phone before arriving at destination, to avoid hunting for Wi-Fi or asking for routes.”
Now isn’t that comprehensive?

To those who claim work does not let them travel, she says Great things happen to people who ‘take time out’. There will ever be enough time to do office work or tend to household responsibilities. But we forget that our life is slipping away in parallel.”

With her sights trained for her trip to Meghalaya in May, Pradnya says her first solo backpacking trip to the United States of America, Canada and the Caribbean’s has been her trippiest till date.
Pradnya in the digital world: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


VI.                Prasad, 27 | Mumbai, Maharashtra



“It’s not what we say is a priority, but what we actually DO that’s a priority.” I have friends who tell me ‘Oh I LOVE travelling, I just don’t have time for it.’ In reality, they prioritise everything else like, watching TV, staying up late surfing the internet, hitting the pubs, shopping and so on. I believe that one does not need to travel too far to have fun - sometimes travelling around your own home can be liberating.” Wise words from Prasad, a Chartered Accountant, who prefers starting and ending his day on time so that his weekends are his to travel.

“I love being on the road. Be it a treacherous trek or a leisurely holiday or backpacking or an engrossing train journey” says Prasad who attributes him experience of bungee jumping in Rishikesh as being his most memorable one till date and whose travel style finds resonance in the song “zindagi ek safar hai suhana, yahan kal kya ho kisne jaana…”

Headed to the Valley of Flowers in August later this year followed by Kudremukh and Gokarna in Karnataka and then Sandakphu in West Bengal, Prasad categorises himself as an economical traveller as it allows him to travel longer rather than spending money on things that aren’t needed. On offbeat travel he opines, Many memorable travel experiences have happened in areas that are not easy to visit. I travel to popular sites as well but never rule out other locations just because they’re not on the tourist trail.”
Prasad in the digital world: Facebook


 VII and VIII.        Rashi and Shubhabrata, 36 and 42 | Bangalore, Karnataka



“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” is the mantra that defines the travel style of Rashi and Shubhabrata - who are employed in the IT sector and travel one long weekend every quarter in addition to extended weekends around birthdays and the anniversary plus that one 10-12 road trip at the end of the year!

Fans of road-tripping, this duo swear by two things: (a) leave early and be out of city limits before everyone’s up; and (b) travel during the off-season, especially if you’re a photography enthusiast. To the extent possible they also carry back their own garbage and try to leave the place as pristine as they would want it to be! Now that’s ingenious.

Ask them where they caught this road-trip bug and they unanimously chime in saying “…Ladakh. It was that 12 day trip that really got us going. We’d gone right after the cloud burst in 2010. The experience of talking to people amid the scenic environment and gorging on food just made it worthwhile in spite of the circumstances around us. Ever since, we have only done road trips.”

Eyeing a road-trip from Banagalore to Goa and then another in the Western Ghats during the monsoons in the immediate future, both are of the view that, “(Travel) lies in making up your mind. After all, what are you working for? Choose between "Live to work" or "Work to Live". Remember one thing "Work will never end, life will."
Rashi and Shubhbrata in the digital world: Instagram | Instagram


IX.           Rohit J. Thampy, 29 | Trivandrum, Kerala



“My most memorable trip so far has been to Malaysia in 2016 where I covered almost all of Kuala Lumpur and Penang by foot with just a map in hand and rode a scooter around Langkawi” asserts Rohit, a deputy branch manager with a private sector bank.

Just back from Sri Lanka and already planning for New Zealand in 2018 (besides travelling domestically between now and then) Rohit prefers home-stays as they allow him to blend in with the local culture as well as to enjoy local food.

“Working with a bank has helped me to visit few places as I get transferred. But to an extent, it also restricts me from doing multiple trips of longer duration due leave constraints. I usually plan long trips during the first quarter of the financial year when the work load is less”, he adds.

His advice to those who struggle to travel is, “Consider work as the fuel to fulfilll your travel bucket-list. A well planned savings from your regular income will definitely help a lot with enjoying your travels without any worry!” And to make that further simpler here are nuggets of information he shares: “I usually use Kayak for flight rate comparisons among different airlines and also set-up a price alert. Apart from that, I now delete my browser history and cache memories to get better deals while making bookings. I’d also recommend checking your bank website for any travel-related offers.”
Rohit in the digital world: Facebook


X.           Snigdha Jain, 35 | Mumbai, Maharashtra



“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living” those words by Miriam Beard sum Snigdha’s travel style up. Employed in the Sales division with an Indian bank, she identifies with the kind of travel that is “budget yet comfortable; as there is no place that cannot be visited because it’s too expensive” she maintains.

Looking forward to her trip to the Land of the Rising Sun – Japan – in May this year, Snigdha says, “I try and travel at least once a month. And when possible, I extend work-related trips. I have developed an understanding with my boss that I will always be available for any emergency.” She further emphasises, A full time or a hectic job (and mine is both) is never a reason to not travel. With a little planning and being better organised, anyone (with no matter how demanding a job) can travel.”

Recounting her trippiest trip to date, she says “On my trip to Konkan, I stayed in an eco-homestay atop a hill in the village of Parule. My room opened to a fabulous view of the Arabian Sea and my alarm was the chirping of birds. I had a wonderful time just walking around the village and the local people kept inviting us into their homes and feeding us in exchange of our stories on life in Mumbai.”

When asked about a travel hack she swears by, Snigdha says, “Keep track of sales on airlines to book cheap tickets. You can also use Skyscanner's flexi travel feature to see the cheapest tickets to any destination anytime during the year.”
Snigdha in the digital world: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


XI.           Trina Lobo, 25 | Mumbai, Maharashtra



Quoting “You only regret the chances you didn’t take!” as the line that best describes her travel style, Trina who works in the Fraud and Investigation department at a bank, says she plans two ~10 day trips a year besides clubbing the public holidays and weekends for smaller trips. “Monsoons call for some weekend treks - which result in a few late Monday mornings at best!” she adds tongue in cheek.

Given her dedication for travel, it comes as no surprise when her advice to those who don’t travel as much as they’d like to is, Adventure will hurt you but monotony will kill you. Plan smart and save up and go experience life in the unexplored!”

“Planning well in advance is the key. Prepare a detailed itinerary... Prepare daily budgets so that it doesn't leave hole in your pocket in the end. Apps like ‘Splitwise’ help in managing finances between groups while travelling. Likewise explore ‘Hostelworld’ to scout for good dorms” she recommends.

Looking forward to her trips to Uttarakhand’s Valley of Flowers in August followed by the Sandakphu-Phalut trek in West Bengal in November and a possible trip to Gokarna in Karnataka, Trina recalls that her trip to Spiti has been her most memorable thus far. “It was trek covering four picturesque villages on foot and we were staying with locals. The absolute contrast of the rough terrain and the calm in the atmosphere has left me spellbound. Life there is tough; being snow-clad for 7-8 months in a year but the people are the most peaceful ones I have ever met.”


XII.           Tushar Gogia, 36 | Mumbai, Maharashtra



“Weddings and marathons normally dictate my travel calendar” says Tushar who loves planes, digs long flights and has made it his mission to discover local vegan food while travelling.

“I travel a fair amount for work and play” declares this entrepreneur who runs a leadership coaching program (Emerge) and a local healthy snack food company (The Orange Bowl) when he isn’t travelling – which according to him is around 15-20 times a year! I try to blend some play time on work trips and explore work on play trips. At least two trips a year are meant to simply unwind and relax - no internet, no computer”, he explains.

“Choose travel and it will happen. Choose work and it will happen, Choose love and it will happen. If you really want to travel, you make time and save money for it”, he says to those who cannot seem to make enough travel happen. He further adds, “At one company, I was the only employee to get a 5-day work-week, the rest of the team worked Saturdays. It sounds crazy but I asked and they agreed. Always ask, else you will never know.”

With a marathon in the Tushar mountains of Utah in July in his travel kitty, he recalls his trip to the Andaman Islands where mornings were spent diving in some of most pristine reefs on the planet and doing the Macarena underwater, as being among his trippiest till date.

Probe him on travel hacks and he says, “Really simple stuff here...at airports, hotels, stations, anywhere …ask people their names and address them by it. People in the travel industry meets so many people, building connections with them helps get you the best service.”
Tushar in the digital world: Facebook | Instagram | Instagram


No. XIII. is a special mention. 
At the time of this post going live, Ameya had quit his job and booked a one-way ticket to South America. But it does not take away from his story the passion he has had for travel while still at his job. And for that reason and that reason alone he has been featured alongside.
XIII.           Ameya Kolambekar, 34 | Mumbai, Maharashtra



“'A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow’ is a quote that sums my travel style, says Ameya, a spontaneous traveller who has had over a decade long career in the field of marketing.

“I’d be very disappointed if I haven’t done four trips in a year. At least a couple of which, are outside the country.”, he says when asked how frequently he travels in a year. Thinking back to his most memorable trip he adds, “I spent a month, backpacking in China. I packed my bags for a week and came back after a month. A really cold December, no language skills, lack of vegetarian food and a lot of it through the rural parts of the country. Completely unplanned, amazingly challenging and met some fabulous people too.”

On the claim that work does not leave people with time to travel, he adds, “I think we all work in different capacities, earn our pay-checks with usually similar time on hand. For those who don’t travel enough, it probably suggests they found a way to make use of it, in a way, which was more plausible or appealing for them at that point in time.”

Sharing travel hacks he says, “This isn’t so unique anymore but ‘Couchsurfing’ is essentially a large travel community where you can stay with local hosts (around the world) for free. Some of the closest friends I’ve made, are through this website!”
Ameya in the digital world: Blog | Facebook | Instagram




13 individuals.
13 individual stories in a capsule.
They ditched the excuse and live the life they love.
Them and the 10 from last year's feature - who still work AND travel.

Jim Rohn nailed it when he said, "“If you really want to do something, you'll find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse.”

Your move now...

Better still, are you one such schemer too? 
Or do you happen to know one? 
Are you putting that story out there to inspire the rest of us?


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Quotes I Live By

“To invent your own life's meaning is not easy, but it's still allowed, and I think you'll be happier for the trouble.”

Bill Watterson

Cartoonist and the author of the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver

Poet

सुकून मिलता है दो लफ्ज़ कागज़ पर उतार कर, चीख भी लेता हूँ और आवाज भी नहीं होती

Unknown

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