For some, travel is a passion, for others an adventure. But for Sumitra Senapaty, who is the founder of a travel club especially for women, travel is her life.
“Right from childhood, I wanted to travel. I finally got the chance to do the same when I became a travel writer. On one occasion, when I was in New Zealand, I came across a bunch of women who were enjoying themselves. When I asked them, they told me that they were from a travel club in London and had just met before the journey. That’s what put the idea in my head. I thought that there is no such platform in India. That is how ‘Women of Wanderlust’ (WOW), came into being.”
Ask Sumitra the hardships she faced, and she’s quick to answer, “The biggest part was telling people that I exist. There were no social networking sites back then. I depended entirely on word-of-mouth publicity. My first Ladakh trip group consisted of grandmothers of my children’s friends. I wanted any one female to come with us.”
About the different places WOW has explored, Sumitra details, “Our first Indian trip was Leh, and our very first international one was Egypt. We’ve travelled to places in South America like Brazil, Argentina, Peru and Ecuador, Japan, Tibet, China, Turkey, Greece, Mediterranean, Cambodia and Myanmar.”
She adds, “In India we’ve done places like the Andaman, Kaziranga, Rajasthan and Kashmir.” Sumitra says with a smile, “We don’t go to regular places as we don’t believe in the usual spots like Malaysia and Singapore. There are women who think they need to shop in Dubai but I don’t encourage this. What isn’t available in India now?”
Travelling is an educative process in itself. Sumitra opines, “We learnt a lot about Buddhism in Myanmar, and in Vietnam, we interacted with people and realised what they went through during the war. In Japan, we took part in a tea ceremony and learnt why they bow so much.”
She believes, “Women are very adventurous, and they are really keen to explore and learn.” While travelling with the group, Sumitra’s realised that women are also more finicky and specific about the details. “Food is one difficulty. It’s very difficult to satisfy everyone. When travelling, you get what the country gives you. I do try to compensate when such instances come up by taking namkeens and pickles.”
Ask Sumitra, if travel has ever been a difficulty for her, and she thinks and says, “Strangely, never! I come back from a trip and I decide about not going to the place for a while. Travel’s an addiction.”
Ask Sumitra if she thinks of Bangalore as a spot to come to and she says, “I’m biased about this city since I grew up here. The City has its own good spots. It’s a nice and I like the buzz here. Bangalore is also very travel-friendly.
Six out of 10 people we take to different trips are from Bangalore.”