On a discovery of self and the world around

Digital Voyagers

I have not told half of what I saw. Marco Polo.

After travelling across countries and continents for 24 years in 13th century, Marco Polo was confined to a prison cell in Venice where he was restrained to narrating his travel escapades to just his fellow cellmates. 

Were he alive today, he would have probably been tweeting about it or putting this as a Facebook status. If a little more tech savvy, he would have a started a travel blog.

“Facebook is a perfect medium for travellers to connect nowadays because it’s where people are at their personal self, more ready than ever to explore”, says Suman Doogar, a psychology teacher and a founder member of Nomadic shoes, a growing platform for travel-loving Delhiites to connect and plan their trips together.

With more than 1,500 followers and several uploaded photographs on its FB page, the group plans its trips by pooling money from members, without any help from travel agents and mostly with help of local people of place where the next destination is.The group members come from varied backgrounds and age groups.

 “We are surprised by the mix of people who travel with us, in most of our trips we have more number of girls and sometimes elderly folks”, says Suman, having travelled to far flung corners of the country with friends, and sometimes complete strangers.

Chavvi Bodhisattva, a member of a similar group, Delhi Heritage Walk, aims to travel to places with interesting historical backgrounds. “As I was student of history at JNU, my travels are mostly, but not always, driven by historical attachments. I can’t separate my passion with my journey plans.”

The group started four years ago in collaboration with others history-lovers, aiming to connect people to the rich past and historical monuments in and around Delhi. However, now any place with a beautiful natural or historical setting is game. “My personal favourite is the area in and around the northern part of Bengal, an oasis of solace with undiscovered beauty and green forests. Apart from that, I loved the Rajasthani town of Shikhawati with its traditional painted havelis”, says Chavvi. 

Dheeraj Sharma, a software engineer, is the founder of a travel blog ‘Devil on Wheels’, which aims to combines group travelling with social causes. “We help the people of the region by funding children’s education and distributing medicines to old people.”

What started as a blog where members and lovers of Himalayan beauty shared their travel experiences gradually took the shape of a public service campaign, where anybody can contribute to causes by directly reaching to the local communities, eliminating the role of middlemen and NGOs.

His blog now has a separate page ‘DoW-Responsible Tourism’, where the members together plan their next expeditions. “We recently organised a ‘mega-meet’ in small hamlet of Ladakh, where the members assembled and worked to bring smiles to the village kids by distributing stationary and other study material.”

However, all is not well in travellers’ paradise. Suman, who also likes to travel alone, has had her moments of fear. “Recently I was stranded at Najeebabad, Uttar Pradesh after dark which was a bit scary. But an elderly gentleman accompanied me till I found a bus back home.” However the incident didn’t really put her travel zeal down. “Safety is a frame of mind. The more you travel and explore, the less you feel unsafe.”

Chavvi, however, is lucky to always find companions. “Whenever I pack my backpack, I always find somebody ready for an adventure.” 

Dheeraj is happy with the response his blog is receiving. “It really feels great to contribute to society. I am planning to take the project to the next level by including more people to contribute towards these causes.”

Suman feels that there is a traveler hidden inside all of us. “There is that one pair of shoes in our closet which we seldom use; we buy it out of an impulse, an unguarded moment of our real self. The idea behind nomadic shoes is to make people use that pair of shoes to discover themselves.”

Marco Polo would have agreed. And liked it on Facebook!

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