When one catches the travel bug, it hard not to indulge it. But the itinerary almost always includes mainstream tourist spots like Paris, New York or London (and if we are talking local, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata). As hard as it is to deviate from such popular culture, some try to find their way to unique locations and experience wonders that are invisible to even the most discerning of eyes. ‘Travellers Inc’ is one such group that looks for novel travel experiences, whether it’s in Karnataka or destinations on the other side of the globe.
Not only are they inquisitive about different cultures and traditions, but they are also keen to share this knowledge with others. They make it a point to meet every two or three months to discuss their travel stories and logistics. Drubo Chaudhari, one of the founding members, says that he and two of his friends started the group three years back because there are many facets to a journey that are sometimes left unexplored. Here, people get to share their experiences and interests, thereby forming sub-groups that cater to various audiences.
“Although travel is a central experience, there are many elements that go into it, whether it’s food, wildlife, sports or art. Not everyone has to be there for all the meetings; the sub-groups can meet and take something away.” He adds, “If we want to travel somewhere, we have to sift through tonnes of information. But if we are with like-minded people, the transmission of information is easier.”
Elaborates Sanjoy Gupta, an avid traveller, “There is a lot of information on the internet but what we found is that once we are done with the usual travel plans of Paris, New York and such others, we look for something newer, interesting and in-depth. It’s about novel travel experiences and people sharing their first-hand encounters so that more can create such memories.”
Explaining the term ‘novel’, Sanjoy adds, “Novel in the sense experiences and events that are different. Whether it’s within India or elsewhere, members or guests are invited to talk about a chosen topic.” During the last meet, they discussed the lesser known festivals of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.
It doesn’t end at visiting exotic locations — “Travel is visual so we like to have good quality photographs,” says Sanjoy.
Even armchair travellers get to feel places. It also encourages varying interests and styles of travelling. Deepa Muthanna says that she likes to be looked after and doesn’t like the work that has to be put into planing a trip. “I recently visited Turkey and my sister did all the research work. I love travelling as long as I’m not the one who’s deciding.”
Her husband, Nirad Muthanna, is another avid traveller and describes some of his journeys. “I am fond of nature, wildlife and the outdoors. But what I find on the internet or through travel agents is not necessarily what I’m looking for. I want something unique and personalised. As I’m really interested in scuba diving, I visit places around Sri Lanka and the Great Barrier Reef. I go to old shipwrecks and see how the seas have changed the ships. I recently visited a sailing ship called ‘Tango’ that sunk in the 1870s.”
As Drubo mentioned earlier, each member has their own area of interest. Rehana Chaudhuri, who owns an art studio in the City, says that when she travels, she looks out for art galleries and scenic beauty. Soon, she and Drubo will be adding Croatia and San Antonio to their already extensive list of travel spots they have visited. Sanjoy enjoys travelling in Asia and looks out for cultural anomalies.
“I’m interested in culture and how society works. I like to compare different regions with India. I also like talking to the locals about religion, food and cultural habits.”
While the youngest in the group is 28, the eldest members are in their 80s. One such member is Meera Seth, who does not lack in enthusiasm or energy. She recently returned from a trip to Iran, Turkey and Uzbekistan.
“The first trip I made was to Tibet, for almost a month, 23 years ago. Out of that month, 10 days was trekking and camping. Then, I couldn’t afford to visit many places as I had small kids. But now that I have all the time to myself, I go wherever I feel like.” She has also been to Burma, Cambodia and South America. She adds that she likes adventure trips in particular.
Her daughter Kumkum Seth appreciates the group because it has opened up her mind to many areas. “We have certain associations and stereotypes attached to a place. For me, I never thought I’d visit Australia. But when I heard from someone about Tasmania, I knew I had to go there.” The visual presentations help strengthen their decisions of where to travel.
For details, e-mail Usha@Travellers-Inc.com