Road less travelled

Interview

Road less travelled

Soaking in  culture: Harsha Bhogle in Varanasi.

Harsha Bhogle has a new show on the tube, and no, it’s not about cricket. Donning a new cap — that of a travel show host, he shares tidbits about the new
series, ‘Travel India with Harsha Bhogle’. Excerpts from the interview:

Cricket commentator to travel anchor — why this change of field?
I always wanted to do something other than cricket. Doing similar work over a period of time tends to get monotonous and makes you rigid. Through my new avatar of a travel anchor, I aim to reinvent myself. And of course, I was always keen on exploring India — the facet unknown or less explored by people. During the course of the show, I visited Kutch in Gujarat where ships are made by hand. Never knew that! Also, it was astounding to see the faith people have in the Karni Mata temple in Bikaner, Rajasthan, famously known as the rat temple.

You like travelling?
Call me a lazy and a reluctant traveller. It’s pretty strange, considering I have jaunted across the world as a cricket commentator, but I haven’t been able to roam around any of these places as the schedule is strict and tight. It’s all about going to your hotel from the airport, then to the stadium and back. Therefore, I had to crawl out my comfort zone to anchor the show — it was a definite challenge, a completely different yard. Personally, I like vacationing with family in Australian South Africa and New Zealand. These destinations are a few of my favourite hot spots.

India has already been explored by foreigners and Indians alike through varied travel shows. Do you have anything new to offer?
When I was offered this programme, I chose not to see other travel shows as I wanted to explore India just like any other traveller would do. ‘Travel India With Harsha Bhogle’ is not about the history and culture of India. We haven’t concentrated on anything particular on the show. The idea is to see India through a whole new perspective. For instance, showcasing the modern side of Delhi — its fine dining restaurants and the luxurious lifestyle people follow or sharing the innate love for food every Lucknowi has. In Varanasi, we talked about cleaning the Ganga, in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, I met Buddhists monks, while in Sunderbans, I learnt how people are living in constant fear of the river rather than tigers. What also makes this series different is  that whatever we have shot is completely unscripted. It’s just the travel route which was scripted. So we made many unplanned halts, like the one we made in Thiruvananthapuram where we featured how wind mills are used in the city to produce electricity without using any fuel.

What’s more challenging — cricket commentary or hosting a travel show?  
Initially, cricket commentary was much easier because I hadn’t done a travel show before. What secerns cricket commentary from anchoring a travel show is the fact that the commentary has a different pulse associated with it. There is something about doing live television while the latter requires a lot of patience.

Learnt anything new through this experience?
During the course of the show, it was interesting to note that we develop such memorable conversations and relationships with fellow passengers on a train journey — that we spend a few hours or days with them, bid goodbye and never meet them again. The entirety of the phenomenon was something I never experienced before as I have rarely travelled on a train.

Any culture shock while visiting places?
Visiting the Karni Mata temple in Rajasthan left me feeling uneasy as there were rats all over the place. But, eventually I realised that all this did not matter, altlest for people who thronged the temple with a lot of faith by their side.
 So what’s keeping you busy apart from cricket and travel?
I love writing and also conduct a management speaking program for corporates with my wife, which is deeply satisfying.

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