'What we don't know mystifies us'

'What we don't know mystifies us'

Actor, traveller, biker and pilot Gul Panag wears all these hats with aplomb. However, her interests don’t stop there. She believes that there’s more to be done.

The actor is known not only for her carefully chosen roles but also for her love for travel. She is also part of the show called ‘Off Road with Gul Panag’.

If the first season of the show was all about exploring the toughest terrains of Ladakh, the second will see Gul and her friend Swaty unravelling the mystery of the Northeast which includes their drive through Meghalaya, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh with their dogs.

In an interview with Nina C George, Gul sheds light on her travel experiences.

How did you zero in on the Northeast?

The Northeast as a whole is very beautiful but it has not been mainstreamed into India as a tourist destination. What we don’t know mystifies us.

So the tour is an attempt to demystify and mainstream the Northeast for the average Indian traveller. My research also showed that Northeast is very safe for women. We have documented our travels on digital media and YouTube so that people can watch it whenever they want to.

What is the first thing that struck you about Northeast?

I have visited the Northeast before but I never had the chance to experience the culture. I wanted to explore and understand the small things that contributed to strengthening the ecosystem. I was delighted when I saw so many women out on the streets. They were managing tea and paan stalls, meat shops etc. This, I thought, was a sign of them being empowered.

Looks like Swaty and you are good travel companions. How did the two of you hit it off so well?

Swaty and I are absolute opposites. At the core, we are similar. We both like being on our feet and are runners. She’s an introvert while I am very talkative. Swati has the fear of heights and interestingly on our recent tour of Northeast, I made her go on the longest zipline. This helped her overcome her fear. Her presence is a calming factor. The fact that we are opposite in nature has made us stay together for so long.

Where are you two heading to next?

I want to explore the Nilgiris. Emotionally, I am attached to that place because I went to a boarding school in Lovedale. There are some beautiful tracks, lakes, tea gardens and the place is relatively safe.

How is it to travel with your dogs?

My dogs Vegas and Gina love to hit the road just like Swaty and I. The bumpy roads were at first a bit of a bother but the dogs are used to it now. They have found their safest spot on the floor of the car when we are driving because sometimes the drive can get a bit rough. I also carry plenty of dog food and walk them every three to four hours.

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