“One story spins into another”
“I like to call myself a wanderer, a survivor. People like to fondly call me ‘Bawaara mann.”
27-year-old Sukrit Gupta hails from a village called Pondha in Dehradun. When I ask him to recount about his childhood days he says,” Being from Uttarakhand has its own perks in terms of growing up with nature. I loved to stay outdoors. My friends and I, was always an outdoorsy bunch going swimming in the rivers or hiking in the forests.”
Being from a bustling metropolitan like Delhi, where instead of going outdoors we love to sit inside our cooled AC rooms, I sure felt envious when I heard about his pact with nature. The only time I felt a connection with nature was when I visited parts of North East India. As I listen to him talk, I remember those times with nostalgia.
I know people in my circle who have left their jobs just to pursue their passion and let me tell you – it is pretty scary and daunting. Knowing Sukrit has gone down the same path, I asked him what it feels like to quit and travel.
“Truth is, I never felt like I had a job. I was running a semi-successful startup when I decided to leave and travel. The setup was making money, but it wasn’t heading in the direction I wanted it to be. Plus, I was through with Delhi life. I desperately longed for a change.”
I am a Delhite myself and know how the city can get pretty exhausting. I changed the subject and came to his first date with traveling.
He laughs. “Well, that came by accident in 2012. I was at a gas station after a weekend trip with friends where I met this guy riding a Royal Enfield. We started chit chatting with him to kill time. He was a mountaineer for a living. We got mildly interested and inquired about what it takes to become one. Boom! Two weeks later a friend and I were on our way to Manali to pursue the Basic Mountaineering Course at ABVIMAS. I am a very impulsive person…” he says, seeing the surprised look on my face.
“So, from September 2012 until sometime in mid-2014, I was on the road, going to various destinations across India. Post that, I have lived around a couple of places. First, my native village in Uttarakhand, then over a year and a half in Nainital and now, I have a base in Manali. I basically have a home at all the places I love. I never feel like a tourist there.”
“And, your parents? Weren’t they scared to see you like this?” I asked.
” Nahi Nahi. My family is quite supportive. Initially, they were a bit worried but being fitness freaks themselves, but they like the fact that I pursue an active lifestyle and live away from the black holes our city lives eventually become.”
A digital nomad and climber, whether it is scaling new heights or climbing mountains, he has done it all. He introduces me to a new style of traveling- trekking expeditions.
“The best thing about climbing is the sense of adventure. Especially, exploring the place, the crevices, troughs of the land, the way saplings grow in selected places, the smell of the fresh mud. There is so much variety in climbing, including the landscapes and new friends that one makes. Climbing is a whole alternative lifestyle that exists, and people are oblivious to it.”
In Delhi, we are not used to random acts of kindness. We are merely glad if someone does not hurl expletives at us when there is a traffic jam. Maybe that is why he loves climbing- the pampering he gets from the natives where he visits.
“I adore the part when it starts feeling like home. Doesn’t it feel so good when people start recognizing you on the street and greet you, random invite for tea, and you join the local gossip circle? I like making my touristy spots my home.
Once in Darjeeling, I was hosted by a mother-son duo that ran a beer shack. They offered me a spare table to sleep on in the beer bar.
Every day early in the morning, the lady brewed fresh ‘Chhang’ (rice beer) for me, and at night I was offered the first jug for bed tea. It reminded of my mother.” he smiles.
Being an experienced traveler, he talks about some of the places he feels are not much touched upon like Uttarakhand – Sattal, Pindari, Kafni, Sunderdunga, Kasar Devi, Pithoragarh. I suggest you make them a part of your bucket list. He talks even more lovingly about the Kumaon region.”
But such bold travelers don’t forget their scary experiences. It is not that easy. Travelling is all about learning and Sukrit has had a tad too many of them.
“I was once trapped in an avalanche-prone area, pushed a motorbike with no brakes, light or life down Rohtang at 1 am, while it was raining. Not to mention that time I forgot my way through a forest, 35 km from human life during a cloud burst. That scared the hell out of me. You want more? “He looks at me seriously.
“One last one,” I said cheekily.
“Well, not to brag but I fixed my bike’s engine (it is a 37 years old Enfield) in the middle of a desert just using a pencil and a spanner. Did I tell you I was a major in Marketing? “He grins.
Since when does traveling make you an engineer?!
Stories make us vulnerably human. We are living in the cradle of stories waiting to happen. Every person has a story to tell. But travelers spin yarns better. And with this, we come to the end of yet another traveler story with a beautiful advice I got from him.
“Live in the moment. And let one story spin into another, on its own.”
Sukrit is currently based in Manali where he’s living and working with friends and co-workers. He says it’s just beginning to get awesome. Check out his travel startup 4Play.