Traveling is not to tick-off the bucket list
“Travelling is not a completion of bucket lists, but an experience to savor life’s surprises.”
Welcome to Deepika’s World! From living with the Khasi tribes in remote villages of Meghalaya, while learning about marvelous Living Root Bridges, to playing badminton with nuns in a Bhutanese nunnery. From staying with Tibetan refugees in a traveler’s home-stay in Sikkim to learning pottery in central jungle of Khawasa (Madhya Pradesh), she has done it all. Deepika describes herself as a dreamer, a believer and a person who wears her heart on her sleeve. For her traveling is not about the destination, but the people of that destination. She looks at traveling as an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the world and the people in there, their dreams, lifestyle, culture, traditions and the challenges they face in their daily life.
Having grown up in a family of travel nerds, traveling is like second nature to Deepika. She says, “Initially, traveling had been all about ticking off the bucket-list, savoring a 5-course meal in a luxurious resort and reading a book by the poolside. As we grew up, a sudden sickness compelled me to go off the grid and precisely then, my love for going to offbeat travel destinations took root. I started dreaming of undiscovered places, the ones that are invisible on maps, disconnected from mobile networks, places whose existence can only be stamped by the presence of its inhabitants. People, who are yet to be discovered, lost in time, who go by their daily existence, unaware of the world that moves towards globalization, and economic development.”
She ditches five-star hotels to opt for homestays and rustic style to add an experiential trip to one’s travel stories. Her idea of traveling is to leave the bucket list behind and immerse yourself in the divine beauty of the destination. A slow pace in travel helps in recreating an authentic story. She says that everyone needs to travel in a relaxed and leisurely manner to enjoy the essence of the places.
With a deep thought on her face, she says, “I like the challenges posed while traveling offbeat as it forces me to seek answers to the questions I never thought before.” About the Meghalaya trip she took last year, she speaks, “For the first time, I did not want to tick off places from my to-do list. I did not beat myself into visiting the places that Google insisted. Instead, I decided to give the little-hidden waterfalls, beautiful rock pools, edgy cliffs and abandoned trails, a chance to take me on a memorable journey.” Narrating her experiences in Meghalaya which had left her amazed, she said, “In a tiny hamlet called Mawphalang, I was hosted by a local Khasi family. Now you would imagine the villagers to be leading an incredibly simple life. But this family has built three cottages as a home-stay for travelers. These cottages have been constructed by the family, consisting of primarily wooden and simple interiors. The family runs up on power generated through solar and windmill set-ups and is completely disconnected from the state power grid. The food served by the family is purely organic and made with locally purchased ingredients”.
There have been times when people helped her in tough situations. While recalling an incident, she tells,” Last year, while hiking the Takstang Monastery, I fell, exhausted due to high altitude sickness. All of a sudden, a Bhutanese guy came around and walked me down almost in his arms. He served me some hot lemon tea and biscuits and then vanished into thin air. Though I didn’t even get a chance to speak to him or ask his name, he will remain in my memory always.”
Travelling impacts us in ways we don’t realize. It challenges and teaches us lessons that we carry with us forever. In the course of our journeys, strangers become friends; our weaknesses become our strength since we move from our comfort zone and adjust to different environments.
After completing her masters in Event Management and Public Relations, Deepika worked in a PR company for more than five years. Unlike the typical scenario, she wasn’t bored with her job, no jealous co-workers, and no annoying boss. In fact, she was good at her work which in turn presented her with even more opportunities to travel. She wanted to travel more and translate those experiences in ink. The itch to write persisted, and in 2015, she finally quit to opt for a more flexible life. She had only $100 in her bank account when she quit, which too got exhausted after her trips to Meghalaya and Bhutan. However, she immediately received a freelance PR assignment that kept her income steady. She also works with different travel brands that support her trips. She perfectly manages to juggle her personal and travel life and is always there beside her family whenever they need her.
It indeed takes a lot of courage to leave everything and set off to an unknown destination. Deepika, we salute you, the amount of perseverance you showed and the strength you displayed for chasing after your dream.
If you like her story, visit her blog Feet On The Map to follow her adventures!