Rashi Anand is the founder of Lakshyam, an NGO that primarily focuses on Child Welfare, Women empowerment, Health, and Education. She was awarded the ‘Social Entrepreneur of the year’ by Entrepreneur India Summit 2013. Rashi also runs an advertising & marketing agency called Mirrorz to primarily fund her NGO. An ardent traveller herself, this article is a word-by-word account of the young social activist and entrepreneur, Rashi Anand.
Travel is my soul food. Like food & water, it is a necessity.
I was born and brought up in a small-town Ranchi, Jharkhand. Being the younger one in the family I was spoilt, pampered, and too cared for. Credits to my overprotective parents, the childhood phase was a swift breeze in the timeline that I don’t even remember half of it.
It was during my college days, the insect of travel bit me. There were these talks about Lansdowne being a wonderful destination and the existence of exotic tree house resorts. This made me incredibly curious & I wanted to go to Lansdowne, stay alone in a tree house, read books, listen to music, and explore.
My parents said a big ‘NO’ as it was only a year since I had left Ranchi and moved to Delhi. Solo trip for them was a very big deal which is understandable enough.You are not big enough
There is no safety for girls
You will get lost
Their reasons were endless. The conversation went on for 2 months but it was still a clear ‘NO’.
But, I couldn’t just resist the urge and got my train tickets booked, told no one and left for Landsdowne. In my head, thinking I will inform my family and friends once I reach.
I reached Lansdowne early morning. Super excited, I took a cab and went to the hills. Since it was wee hours in the morning, I decided to call home a while later. But totally engrossed in the experience, I forgot. Apparently, my mom had been trying to talk to me for the entire day and because of the lack of connectivity, I didn’t receive the calls. Confused, my mom had contacted my friend who then broke into my pg only to find me missing. That was when everything broke loose.
Assuming I had been kidnapped, a police complaint was filed. By the time, I managed to find network and then, it came flooding in – the texts, the missed calls, and the context. I called back.
While the entire story was a bumpy rollercoaster ride, at the end of it, I was given a free pass to travel anywhere. It came with two conditions – one to take care of myself and the other to keep my parents informed.
The incident took place when I was 22 and after this, there was no turning back from travel.
Maldives, Mauritius, London, Scotland, France, Germany, Turkey, Sri Lanka, UAE, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Belgium
Srinagar, Gulmarg, Sonamarg, Patiala, Amritsar, Ludhiana, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kutch belt, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Puri, Bhopal, Darjeeling, Gangtok, Calcutta, and major parts of Kerala, Uttarakhand, Himachal, & Rajasthan
Local travel & culture
There is something very attractive about the lesser known, unexplored places. Unlike the regular tourist destinations, they carry an authentic vibe which is true to their own culture. I have always looked out for such local experiences. Tasting the local food, interacting with the local people, getting to know about the local culture, shopping the local way, and lodging at a local homestay.
My trip to Rishikesh with my roommate during college was my first instance with the local way of travelling. A striking contrast to my family vacations which normally involves fancy places, meticulous planning, and comfortable transit, the trip to Rishikesh was a huge eye-opener. It widened my perspective on travel and opened a new world of opportunities.
The trip started with a jarring bus journey from the Kashmere Gate, stay at a compact Dharamshala homestay, and frequent stops by the budget-friendly eateries along the way. This made me realize that there is so much to travel than just ticking off popular attractions.
Pick of the lot
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Talking about travel, someone once asked me if there’s a destination I would visit twice. While I have never thought of doing something like that thinking about it now, I do have few places to revisit – Monte Carlo, Dharamkot, and Miami.
Monte Carlo is a charming French city with a vibrant culture. Thanks to the array of magnificent cars, casinos, and resorts, you will literally feel like a millionaire every day. The people, cafes, and the streets add to the bustling nature of the city.
Often overlooked, the hill station of Dharamkot over McLeodGanj is one of my favourites. Turn around and you will find cute little cafes, traditional homes, yoga workshops, and hipsters lying on the ground soaking up the sun. I have had the best Mexican food here, seen the quaintest little cafes, and stayed in a local home where every morning the aunty will give chai in a huge steel glass while her mother-in-law sits beside you sharing beautiful stories of the village. The intense shamanic dance and the intriguing drums music naturally uplift your consciousness to a whole different level.
And Miami. Well, if your intention is to get drunk and party in the beach all night.
Crazy memories & souvenirs of value
Party and Amsterdam go hand in hand. And parties always get crazier. It was my 25th birthday and I had taken a trip to Europe. What’s a better place to celebrate your birthday than Amsterdam? The city overflows with coffee shops that sell drugs legally and a nirvana experience was something highly recommended. Totally excited by the recommendation, I ordered a nirvana. A couple of minutes into the experience, the waiter comes by – “Don’t waste your time or your money if you don’t know how to use it”, he said in an angry tone and took away the order. We broke into a laughter.
Along with crazy memories like these, I also get souvenirs that help me better remember the city. Locally-made, handicrafts are my first priority. They are intricately designed by the artisans and convey a story that best reflects the culture. My house is filled with these.
I am also a diary collector. I have a huge collection of diaries with different shapes, designs, and textures. I have made it a rule to collect at least one, locally made from every place I visit.
So far the best souvenir I have got is a porcelain painting from Germany along with a porcelain piglet clock from the same country.
Travel, life, and beyond
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Travel is my soul food. Like food & water, it is a necessity. I start getting restless if I go 2-3 months without travel. My focus and concentration fade away till the time my travel plans are fixed. As a practice, I work day & night for 3 months straight and when the travel urge hits me, I just vanish. Thankfully with internet connectivity and technology, I have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world.
I love solo trips. I hold it close to my heart and I prefer travelling solo over group travel. It satiates my appetite for ‘me’ time. Solo travel is when I do all the thinking and plan my future plan of action.
I easily get bored when I am not travelling or working. So, I start cleaning my wardrobes. It’s funny right! I go a level higher and I start decorating my wardrobe with tiny little small handmade things. Cleaning my wardrobe has now become a hobby. If everything is already perfect, I mess it up and then I rearrange the clothes again. That is how paranoid I am.
This June, I will be heading to Kufri in Himachal and Pangot in Uttarakhand, followed by Spiti sometime this summer. My next international trip is to Spain and Amsterdam in July. After July, I haven’t actually thought much except taking part in the Pushkar Mela the year-end. Instinctive travel is fun and there is always something surprising to experience.
Once a year go some place you’ve never been before – Dalai Lama
Until next time,
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