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. This is Rashi’s reflection on her life so far and her tryst with travel.
I was born and brought up in a small-town called Ranchi in 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.
Fast forward, I am in Landsdowne and super excited with the experience I totally forget to call home. 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 a signal 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 from then on, there was no turning back from travel.
International destinations visited
On falling in love with local 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.
I make it a rule to explore every destination I visit in the local way possible. In Sri Lanka, we rode on buses & autorickshaws, skipped the famous cities & took a trip to remote villages of Neluwa and Alagollewa. A striking contrast to my family vacations which normally involves fancy places, meticulous planning, and comfortable transit, trips like these were a huge eye-opener. It widened my perspective on travel and opened a new world of opportunities.
There is a warmth in dining at the traditional homes of Sri Lanka and the beautiful stories about the village that come along make it an absolute treat. You can never get such experiences at any acclaimed restaurant. This made me realize that there is so much to travel than just ticking off popular attractions.
If I can go back
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 & Miami.
Monte Carlo is a charming French city with a vibrant culture. Look around and you’ll find 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.
On the other hand, the eclectic vibe of Miami is hard to resist. Add beautiful people, sunny beaches, and rave parties to the same basket and the city now is overly tempting.
On crazy memories & souvenirs of value
If you are travelling so much in life, you are bound to have crazy experiences every once in a while. One such amazing incident happened in Amsterdam. Party and Amsterdam go hand in hand. And parties always get crazy. 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 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 says in an angry tone and takes 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 developed a habit to collect at least one, locally-made diary 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
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 them close to my heart and I prefer travelling solo over group travel, any day. It satiates my appetite for ‘me’ time. Solo travel is when I do all the thinking and plan my future course of action.
I easily get bored when I am not travelling or working. So, I start cleaning my wardrobes. Quite funny actually. I even go a level higher and start decorating my wardrobe with miniature handcrafts. Cleaning my wardrobe has now become a hobby. If everything is already perfect, I still mess it up and then I rearrange the clothes again. That is how paranoid I am.
My next trip is to Spain and Amsterdam in July. After July, I haven’t actually thought much except for taking part in Pushkar Mela the year-end. Instinctive travel is more 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,
About the author
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. A young social activist and entrepreneur, Rashi Anand is an inspiration to many.
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