The Lost and Found Box of Life: Travel
Travel: five words and a million stories, travellers the story tellers with whom we want to be. All of us are travellers; we see the world change a bit each day. For many travel means expense, planned posh trips to villas and then there are people like Rishi who have made it their way of life. Better known as The Indian Traveller amongst his followers, Rishi dared not only to dream of travelling but believed he could do so. Today he has made several solo trips and seen the Great Indian Desert to the mighty Himalayas. Still in his early twenties he’s carved a niche for himself, somehow engineers tend to do that always don’t they? Here in this conversation we discover his story.
What does travel means to you?
For some, it’s food for their soul, for others it is an escape from reality. And for me, it’s the Lost and Found Box of Life. Every time I get into my travel-pants and head out to explore a new place, I realise that I leave something behind.
During my first solo trip, I lost fear, fear of the unknown, fear of being alone! And, over the many trips that have been a part of my life now, I’ve have lost quite a few things. I lost hesitation, luxury, awkwardness, restraint, self-consciousness and also, one prized camera. But what I found was much more prized and valued than the materialistic things that I misplaced and lost. I found myself, I found peace, I found my individuality, I found my calling, I found my soul, I found Myself and most of all, I found my purpose to live – Travel and explore!
Every time people ask me how I manage to travel so much and what really drives me just leave everything behind and start a journey, I give them the same answer; “There is nothing that makes me happier than travelling. If not now, then when?” It’s simple.
I travel not for the destinations but for the journeys. Visiting a random place, meeting people whom you have never seen before, sitting under a huge tree for hours together, camping beside the river under a starry night, walking on the streets of peaceful hill stations, trying different local foods, playing with the local kids who are walking to their schools, experiencing the first and the last snow of the season, catching the first available train/bus to a new destination, away from the normal routine city life; if all this isn’t exciting then I don’t know what is!
It all started when I discovered my passion for photography. And once I started pursuing my passion, it pushed me into travelling. During my initial days, I remember leaving my room thousands of times with or without any company, just to click and perfect my skills at photography. Slowly, it started coming to me and I started enjoying this. It gave me a high that I had never experienced before. I loved the reality of everyday life, the liveliness of the moments and the beauty in the stories of places and its people.
Travel not to learn about the place you are visiting, but travel to learn about yourself.
What all places have you travelled till now?
2014 was all about me getting a hang of photography and I made sure I chiselled myself to become a photographer and wasn’t too much into travelling. Adventure and travelling came to during my graduation, while I was at Chennai. This is when I started covering the nearby places like Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry. This is when I actually fell in love with the idea of combining travel and photography.
It was my first solo trip to Himachal Pradesh in February last year that ignited the spark of visiting new places and meeting new people. Post this experience, at the drop of the hat, I’d pack and leave to start a whole new adventure.
Next was a road trip to Sanasar(Jammu) from Rajasthan covering some parts of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. This was one of the most epic experiences I have had so far. I have covered almost all the major places in Rajasthan, by road – forts and palaces including the annual Camel Fair in Pushkar. My backpacking experiences are also some great memories to live with. Visiting Chail, Kasuali and Dolanji in Himachal Pradesh had been one such backpack trip.
On my trip to Agra, I met a few fellow instagrammers and it was during this trip that I actually realised the potential of an app in providing a platform for all the like-minded people to interact, share and learn. A shout out to Streets of India (@streets.of.india) for educating me on this subject. I thank them for giving me that opportunity to push my boundaries further.
I recently I went on a six day trip to Kolkata, Darjeeling and Sikkim. It was quite an experience to be there in the month of December. Although most of the roads were closed in the northern parts of Sikkim, it was worth it. I saw roads that were completely covered under snow, lakes at 14,000 feet starting to freeze and dense forests covered with mist all day long. It was only on the last day of my trip that I saw the Sun and its beautiful light play with the snow covered mountains and dense pine trees.
How does black and white vs. colour play into your work? Do you find them to be totally separate beasts – or complementary?
Well, for me they are just like two different weapons used by a soldier on the field. Both of them are essential, but one should know what to use when. You cannot waste a grenade to kill a single man and similarly, you cannot take out a pistol to defend yourself against 5-6 enemies (unless you’re in a Bollywood movie, especially a Rohit Shetty one).
Black and white tones capture the rawness, intensity and emotion of the subject. Without looking at the real life colours of the subject you understand the intent of the photographer behind that monochrome picture. On the other hand, a coloured photograph shows the life in the subject, it brings out the vividness of various elements present in the composition.
Contrast plays a major role in monochrome photographs while proper hues define a coloured picture.
What gear/technology/equipment do you use?
I use a Nikon D5200 with a set of three lenses – a 18-55 Kit lens, a 35 mm prime and a 70-300mm MF. I use basic UV and ND filters for some of my pictures. For post processing, prefer Adobe Lightroom.
Why do people want to travel so much these days?
The desire to travel has increased quite noticeably these days but I won’t agree to the fact that people have only recently started to travel. Everyone has always wanted to travel. If you ask your parents, they will tell you about the places they really wanted to travel to but couldn’t.
The desire to take a break from our daily schedules and see new places has always been a part of human tendency, but the resources or time, and sometimes both were lacking. Today, a lot of resources are available for travelling. Many customised tours and trips are available to suit your moods and preferences that cater to families, corporate groups or just a bunch of friends.
Another thing that has played a major role is active use of Social Media. Few years ago, people could hardly share pictures and information about their trips and journeys to beautiful places. But now, with the all the different social media platforms, people are sharing their stories, pictures and experiences with a large group of people. This, as a whole is acting as a push for others to go to those places and experience the same.
This is true even in my case. I decided to travel to Sikkim only after I saw the beautiful pictures of the lakes and mountains clicked by one of my friends who shared his experience over one of his online profiles.
So yes, the desire to travel has always been there!
Tell us one of your worst experiences so far.
The one that I can recollect is a recent one which happened in Tsomgo Lake near Gangtok. A friend, Kunal, had accompanied me on this trip and we had booked a car to go to the lake, Nathula Pass and Baba Mandir. It started to snow at Baba Mandir and it was slowly getting dark and cold. (Sun sets are experienced there at around 4.30PM). Snow was literally eating up the roads. When we were on our way back and had covered almost half the distance, Kunal realised that he had forgotten his lens at the spot where we were taking pictures, and this was about 10kms away from where we were right then. While I chose to get down there to capture some more images, Kunal and the driver set off to find his lens. For the initial half an hour I was busy clicking pictures not realising that it was getting extremely cold (-1 degree) and I was not wearing my gloves as I had left them in the car.
45 minutes passed and then it was almost going to be an hour since the two had left for the lens hunt. The biting cold was numbing my hands and I had started noticing blisters too. I could sense the panic attack – They hadn’t returned.
Panic attacks can be bad. The mind is forced to think of all possible negative things – is the car safe? Did they get struck in snow? Did the car meet with an accident? And if it did, how will I go down and inform the local people about it? I was very scared. I also started framing ways to break the news to Kunal’s parents.
I happened to start a conversation with a lady at a tea stall nearby. It was then that she mentioned that she too was waiting for the same car as she had to be driven to Gangtok. No longer than a few minutes, we saw our car, the Bolero!
This might not sound as a worst experience, but it sure was a memorable experience. Mind games, I tell you! I laugh about it now, but back then, I was scared, really scared.
Experiences shape you. I’m beign moulded each day, learnig new things, I’m The Indian Traveller on my way.
Instagram handle- the.indian.traveller