“Like success, happiness to me is a journey, not a destination.”
As told to Sonali Brahma
It was exhilarating to see the varying landscapes in shades of brown and green and blue. I remember sitting on the steps of the door of the railway compartment, holding my father’s hand, the chaiwalas going “chaaiiyaa, chaaiiyaa, kaapee kaapee” at railway junctions, eating the food from the train's pantry and finding it utterly delicious. We called friendly strangers 'uncle and aunty', filled water at stations with my father, and then hurried back into the train. We waved out to the kids in the villages as the train sped further away from them, and brought us closer to our destination.
I think I was born to travel. The earliest memories I have are of me travelling on a train for two days with my parents every summer, from Thiruvananthapuram to Pune, where my grandparents lived. When we settled down in Pune for my higher education, the journeys did not end--they only took different routes. I went on various treks with my friends. I loved to do new things, loved to explore the unknown. My maternal uncle, a mountaineer, took me on my first trek to Rajgarh, a fort near Pune. And then, I trekked from Gangotri to Tapovan, and discovered the magnificent Himalayas when I was just 16!
I was average at studies, but got to work with some good names in information and technology, such as Mphasis, Extentia and Druva Inc. In 2005, I met Anoop, my husband. He is a meta-polyglot, a musician, a programmer and a traveller. He is the biggest influence in my life even today. When two die-hard travellers meet, they do exactly what the others predict they will do: travel together. Till date, we have travelled to 27 countries across five continents!
Then, in 2011, my baby was born--BuffyFish. I had taken the first step to make travel my work and living. I had quit my 12-year-long corporate grind so I could be with BuffyFish and raise it with all my love. Like Andre Gide said, “Man cannot discover new oceans, unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
BuffyFish is the name of an owl that is found in South-east Asia. It became my raison d'être, my purpose, my passion, my profession.
BuffyFish is a travel start-up, with its headquarters in Pune, that customises leisure, luxury and adventure trips to any destination in the world. We also have fixed departure road trips, by motorcycles, bicycles and cars, to different destinations around the world. Among the many trips we have done, a few I will always cherish are the 5,000 km drive along the coast of the Indian Peninsula, from Mumbai to Kolkata via Kanyakumari, over 28 days. I did this with six other women in a Mahindra-sponsored Scorpio. And an all-women trip to Ladakh. We did both last year. On the anvil this year are trips to Bhutan and Italy.
Travelling is my passion, and I have made it my life’s mission to gift people amazing travel experiences. When I am not travelling, I am armchair-traveling--reading up on places and things across the world. I have met so many beautiful people in my travels, but the one I remember reading about is Nomadic Matt. Matt is 35 years old. He is a full-time traveller and one of the most famous travel bloggers of our times. Like his name, he is a true nomad at heart, in soul, and in real life. I would like to be at least somewhat like him. Travel allows you to be free, to learn and even earn. While the money is decent, the main perk is ‘travelling’.
I call myself an ‘Unsettler’ for life! It does not mean I am an “anxious” or a “worried” person. It is just that I like the traveling, the meandering, the unfixed life.
We, as women, need to break stereotypes if we are to follow our hearts. Travel needs you to step out of the house ever so often; I had the courage to do so. We all need to find our own calling and chase it like we chased the rainbow back when we were kids.