Leaving Home Base
I think of myself as an adventurer in both my professional and personal life, a favourite maxim being “If you aren’t living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.” Travel has always been my pathway to adventure, and since my earliest days at St. Stephen’s College, I have loved exploring the Himalayas, doing a different trek each summer with my buddies.
Even when work and career moved centre stage, my passion for travel remained. After an MA from the Delhi School of Economics in 1980, I moved to the United States for graduate studies at Princeton. Thereafter I worked as an economist for Wharton Econometrics, based in Philadelphia, but covering the Asia Pacific region. I was fortunate that this international job took me all over the world and fuelled my wanderlust.
I truly enjoy engaging with new people, places, and cultures. I believe that this is how one gets to know oneself better, an idea best expressed by Rudyard Kipling who wrote, “And what should they know of England who only England know?”
Coming Full Circle
In the late 1980s, my wife Saroj and I moved to Hong Kong, where I worked as the lead Asian economist with the Economist Intelligence Unit and then with Jardine Fleming, at the time the premier investment bank in Asia. Using Hong Kong as a base, I travelled extensively throughout Asia from top to bottom, seizing every opportunity to explore the rich and varied cultures of the region.
Just before the handover of Hong Kong to China, Saroj and I decided once again to uproot our family, which now included our two young daughters, Tarini and Mallika, and move back to India. The siren call of home left me both apprehensive and excited. Once again, I was taking a leap into the unknown.
Renewing a Love Affair
In India, my career followed an unpredictable direction. I ran the equity business of a French bank, helped set up the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, and led a captive KPO whose parent was located in Kuwait. Somehow none of these ventures led to a stable career outcome for me. But this had an unexpected benefit—it allowed me once again to explore the great outdoors and bring adventure back into my life.
In November 2002, I participated in the first “open” whitewater descent of the iconic Siang River in Arunachal Pradesh, more commonly known as the Great Brahmaputra in its lower reaches. My account of that trip was published in the travel section of the New York Times. And by then the fire was well and truly lit.
I find what I’m looking for
I know what I want to spend the rest of my life doing. I love to travel, I love to experience new places and peoples, and I love to write. In the words of the great fourteenth-century Moroccan traveller Ibn Battuta,“Traveling—it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” Combining all these passions, I have been on various adventures and cultural journeys over the last several years, and my travel pieces have appeared in a number of publications, including Condè Nast Traveller, Outlook Traveller, and Sommelier India.
Why should you travel? Because it can enrich you and change you in ways that you cannot begin to imagine. I believe in the power of travel to break down barriers, to forge friendships, to encourage tolerance and acceptance. I have made lifelong friends through my travels, overcome my inhibitions and prejudices, and created some priceless memories. The iconic American writer Henry Miller nailed it:“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.”
I hope my travel blog will inspire others to pack their bags and head out to explore unknown places, to connect with strangers, to get out of their comfort zone, and by doing that to discover themselves. Isn’t that what life is all about?
Enjoy the ride! I would love to hear from you—good, bad or ugly.