Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Prasad Np known popularly in the blog world as the Desi Traveler. If you want to read the stories behind the journeys, head to his blog. The pictures are breathtaking; the experiences real and invigorating. His blog is a favorite travel blog of mine. His foray into blogging is an interesting tale. Prasad peddled his soul for the security that his job in a US MNC offered. But as the itch to travel got uncontrollable, he started to blog at desi Traveler, which soon blossomed into one of the most read travel blogs in India. He continues to chase his dream of being a travel writer and photographer and is Chief Evangelist at Darter Photography. Over to Prasad…
I started traveling very early in life very much like how most desis got their first dose of travel in those days. We would visit grandparents during summer vacations or one of the holy cities in India to be willfully conned by unholy godmen that took a PK from some “Gola” to come and warn us about after all these years.
My first job was to fund a college Botanical Excursion. I needed money, so I started tutoring a naughty kid who made me realize how hard it is to make money. I pledged to never have kids but then I got my first cash, and I postponed the decision to a future date. Needless to say, we decided to have kids, and today we are proud parents of two daughters who enjoy traveling as much as we do. All our travels are with our daughters unless it is a business trip.
My blog desi Traveler originally was about family road trips and was called Kids & Car. I started traveling as a toddler, photographing as teen and blogging as an Uncle G. So the traveler in me is the oldest among my traveler, photographer and writer avatars.
Once I learned about blogging, the old fashioned me was forced to learn about new age mediums like Facebook, Twitter, Instaorgasm oops I mean Instagram and use them to connect with other travelers.
Travel teaches many things, and helps overcome prejudices and differences that have developed deep roots over millennia, as ancient societies interacted rarely. Most interactions ended in bloody battles and oppression of the losing side. No wonder a lot of us suffer from xenophobia and hide it under the mask of making fun or discriminating people who do not look like us. Shameful incidents of thrashing folks from North East in our metropolitan cities are a result of the same.
“You don’t look like me, so let me thrash you. I will find an excuse later, as I hate anybody who does not look like me”
Or sample this:
Oh you South Indians, you eat with your hands”
Oh you north Indians all you know in the name of dance is Balle Balle!
Oh you Gujjus —–
Oh you Bongs…
Replace the words with any race / culture /religion, and you will find a phrase trying to mock People that are not like us. All the prejudices, in my opinion, appeared as people rarely interacted even 50 years ago, and even now our interaction with folks from remote corners of country is limited.
But once you travel and meet people in different parts of the world, you realize how similar we are even with all our differences. Like my Brazilian friend, Daniel, whom I met in Kerala says “same same but different”. So you can understand my surprise when people ask me what kind of traveler I am, and they look at me with greater surprise when I say I am just a normal traveler, nothing special.
But the Q bomb continues, “But you must know if you are a traveler or a tourist?”
“Mm,” I mumble, “Well, I am not sure.”
“Where did you last go?“
“Simla with Missus and kids.“
“Simla, oh it is such a touristy place, I never visit touristy places.”
Mr. Livingstone made me apologetic about my trips to Simla (replace it with Taj Mahal, Jaipur, Kerala, Pondicherry, whatever you think is touristy).
But I muster some courage and ask so what kind of a traveler my interrogator is. “Oh me, I am a traveler; I explore and soak in the place just like locals, and last I was at Everest base camp. But you know what people have destroyed the beauty with mounds of litter all over the route.“
I wanted to say that those hundreds of plastic bottles must have been littered by tourists like me who travel with the kids to Simla and some typhoon took them to higher Himalayas. But I could not say a word, as I was feeling guilty for being a tourist by now.
A few days back in a travelers’ meet, I was again asked this question, but before I could say a word a monologue followed.
“You know I am a Solo traveler; I travel to the remotest parts of the world with only me and my backpack and my trusted camera that has 25 mp, 70-200 lens, image stabilization full HD video. I also carry a Gopro to capture videos, but my favorite is my cell phone that I use for twitter to connect with my 2932 followers. Actually I had 3000 + but then this gang of friends decided to unfollow me, as I did not RT some of the junk they were posting, so they decided to unfollow me. Losers!”
Before I could peel off the haloed solo traveler, I was gheraoed by the Solo Woman Traveler with her triple halos. With a spunk in her gait, she sashayed and looked at me as if I am “Dhartee ka bojh.”
“You know I recently backpacked all alone in Europe, just after I quit my corporate job, and then to Indonesian Islands. All ALONE CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? I, A CITY GIRL, ALL ALONE IN THE REMOTE Islands of Indonesia!!! Full of tribals, people who eat snakes and collect skull Trophies!! I traveled there as a SOLO WOMAN TRAVELER!!! Trust me Mr. desi nothing beats a Woman Solo Traveler.”
Though she looked nothing like a snake, so I was not sure why she was worried about folks with a dietary preference for snakes. But I was suitably impressed and was sure a Padma Bhushan was on her way from Bharat Sarkar.
My touristy existence was also disturbed by the vroom vroom of a biker. “Ah The desi Traveler is here, I heard you were in Kerala on a bus? Do you know how environment unfriendly diesel is, and to travel with 25 strangers, man I can never do that. I will die of suffocation in a bus with all those strangers.” As I was thinking of a counter move, the monologue on the bike continued.
“Man, I only ride my bike, a super-charged 500 cc bike, and I have crushed boulders in Ladakh under her wheels.”
My desi brain was working overtime to comprehend how a single guy on bike is chuddy buddy while a bus full of people is enemy of environment.
But with all these different types of travelers Solo, Woman, Backpacker, Biker, Explorer etc. looking down on me the poor desi Traveler, I was thinking there must be something I can do to make my travels look better.
Then an eco-friendly LED bulb switched on in my desi brain, and I realized I am MBBS MD traveler. No I have never been to medical school, but that does not stop thousands of quacks in this country from claiming to be doctors.
So, it is very simple since we, husband and wife, travel with our daughters, I will call myself MBBS MD Traveler or Miya Biwi, Bacche Samet, Mr. desi Traveler. I know it is a very old joke, but it has given a new lease of life to my travels.
Thanks for reading. I need to book a MBBSMDtraveler.com before somebody else does.
Disclaimer: The article does not intend to make fun of my traveler friends but is only a humble appeal to say that as travelers let us look beyond labels and travel for the love of it. Because true travel makes you shun labels and not gather them.