Susmita Mukherjee - Alpaviram
Susmita Mukherjee always wanted to be a writer. She says “If anything has seen me through the 12 years of journalism I have behind me today, it my passion to communicate using the written word. I have spent the past 15 years of my life in Delhi – a city I absolutely adore. I enjoy reading, conversations, coffee and travelling without a plan.
We caught up with Susmita to find out little bit more about her travel journey.
Can you tell us when and how did the travel bug bite you?
It was during the global economic recession of 2009. I lost my job at a national television news channel but I got a large compensation which I promptly put to use in getting away from the city. It was during that journey that I realized that I could make a living out of writing about travel.
And how do you fund your travel ?(savings/work whilst traveling/other)
I have a full-time job, a career path that I had already set upon before the travel bug bit me. My full-time job keeps me rooted to a place I call home (Delhi) and funds all my travels.
How long have you been documenting your travel stories ?
I have been documenting my travel stories through articles for news papers and magazines, blogs and now a website. Please do visit Alpaviram. It is my effort to launch India’s first responsible travel platform.
Can you share with us, that one travel memory that you cherish till date ?
The one that immediately comes to mind is the first time I saw the sea.
My father, who passed on the travel bug to me, had taken us on a family trip to Chandipur beach in Odisha. The sea recedes by nearly two kilometers during low tide and my father walked with me for quite a distance in the ankle-deep sea water. I saw many sea urchins and live seashell animals in the waters. The feel of the sand under my feet and the wonder I was filled with remains a cherished memory for life.
Have you been to any place, which turned out to be totally different to how you had imagined? If so, how?
It was my first visit to rural Andhra Pradesh. I had thought that it would be a superficial experience as language would pose a serious barrier. However, when I arrived at the closed gates of a legendary temple and found an elderly local lady who would be waiting there with me for the next hour until the gates reopened, I was surprised at how well she and I communicated. We looked a little deeper into each other’s eyes and could understand each other rather well, despite the fact that she spoke in Telugu (which I do not understand or speak) and I responded in English (which she did not understand or speak)!
Your preferred travel companions?
A pair of good headphones, a few books from my collection and whenever possible, silence.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is the first item?
Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights are the first and last in my bucket list. There’s no other place I rather be and no other place I’d head out to from there.
Your views & experiences (if any) on safety while travelling on your own.
I was brought up in a relatively conservative Hindu family and have always understood the value of not attracting unnecessary attention to myself. Instead of being a highlight of a new destination, I prefer becoming a part of the scene/crowd. This works for me and I do not endorse it on anyone. I was difficult at first but I always ask for help if I am in trouble. Shout if I am scared and run away, as fast as I can, if I feel unsafe.
We all know that travel teaches us a great deal of things about life. Can you share with us what has travel taught you ?
That I need to travel a lot more…
Is there anything you do on your travels or in your every day life to try to minimize your impact on the environment?
I strive to do everything in a way to not impact the environment. If I take a flight, I ensure that I return and plant indigenous trees to help cut down my impact on the place. I choose homestays and contribute the local economy instead of international hotel chains that waste a lot of electricity and water among other resources.
I do not buy bottled water and yet, have never gone thirsty in my travels. I find ways of either supporting or participating in volunteer-based activities like cleanliness drives or teaching programmes – depending on the tenure of my stay.
I do not litter and always carry an extra bag to pick up any litter I find – specially in treks, forests and around lakes or rivers.
Please share with us, your message to aspiring women travelers?
Let our memories shine brighter than the diamonds we could have afforded, the friends we make along the way be the best investments and the chance to actually be out there and be a part of other people’s lives, to change the world that others know – be the best retirement plan.
We asked Susmita to give a one word substitute on few travel related questions.
- If some one asked you to give up travel and choose exactly one thing to do in life, what would you choose?
- A fictional character would you most like to meet or travel with ?
- One Dream Destination?
- Your most preferred way of travelling (Backpacking/Economy/Luxury)?
- What describes you as a travel style as a woman, the best? Nomad / Diva / Aam Aurat
- A traveler who inspires you
My ex-boss and travel mentor, Himanshu Joshi
You can follow Susmita’s travel experiences on the below platforms
‘F5 Escapes’ is a Bangalore-based, experiential travel company, with a focus on redefining the way women travel in India. The premise of F5 is an ambitious dream – to put India on the global travel map as a preferred destination for women from across the globe.
F5 Escapes offers fixed departure all-women group tours, customized itineraries for families, groups and solo travellers. We also do in-city engagements which include #JustGo travel meetups, workshops to educate women on travel safety, sustainable menstruation, motorbiking etc.