Backpacks, life and John Denver.

Our hearts, more often than not, wander in dreams of stars in a different sky. It’s a sweet yearning for discovery. To explore this feeling, we interviewed Ms. Dipti Nath, in what turned out to be a highly entertaining afternoon. 

photo 1 So ma’am we heard that you love travelling and-

I never have enough money though. (frowns)

(laughs) so is there a book, a character that invokes in you an urge to leave for a trip, a holiday?

I have to say that from the top of my head I can’t think of a character or a film. But as a child, I was an avid consumer of national geographic. Even now I love watching channels like national geographic, discovery and so on and so forth, if that answers your question. In fiction (pauses and thinks) I really can’t think of anything from the top of my head.(shrugs)

Travelling often leads to some interesting discoveries. It could be in the form of meeting new people or coming across the various ways of the world. So is there anything in particular that you have discovered over the years?

Yes, that I am not European (laughs).
The first time I travelled to Europe, particularly England, was a real eye opener. I was really young, and because I had grown up on a steady diet of literature in English, my imaginative world was created out of English, so I kind of just assumed that I was..just like them. Until I went there and saw myself for the first time, through their gaze. It was rather unsettling. But in the long run that helped.

So moving forward in that vein, has there been anything unexpected or rather funny in the discoveries that you’ve made?

Funny? I mean, everything I suppose. Anything that is culture specific, and is unfamiliar with, one does find it rather amusing. Some of the things I’ve seen I cannot tell you unfortunately. (grins).
But yeah, you know. One wants one’s travel experiences in any case to be interesting and exciting in a good way and not necessarily a bad way. It is always interesting to see other people to realise that there is a larger world out there, really different from the world that you imagine there is.
But I can’t really think of a single episode.

Are you a planner by nature or is spontaneity the name of the game?

I’m not spontaneous. I’m a worrier and a planner.

So has there ever been a time when things didn’t go according to plan, when something completely unexpected happened?

Yeah, I lost my daughter once. That was quite unexpected..and not very fun.

When was this?

Actually it was on the way back here. We had been travelling  and had just reached home. We were in a cab and she was very little and she was sleeping and we didn’t notice. So the other one, my elder daughter, is a little evil. She climbed over her and came out of the cab. We were parked outside the house and we all trooped into the house with excitement because of the dogs who we hadn’t seen for a couple of months. I didn’t realise that the little thing, she was so little, was sleeping and we had left her in the car. It was after ten minutes that we realised that one child was missing.  I think that was the only time I had come close to fainting. While we were still opening the gate and planning to rush out with no plan whatsoever, the cab driver came rushing back and he looked more frightened than we did.

(laughter continues) Ma’am what would your dream destination be? Has the dream been fulfilled?

I have many dream destinations. I don’t have a single dream destination. I have to do more of Europe. I have to do South America and I definitely don’t want to do America. Yeah, I’d like to go to Japan. There are many places that I’d like to go to, but they don’t pay me enough (says pointedly and then grins.)

Is there a cliché that you feel most travel books or films get wrong?

The whole idea of social media where people carry themselves where they go, unfortunately and the cliché about the journey being more important than the destination, etc. I mean yeah, it all works. Clichés are based on real life and experiences. If travel could be less demanding. Physically demanding, monetarily demanding, in terms of security for women, it could be so much easier. I mean I would love to go backpacking. But even at my age, I would feel daunted. So unfortunately the clichés don’t talk about what it’s like for women travellers. It’s very difficult, unless they have money and people to travel with.

Is there a song that you love to hear while travelling, you know , like a journey song?

There are bad songs that stick in my head. I mean, it could be really bad. When you asked me that question, I was thinking of ‘All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go, I’m standin’ here outside
the door’ (Leaving on a Jet plane by John Denver). So this happens.

The next sets of questions are rapid fire questions.

While travelling,

Solo trip OR with friends OR with family.
As I just told you, I’d love to go for a solo trip, but definitely not family and definitely friends, if there’s a choice between people.

Phone Camera or DSLR
I’d prefer someone else be responsible for photography and send images to me. I wouldn’t like to waste time trying to get a perfect image. I’d like other people to do my dirty work and post pictures.

Big backpack OR suitcase
That’s the dream. The backpack! But I imagine I’d end up with two large suitcases, especially on the way back.

Airplane or Train (within India)
Definitely by air! Sorry, I’m just being truthful because I just hate railway stations. I don’t mind trains, but I hate railway stations.

Pack some home food or NOT pack any.
I’m not a home food packer.

Reading or Not Reading.
Reading. Definitely.

Do you have a specific genre of reading while you travel?

No, no. Anything that I’m reading at that point of time.

When you travel do you prefer the monuments or the city lifestyle?

Both. You have to stay in a city to appreciate, to get it and I think just visiting it, sort of touching it, something like ticking it off the list is not helping anyone.

Do you like finding out the histories of the places you visit?

But of course. One of the things that relate well to a traveller is an insatiable curiosity. You’ve got to have that, otherwise you might as well sit at home. The whole point of travelling is to discover.

Since you’ve travelled a lot, has that made you jaded or do you still believe in the wonder of wanderlust?

I’m sorry but nothing that life throws at you can make you jaded. I sincerely believe that life is so beautiful, so exciting that you..How can you ever be jaded?
You’d have to be really old to be jaded.

What would you say to a person who walked up to you and told you that wanderlust is just a mental construct?

To be able to travel in the mind? I don’t think..I mean, it’s all very well to be able to travel in the mind, that’s what we do when we read books. But it’s so much easier, nicer and so much more fun to be able to physically travel. We can all sit and watch our travel shows but the actual experience of travelling cannot be duplicated.


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