Talking travel with Udit Khurana
When it comes to travelling, every person is shaped differently. Our family, upbringing, neighbourhood and social circle play a gargantuan role into shaping us as a wayfarer. Some prefer the comfort of luxury travel and business class seats, others tend to choose hitch-hiking and backpacking hostels; some fall in love with the urban pandemonium, others prefer the quitude of mountains and assonance of glacial waters! Whichever way it is, every traveller has more than a few anomalous experiences to share and a perspective that is sui generis!
Udit Khurana stays in the blissful town of Dehradun, based in the lower foothills of the Dhauladars. Having travelled to a myriad of places since a young age, Udit presents a perfect example of what separates a traveller from a tourist!
- How did you get introduced to travelling?
- What inspires you to travel far and wide?
- You are a full time corporate professional. How do you manage to travel despite the job commitment?
- According to you, what is the most interesting aspect of travelling solo?
- What is it about your home town, Dehradun, that makes it perfect?
- Which is the most memorable trip you’ve had, and what’s on your list next?
How did you get introduced to travelling?
My parents came from a lower middle class family. They are the ones who introduced me to travelling, and that too, at a very young age! They managed to travel far and wide with much less money and time; however, they did satiate their wanderlust enough with whatever they had.
I remember my parents telling me about many of their travel lores. Once, while the two of them were travelling to Haridwar, they realized that a group was organizing a 10-day trip to Chardham for about ₹ 1,000 per person. Now, back in the 1980s, this was a substantial amount, but they were adventurous enough to jump at the opportunity! They were very optimistic about trekking and backpacking (this terminology probably didn’t even exist in traditional India families back then!). When I was a kid, my parents took me trekking and travelling – I went on hikes, long and short trips, roadtrips with them starting at a very young age, probably when I was 6-7 years old!
Gradually though as I grew up, first education and then work took over life. While I kept on travelling as and when possible, it was only after my breakup about 4 years ago that took me back to my roots! As Steve Jobs once rightly said – ‘Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick, don’t lose faith!’. I have started again ever since, and indeed, it has been surreal. My trips in the last couple years have been scintillating, I have grown a lot!
What inspires you to travel far and wide?
For me, travelling is a success metric in life. Meeting new people, seeing new places, trying out the randoms things that I otherwise wouldn’t have, is what makes travel memorable. In my case, it was very natural to travel far and wide as my parents inculcated at an early age that travelling and reading teach you more than anything! Travelling teaches you to adjust, to experience other cultures, to aclamatise with other people – local and otherwise; and most importantly, it teaches you be a part of a community!
Perhaps, the thing that travel edifies is to look at life with new perspectives – how people are happy in their life which is very different than yours. Typically, we are set in our life and our own ways – our opinions are moulded based on the experiences and teachings we’ve had. Travel helps us to break the stereotypes. It enlightens us to see the world with an open mindset!
The thing about travelling I cherish the most is the variety of conversations I have with strangers, the nomads I meet when I am travelling. Over the years, I have met writers, psychologists, journalists and what not!
Travelling exposes you to people with different careers – and they come with different pespectives and opinions on life. Learning about how others see life is stunning!Udit Khurana (@theeclecticlife)
You are a full time corporate professional. How do you manage to travel despite the job commitment?
Of course, it is difficult to travel when you are working full time. While travelling is a part of our life, at the end of the day, we can’t travel unless we work. Despite the regular 9-5 work that we do, I believe it is important to take a break sometimes and explore. For me, travel is a success metric. The magnitude of my travel defines how much I am satisfied with myself!
Travel, in turn, creates opportunities and ideas for more adventures to come. I remember how my scuba instructor in Phuket once told me about scuba diving in Bora Bora; ever since, that’s been on my list!
According to you, what is the most interesting aspect of travelling solo?
Like I said earlier, it was after my breakup that I decided to travel again. When you are left alone, emotional turmoil eats you up. That’s when solo travel helps a lot. I travelled to Shimla in 2018, a day after my birthday. There, I met several people who were travelling alone just like me! Few came with interesting backgrounds and others had compelling stories to tell! When we travel solo, we aren’t really alone, now, are we? We are always surrounded by other wanderers, we form a clique and we explore places as one. I remember how I met a lady from London, aged 65. We discussed so many things about life, travel in general; she told her own stories and we had wonderful conversations. I guess that’s another aspect of solo travel which I cherish – we talk to people about cultures, our travel experiences, life and so many things! We can share things without the fear of being judged, for everyone is a stranger (whilst befriending them in the process)!
I met another person who had come from Everest base camp, a couple other backpackers who were travelling for many weeks in a row. This changed my perspective – when we travel, we get a chance to see backgorunds different people come from, we get to experience their traditions and perspectives. Listening to the myriad of stories that these guys told was an eye-opener for me; and just like that, I was the new addict who took up solo travelling thereafter!
What is it about your home town, Dehradun, that makes it perfect?
Green is a different green in monsoons. You must stay in Dehradun to fall in love in it. It is not meant to be a weekend destination, but a way of life! Dehra has a nonchalant laidback lifestyle. There are many stunning places to explore in Dehra, George Everest being one of them. Built in 1832, the Park House is a famous tourist spot and is mesmerizing indeed. For anyone who comes to Dehra, it is a must visit! Shikhar Falls is another destination which is situated in the quitude of the jungles. If one visits the upper sides of Dehra, one can still experience the cool hill-station weather that entire Dehradun once had. Now, however, lower-altitude part of the city is getting warmer because of commercialisation and urbanisation.
Nonetheless, Dehradun still has many unexplored places – several treks, forest trails and old-school architecture makes one travel back in time.
Which is the most memorable trip you’ve had, and what’s on your list next?
I have been to sevaral places over the years – Leh-Ladakh, Rajasthan, Pondicherry, Kedarnath and several treks like Hampta pass trek in the Himalayas. Outside India, I have been to Oman, amongst a couple other countries. Next up, I wish to do the Kashmir Great Lakes trek sometime in August. And of course, Bora Bora is waiting too! Of all places, I believe Leh was one of my favorites.
All in all, I would say my travelling legacy has just begun. I wish to travel far and wide, tick off several destinations off my bucketlist – both in and outside India. I enjoy travelling with people; however, deep down, I love travelling solo! When you travel solo, you become self-reliant and independent. And that, I believe, separates a traveller from a tourist!
Once you travel to a new place by yourself, for yourself, it makes you a badass!– Udit Khurana (@theeclecticlife)
A special thanks to Udit Khurana for collaborating with us for creating this article. You can connect with Udit on Instagram at @theeclecticlife
For more such interviews, check Indian Railways – An Exploration! Talking travel with Satya Dixit.