Why I haven’t quit my job to travel !

“Why don’t you quit your job to travel full-time?” is a question that I’m asked quite often.

When I created a separate Contact Page on this blog about 2 years back, it was for a better way to engage with my readers and those wishing to connect with me. Soon, I started getting mails from readers wanting more information about the places I had travelled to or wishing to travel with me in the future; requests for book reviews; invitations to events; PR agencies wanting my contact details for their database; people seeking permission to use my photographs and posts on other sites; people wanting advice on how to start a travel blog and monetise it…

But the most interesting mails come from a group of people who want to know my ‘life story’. In other words, the story of ‘how I quit my job to travel’. This group of people are usually in their early 20s, fresh out of college/university, have never had the experience of working in a job (but hate the idea of a job anyway), and have dreams of making it big in travel blogging / travel writing business. My reply to such mails is usually standard: “that they should read the “About” page on this blog which would tell them that I work full-time, and haven’t quit my job to travel or do anything else”.

The correspondence doesn’t stop here. The next mail usually comes with the question, “Why don’t you quit your job to travel full-time?” or a variation of this. Depending on the tone of the mail and my mood at that time, I either reply with a shorter version of this post or just don’t bother to respond. I know it’s bad practice to not reply but, frankly speaking, I’m fed up with these mails. I’m fed up of replying to people who are convinced that the best way to travel (or do anything in life for that matter) is by quitting their jobs.

I’m so fed up that I decided to write a blog post on “why I haven’t quit my job to travel”. Another reason for writing this post is because the Internet is full of articles and blog posts on how people have quit their jobs to travel or do ‘something meaningful’ (just do a simple search and you’ll know what I mean). There are hardly any articles on why one doesn’t have to or want to quit their job in order to travel or do ‘something meaningful’. In fact, I have come across only one such article so far. This post is a teeny-weeny attempt to correct that imbalance of perception.

There are many reasons, big and small, as to why I haven’t quit my job to travel; I’ll only share the three main ones here.

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There’s a Tablet in the house – Part 2

“How could you be so careless?” Amma glares at me.

“Well… you know, I just forgot.” I try to look nonchalant and cool; needless to say, I fail miserably.

“Forgot? How can you forget your mobile in the office? You have it attached to you like an appendage at other times !”

“I do not !” I protest.

“Amma, don’t exaggerate,” pipes in my brother, who’s visiting from Pune and is busy surfing on my Dell Venue Tablet. “This is not the first time your daughter has forgotten her mobile in office. You should know by now that she does it quite regularly.”

I glare at my brother and he grins back cheerfully. Really ! Is this the time to bring up this habit of mine?

“Yes. But is this the time to forget? What are we supposed to do now? How will we know what time Dr. Shashank’s coming? Or even if he’s coming today.” Amma is, to put it politely, in a flap.

“Of course, he’s coming, Amma. Dr. Shashank did say the last time he was here that he would be here today at 8.00 am,” I say soothingly

“He also said that he will confirm with you,” Amma snaps at me. “And in case you haven’t realised, it is 8.30 am and he isn’t here yet. He must have sent a text message to you about today’s session.”

I wisely keep quiet.

In case you’re wondering who Dr. Shashank is, and why my mother is in such a dither over him at 8.00 8.30 am that morning, read on.

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There’s a Tablet in the house – Part 1

“Can you play the tanpura before you go?”, Amma (my mother) asks. I have just settled her in bed for the night and have switched on the night-light when she makes this request.

“Of course,” I say, reaching for the Tablet kept on the nightstand. I switch on the Tanpura App and within seconds a soft, sonorous drone fills the room. Amma smiles with pleasure and within minutes she’s fast asleep. I wait for a little while before leaving the room, reducing the volume a bit.

“Paati’s (Tamil word for grandmother) asleep?” asks AA, my niece, as I pass her on the way to the kitchen.

“Yes. Let the tanpura play for another 10 minutes or so and then you can use the Tablet if you want to,” I tell her.

“Okayyyyyy, ” AA drawls out her thanks.

“And after you finish, AA, I’d like to use it for a while. I want to catch up with the news,” calls out her mother and my sister-in-law, SV.

“Okayyyyyy. I won’t take more than 10 minutes; just want to check my FB and mail,” AA replies.

When I look in to say goodnight to SV and AA about half-an-hour later, I find that they are sharing earphones and watching something on the Tablet intently. I smile and head for bed thinking how quickly a device that everyone in my family had not shown any interest in, had suddenly become the most convenient and coveted thing in the household.

That device was a 8″ x 5″, book-sized, Dell Venue Tablet sent to me last month as part of the Dell blogger review programme.

Dell Venue Tablet, Product Review

The Dell Venue Tablet

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Knowledge Whiteboard Library

Ever so often I come across an initiative, an organisation, a person or a group of people, a book, a film, an article, a piece of music… that leaves me feeling enthused. Since it also leaves me wondering why I haven’t heard of it before, I set off on an eager and happy quest to find out more about it. When such an initiative is that of a friend, it leaves me a little shocked. Pleasantly and happily shocked, I must hasten to clarify, as it happened when I heard of the Knowledge Whiteboard Library. Let me elaborate.

It all began with a telephone conversation a couple of months back with Rajshri Mahtani, founder of Knowledge Whiteboard (KW), and also a friend and a former colleague. Somewhere during our conversation Rajshri casually mentioned something about a library at the KW and the growing collection of books. I was intrigued and was left thinking… library? What library? How come I don’t know anything about it?

I decided to visit the KW office, which is located Santacruz in Mumbai and find out more about the library for myself. Sometime last month that is just what I did and sure enough, there was an interesting story waiting for me. :)

Knowledge Whiteboard Library

Dr. Rajshri Mahtani

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The social movements calendar 2014

You might wonder why I’m writing about a calendar when we are almost half way through the year. The thing is, I forgot to write about it when I received the calendar in January. And the reason I forgot is because I’ve always considered the Social Movements Calendar (SMC) to be more of a resource, and less of a calendar, in the sense that it is not time-bound for me. Besides, I never give away the SMC even after its “validity” is over. As to why I do so, well… read on :)

Originally conceptualised by the late Smitu Kothari, the 2014 SMC Calendar is its fifth edition and returns after a gap in 2013. The good people from Intercultural Resources India, who bring out the SMC, have this to say about it:

The Social Movements Calendar 2014 is a collective process and a non-profit endeavor meant as a tool to educate and create public awareness about the vast array of people’s struggles in India.

Like previous editions, this one too is an effort to document peoples’ struggles and protests. While the previous two editions were theme-based —  “peoples’ struggles against international financial institutions (IFIs)” in 2011, and “saga of labour struggles from colonisation to globalisation” in 2012 —  the 2014 calendar does not state any particular theme on the first page of the calendar.

Social Movements Calendar 2014, Intercultural resources, People's struggles, social issues, calendar

Protest against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant

But when one goes through the calendar it is to discover that the most recent protests in India have been included in the calendar. Continue reading

An open letter to KGAF heritage walk organisers

Dear Kala Ghoda Arts Festival’s Heritage Walks organisers,

Greetings from a participant in your 2014 Heritage Walks :)

I almost ignored the Heritage Walks section of the 2014 edition of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival (KGAF). Not because I suspected the quality of the programmes (they are always good!), but because my previous experience with your Heritage Walks was not very nice.

It was in 2010 (or maybe 2011), when I participated in two walks — (i) Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CST) and (ii) Ballard Estate. The CST walk called for registrations via email for 30 available seats; and I was lucky to get one of them. When I arrived at the meeting point outside CST on the day of the walk and at the appointed time, I found a large crowd gathered there. Most of them had not registered and were determined to be on the walk one way or the other. And they succeeded as your people were just not able to turn them away. This meant that we ended up as a pretty large group and I barely got to hear what the guide spoke.

The Ballard Estate walk turned out to be even more chaotic. This walk had no pre- registrations and interested participants just had to turn up at the World War I memorial in Ballard Estate at the appointed day and time. About 150–200 people turned up that day for the walk. I left 5 minutes into the walk when I found that I could neither see the tour guide nor hear a word of what she spoke.

Thereafter, I restricted my KGAF participation only to the events on Rampart Row every year. Till I came across these words on your website with regard to the 2014 Heritage Walks.

Participants are welcome on FIRST COME – FIRST SERVE [sic] basis… (Maximum people – 50 on first come first serve [sic] basis)…
Note: Only 1 token would be handed over to one person. No email registrations would be accepted.

The “First come – First serve” [sic] and the “Maximum people – 50″ clinched it for me. After choosing which ones to go for, applying for time off from work, and reaching well in time to stand up in the queue for the registration tokens, I managed to participate in 5 Heritage Walks and Tours at the KGAF 2014.

Every heritage walk revealed yet another interesting aspect about this beautiful city of ours. Unfortunately, every heritage walk also revealed how much things had not changed with regard to organising and conducting them. The words on your website just remained mere words and didn’t translate into action.

Let me elaborate with details from each walk:

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