*Meet the Traveller is a series on Potli Baba, of conversations with people who have been inspired by travel.*
Two years ago, I discovered a new way to travel – one that doesn’t involve depending on friends, family or acquaintances to find the time to holiday with you. This modern marvel of mankind was called Women on Wanderlust (WOW) – an organisation that put together trips exclusively for women. My first trip with WOW was to Leh/Ladakh – a week with 15 women who I had never before met in my life. It was as scary as it was exciting, but the apprehension was unnecessary – the trip was flawless in every way. I’ve travelled with them again since, and it’s been as good.
Women on Wanderlust is Sumitra Senapaty’s brainchild, started almost 10 years ago. She went on a drive across New Zealand on her own and met a bunch of women from the UK, which is when she was introduced to the concept of groups of women who’ve never met each other before travelling together. Today, WOW does at least 30 trips across India and the world every year.
I had the good fortune of connecting with Sumitra recently, and had an extremely enjoyable conversation with her. She radiates warmth and kindness, and is a joy to talk to because she has so many stories from all her travels across the globe. Here she is in conversation with Potli Baba.
Describe yourself in one word. Wanderer.
Where do you live? Sometimes in Delhi, more often in Bangalore; that is, when I am not wandering to destinations the world over.
Where have you travelled to till date? USA, UK, Turkey, Morocco, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, Spain, Croatia, Poland, Austria, Oman, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Hong Kong, Borneo, Singapore, Seychelles, Australia, New Zealand, France, South Africa, Bhutan, Namibia, Tanzania, Kenya, China, Japan, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Ladakh, Gujarat, Kerala, Rajasthan and many other parts of India.
Travel to you is: My passion, my life. I am obsessed with travel.
Five things your travel bag will always have: Shades, camera, headlamp, set of clothes and cell phone.
Wanderer or tourist? Clearly a wanderer and a traveller, not a tourist.
Mountains, beaches, deserts, jungles, nature or adventure sports? A bit of all I think; I am greedy!
Plan your own travel or get someone to do it for you? I like to plan it myself.
What’s your favourite journey to date? Your travel memory? Wandering through the Galapagos is my all-time favourite. The close encounters with the birds and animals are unbelievably touching.
If you were a city/town/country/place, which would you be and why? The continent of Africa, because of its diversity of life and awesome flora and fauna.
How has travel inspired you? Travel has inspired me to take life as it comes, with the highs and the lows, to adjust to circumstances, to make the best of the times, to appreciate and care for Earth.
Complete this sentence: If the world could fit into your palm, you would… be a gypsy.