CEO, Managing Director or a big business tycoon, you can see the world and make all the time as long as travel is your priority. Some people live to work while some people work to live, shuffling a few words here and there can change the whole concept.
Our eminent guest, Meera Narayanan at Trip Talkies enlightens us with the various aspects of life and travel that can be fine tuned if we know what we want to do and when?
What is your Travel Mantra?
One thing I have learned is that the right time to travel is not in the future but in the present. My parents shirked their travel plans because their priority was to give every possible thing to me and my sister. I lost my mother a few years back and I feel sad that she didn’t travel enough. My father doesn't have that kind of zeal and strength now. My travel mantra is to explore the world irrespective of commitments. There’s so much to see and learn that I feel it’s better to travel and explore than to regret. Do it when the time is right; when your body can endure the travel fatigue. It’s just about prioritizing, rest everything follows.
If something good happens, travel to celebrate. If something bad happens, travel to forget. If nothing happens, travel to make something happen.
: You travel extensively around the globe, what is one unique thing about India?
After all, it is the people that make a country and not the country that makes people. Something that catches the eyes in India is the diversity however, what makes it even more unique is the inclusivity that the Indians have. You can be in any part of India still feeling at home, this probably is exclusive to our country. It comes innately without having been rehearsed or taught. In India, the feeling of oneness, emotional inclusion is sui-generis, rare to see anywhere around the world.
Which is the most beautiful place that you have visited and why must people go there?
Ladakh for sure! The best thing about Ladakh is that it changes you as a person. When people compare Ladakh to Switzerland, I feel it’s so unjustified to compare the exquisiteness of Ladakh to any other place in the world. The 25% of the border that lies in India is breathtaking; a living dream. Pangong Lake is not photo shopped in any of the internet pictures. Trust me when I saw it with my own eyes, I couldn’t believe it was real. The sublime beauty, crystal water that constantly changes hues and cryptic hills of Pangong Lake is epitome of natural wonders. I urge and recommend to people who have not visited Ladakh yet, please go and see it!
No matter how sophisticated you may be, a large granite mountain cannot be denied - it speaks in silence to the very core of your being
: Which is the most romantic destination according to you?
Mussoorie. My husband being a native knows the place inside out. Every time we visit his hometown, he takes me to the virgin places which are absolutely serene and bewildering. The emotion that fascinates me the most is his enthusiasm of showing me every nook and corner of the place he grew up in, it's serendipitous. This certainly is overwhelming because it keeps both of us connected with each other's roots. I know Mussoorie is quite commercialized now but there is a lot more to the place if, you wish to travel beyond the hub.
: Which place is your favorite weekend getaway?
Goa being in the close proximity from Mumbai, it's our first preference whether we fly down or take a road trip. I am raised in Delhi and I miss the weekend getaways that North India has to offer. We go to Lonavala and Khandala pretty often. However, they are no match to the hill stations in the North. Mumbai in itself has a certain charm; it’s a city that never sleeps. During weekends, I prefer not to be away but to explore south of Mumbai. Marine Drive is my all time favorite -the place where the vibe of the city can be felt. And also, it may sound like a joke but honestly commuting between the South of Mumbai from the suburbs is more or less like going for a long drive. It takes a full day to reach there and back forth.
: What are the elements that make a perfect holiday for you?
My topmost priority is selecting amongst the winter places since I am a mountain person. I love to see white Christmas and snow and luckily, my partner also prefer the same. Also, we like exploring far off places which we probably would not be able to do 10 years from now. Both of us are intrigued by the idea of gathering as many exquisite experiences -as diverse it possibly can be, as different it possibly can serve. High altitude, far away destinations, adventures, unique experiences; we are game for all. We like to splurge and stay lavishly during our vacations hence, the planning starts way before. The cost can be rationalized if we plan everything well in advance. Also, due to my hectic corporate life, I prefer to share prerequisites with my travel agent and he customizes and manages the entire trip for me.
: Share one moment while traveling that changed your perspective in life?
I was literally carried away by the charm of Scotland. I and Sachin pondered over the futility of working so hard, if not made the most out of it. What we both make from traveling are these fond memories, for sure. My husband and I slog all through the year to get a life that we are living today. The luxuries that we are enjoying never came easy. Both of us take a break for 15 days every year to expand our horizons, something that we live for. In Scotland we took our moment and stepped back. We were enlightened by the mesmerizing beauty and wished to be nested in solace, away from the hustle and bustle. Life is certainly not about making money but to celebrate success.
We need to slow down, take travel breaks and rejoice in what we have been blessed with.
: Do you plan your own Itinerary or do you give it to the travel agency?
I don’t like backpack, some people like to own their itinerary and plan end to end but I am lazy that way. I tell my travel agent about the experience that I am looking forward to and they work around and customize my holidays according to my personal preferences. I don’t like to take any responsibility while traveling because I keep so busy all through the year that I prefer everything to be well planned and managed. I choose a fret-free holiday over travel disasters and for that I don't mind shelling out some extra money.
: Describe India in one word
Roots. Its home to me and home is where your heart is.
: An event or festival that is close to your heart
Diwali. It brings joy and positivity with the lights and fire crackers.
: Traveling with your partner or solo
Never solo. I always want Sachin by my side when I am travelling.
: Traveling for you is
Celebrating us. Celebrating what we have today. We must take a pause and celebrate.
: Travel Essentials
Local currency, adequate clothes, I carry my husband with me and my sunglasses.
: Two languages that you want to learn to make your traveling easier
German and French. We have Europe in our bucket list.
: A cuisine that you crave for
Dal Makhani. I am very desi by heart. I drool for North Indian Food.
: Music, Bird watching, Stargazing or reading a book
Music. Music like travel is something that feeds the soul.
: If the weather is bad, how would you spend your holiday?
Oh! I would love to sit and chill out by the window which my husband resents, albeit. He is an outdoor person; he enjoys long strolls while I prefer to recline and slow down. If someone tells me you are locked up in your hotel room for three days, I would be more than delighted because my job is so demanding that I am always speaking, I am always on the calls, traveling frequently, meeting people. I need my space where I am not talking to anybody, not doing anything at all. Being silent and quiet in scenic splendor connects me back to myself.
: If you are allowed to carry only one gadget whilst traveling, what would you pick?
I am not a gadget person. However, the only thing I never forget to carry is my iphone because it’s a complete gadget by itself. Be it for the camera or various apps that need to be handy whilst traveling, iphone amply suffices. Though, I personally feel that when we travel we should be gadget-free so that we can enjoy the bliss. Why are we going on a holiday otherwise?
:You are asked to give up on one thing to travel, what would you give up on?
Holidays and Travels are my priorities. Being a woman I can gladly give away all my jewelry only to travel. I feel that you can accumulate gold and diamonds even when you retire but traveling demands you to be physically able. When you have the inertia and enthusiasm to trot the globe, you must do it in then and there. Sooner the better!
:You have to carry one souvenir from every trip, what would you like to carry from each place you travel?
This is very me. Apart from carrying memories and experiences, I love collecting fridge magnets from every place I happen to travel. I make sure to stick it with the date and timeline on my fridge. I passionately collect them, that’s a ritual for me and the best part about following this trend is that every day it reminds me of my travel checklist. It works as a motivation to maintain my travel goals.
:If you are granted 15 days of leave to take a road trip, where would you go?
I have done that already to Ladakh and Scandinavia. However, going back to Ladakh by the road would be absolutely a treat for the soul. It has some less travelled and toughest roads on earth and enduring all the adventure once again would be worth it. The uphill drive, scenic vistas, adventure, thrill, fun, these experiences will leave you enthralled for a lifetime.
Director, SPS Operations – India at Amazon, Meera Narayanan is a very sorted and humble personality. She has made this big in the corporate world with her sagacity and perseverance. Not only a tenacious professional, she is also a fervent traveler who knows how to maintain work life balance. She believes in celebrating every moment of life with her partner Sachin Arora, who stands by her in thick and thin.
The most beautiful thing in the world is, of course, the world itself.
Trip Talkies is our exquisite feature where you find travel stories of the people who are streaks ahead professionally and also have substance. Watch this space at Adotrip to know more authentic travel stories that comes from the horse’s mouth!