Chaiti Narula is Deputy Editor with India Today. With over a decade of experience in journalism, Chaiti began her career with business journalism. With a passion for marrying economics with politics, she brings versatility to her shows as a presenter. She feels for humanitarian issues and actively works for the United Nations sustainable development goals in her free time.
SheThePeople.TV speaks to her about being a female traveller, her travel escapades, her trip to Lambok and Bali and how it added richness to her life and more.
Excerpts from the interview:
What does travelling mean to you?
Travelling for me is learning what books can't teach, universities don't preach. Food for the soul and just one of the most amazing gifts I like to give myself with my hard earned money. Travel makes me a better human being and challenges me, builds character and tests patience. It opens up horizons of life.
When I got into Bali, I did what made me happy more than anything else in the world. Jumped into waterfalls from a height and floated in the water collected in the waterfall pond
Tell us about one of your most adventurous trips?
While I have travelled the world and all of my travels have challenged me one way or the other, I'd like to speak about my recent experience in Lambok. Given it's a different world out there and a developing place, language barriers and what have you, it opened up my eyes to raw nature and a place got me after a long time. The adventure was unparalleled. I was alone, I dived into the ocean in the middle of nowhere with random tourists from Australia, lost myself on the Gili islands, touched sea creatures and even fed the fish in their own habitat. Not just that, I made friends with the locals. They made me explore the place like one of them. Learnt how to cook their cuisine. Walked, rode on horses on the beach, made locals take my pics, swam for eight hours a day in the ocean, snorkelled and learnt how to protect coral reefs.
Then when I got into Bali, I did what made me happy more than anything else in the world. Jumped into waterfalls from a height and floated in the water collected in the waterfall pond. I did not for a second miss having anyone around because I made friends with nature. It was a trip for the soul.
Being a woman, did you come across various stereotypes pertaining to women travellers and how did you deal with them?
Every second person wanted to know where my husband was, or if I had a boyfriend. Every local worried about me being single and why I would not travel with a companion. The hotel staff, the boat staff, the diving crew, well-travelled people from western nations...you get asked why are you single? And why are you alone? I just smiled and said I'm here to unwind. I'm single. And will come back with someone when I have found that certain someone. What I got was a smile back perhaps signalling hesitation to agree with me... mixed with how they would have the option perhaps to be an unbound soul and that was that. I didn't care then and don't care now as I travel by myself and for myself.
What is your message for the aspiring women travellers and also those who hesitate to be alone?
Take the plunge. You can be a true companion to someone else only when you are your best companion. If you enjoy your own company more than anyone else's, you are ready to be in a healthy relationship. If you always need someone, then introspect and understand how unhealthy that is. Go get lost if you have to, trust me Google maps won't allow you to get lost even if you want to. Splurge on yourself, enjoy moments of introspection. It will give you tremendous amount of satisfaction and confidence. You will be a changed person. A better version of your existing self.
Travel makes me a better human being and challenges me, builds character and tests patience. Opens up horizons of life
One recent travel trend that you have observed
Instagram!!! Makes you nauseous beyond a point if you are into social conformity. But if you use it right just to document your memories, it can be a beautiful diary when you want to walk down memory lane. Another trend I see is a selfie obsession and looking at every place through the lens of a cam shooting a video. Leave that cam. You enjoy where you are. Give it to someone to take your picture. If you are so into getting the right pics, photographers can be hired to follow you around (not necessary at all but whatever floats your boat). And lastly, people are now increasingly taking some fun 'air bnb experiences' packages that have very interesting bunch of like-minded people on these very unique non-touristy and non-institutional tours. Try them out for rare experiences.