Tanushree Podder belongs to a defense family, with a father who got a new posting every new year, and ditto for a husband in uniform. It is no wonder then, that she is engulfed in a constant wanderlust. The sixty-something author, who used to be a travel writer and has written bestselling books such as Nurjahan’s Daughter, Boots Belts Berets, On the Double, Escape from Harem, A Closetful of Skeletons, and Before you Breathe, however feels that her love for travel is genetic. “My father had these itching feet and we called him a rolling stone because apart from his postings he did have this itch to travel, and so much so that even into his late eighties he kept travelling. I think I have inherited that from him, and so I begin to feel restless after a couple of months for a getaway.” Always striving to balance various aspects of her life like work, family, yoga and catching up with friends, Tanushree leads a hectic day to day life. So even though she may not be able to take frequent vacations abroad, she manages to find a destination closer home, just to unwind and relax.
She speaks with SheThePeople.TV on her fondest travel memories, how you can make travelling fun in your sixties and why women need to travel more.
What does travel mean to you?
I find travel to be very exhilarating because it gives me a feeling of freedom. For that particular duration, you are so caught in the things that you see, that you can actually forget everything that needs your attention back home. It also opens your mind and broadens your vision. You are exposed to so many things which make you realise how huge and diverse the world is. The magnitude of it all humbles you, it is like an eye-opener. So each time I travel there is so much to absorb: the culture, the cuisine, the people, the languages, that it leaves me boggled. Even after I come back, I cannot stop thinking about it. When used to write travel stories, it used to be a humongous task, as I would absorb so much from each journey.
I find travel to be very exhilarating because it gives me a feeling of freedom. For that particular duration, you are so caught in the things that you see, that you can actually forget everything that needs your attention back home.
What has been your most memorable travel experience?
On the best trips I took was with my sister to Greece. We really had a gala time. The reason perhaps was that we grew up together and we are very close. And when you are that close to a person you sort of see a thing from the same perspective. We were staying at a modest hotel in Athens and we got a rooftop to ourselves, which faced the Parthenon that was lit up at night. There was this swing on which we used to sit, have a glass of wine in our hands after dinner and stare at the Parthenon to our heart’s content and chat about every damn thing possible. It was such a magical setting, combined with our conversations. That trip till date, despite so many more that I have done, remains the most significant one.
After Athens we went to Rhodes, because I am a big Agatha Christie fan and love her book Triangle at Rhodes. It is a castle town and we use to do nothing but walk everyday, take the hop on-hop off bus which would drive us around the entire town, and eat local food.
Any experience that changed your perspective, towards life or people or culture?
Personally, I feel travel doesn’t change your life in a significant way instantly, as you see in movies. What happens is when you visit places for a short duration, you only see them superficially. To know any place, its culture and people you actually have to spend quite a long time.
A lot of women are choosing to travel solo these days. What are your thoughts on that?
Solo travel is a great thing. It gives you a lot of leeway as you don’t have to depend on anyone’s choices etc. You are your own master and you do what you want. At the same time it is important to keep the safety factor in mind while travelling solo.
Give us your top three travel hacks
- Guard your passport with your life.
- Don’t opt for the cheapest place to stay, and prioritise safety instead.
- Find a similar thinking crowd if travelling solo.
Gives us your top picks among the places you have been to?
Skiathos Island in Greece – It has excellent beaches and nightlife. With 60 beaches and extensive pine cover, an old harbour and umpteen cafes on Papadiamanti Street, it’s a beautiful island.
Giethoorn in the Netherlands – It is a small village with umpteen canals and boats are the preferred mode of transportation. Cars are not allowed into the village. Each house has its own wooden bridge over the canal.
Zadar in Croatia – A tiny town on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, is the only place in the world where the sea plays on the Sea Organ. According to Alfred Hitchcock, it has the most beautiful sunset in the world.
When you visit places for a short duration, you only see them superficially. To know any place, its culture and people you actually have to spend quite a long time.
What’s next on your travel agenda?
I am going to Tuscany in Italy and Salzburg in Austria soon with my husband.
What would you like to tell women who put off travelling due to age or gender factor?
Yes, I understand women are scared to travel because of the safety factor and there are countries where you have to be cautious, but other than that I really don’t think gender matters now while travelling. When it comes to the age factor, well, I am in my sixties and still travelling. The only thing is that you may have medical problems. Understand your body’s limitations and plan your travel keeping them in mind. One need not go for a hiking tour or mountain climbing in that age, if you can’t do it. If you can’t sit through a long-duration flight, then look for something close by. The fact remains that there are so many destinations in the world that everyone has options.