We have all at some point dreamt of travelling the world in a little caravan as we engage in sightseeing, cozying up around a bonfire. Films show it, stories talk about it and bucket lists give it a place with aesthetic pictures. However, in our minds the possibility of a carefree life that of caravanning and travelling simply stays as an impossible wish, a dream-like fantasy, something from a distant universe.
But what if you get to know there are people who are living the exact fantasy and that it is their everyday reality?
Shocking right? Two free-minded girls Ankita Kumar and Sharanya Iyer from Bangalore and Mumbai respectively decided to make this their reality by bringing every fragment of our fantasy into physical existence and leaving us all with mixed feelings of marvel and envy.
They decided to combine their love for travelling with content-creation and birthed ‘Caravan Chronicles’ a web series revolving around their journey, and taking the viewers to the lesser known corners of the world.
However, as easy as it may sound, the story has far more ups and down. To get an insight into their reel-like life, we spoke to Ankita, here are excerpts from the interview.
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Caravan culture is pretty new to India. What was your inspiration for this idea?
We did ‘Caravan Chronicles’ last year with our biker friend Rohith Subramaniyam, who came up with the whole concept since he was in Europe and he saw a lot of van life going on there. I was in South America and he was travelling in Europe, so he called me up and was like “do you wanna do this when we come back to India?” I was like yeah sure and that was how the idea started.
And then we came back in December 2017, conceptualised the whole thing and last year we did the first travel, from Kerala to Himachal Pradesh for 100 days.
This was for the first season. For the second season, we (Ankita and Sharanya) basically wanted to concentrate on one state, just properly show one place.
This is a huge idea to bring into execution; did you have any apprehensions before you started?
Not really. I think everyone was very supportive. Moreover, I grew up reading Enid Blyton, and there was one book, The Five go out in a Caravan, so for me it was almost like reliving my childhood. The biggest hurdle I think was that no one had ever done this in India before. We had no one to ask if we got stuck somewhere and had to figure out everything by ourselves. From how do we do the caravan to what happens if it breaks down? We had to do everything by ourselves. The first vehicle was an old one. It was a 20 year old Matador.
Getting into the details, what did the preparations look like before you started?
So much needed to be done, first of all we had to find a caravan, and then paint her. We went around three rounds of repainting because the first time we didn’t realise that when we paint it later it will be a darker blue, two shades darker than we actually wanted. We realised we had to change it so we painted it minty blue that you see now. But then we had to sticker her and transfer her all the way to Siliguri from Bangalore, so we sticker her in white vinyl, and when the sticker came out, so did the blue so we had to paint it again. But then we got an artist, a hand painter friend in Gangtok to paint her.
So you travelled to the north-eastern part of India? What were the difficulties faced there as it is a very difficult terrain?
I think the most difficult hurdle was that it is a very army-sensitive area. There is a lot of army presence and we had to do rounds of police stations to get the permits sorted. It took us three months to get the permit and when we reached Sikkim, they didn’t have a permit. Also, there are not many good roads, some of the roads were nice, but there were not many roads.
This is an expensive venture, how did the funding come through?
We actually approached Jockey and Jockey Woman. We were like this is how much budget we need are you up for sponsoring it? They agreed because they had also done a video with me last year for MTV, it’s called jockeywomanportraits powered by MTV. So when we approached them for this season, they instantly agreed.
It is a small place with a lot of things happening. It has a beautiful landscape; there is a valley, tea gardens, rivers and lakes. So there’s a lot going on there. Culture-wise as well it is very rich. The tribes there; the Bhutias, the Lepchas, then there is a lot of Buddhist culture as well. It is a very rich part of India plus not a lot of people have covered Sikkim in this way.
Finally, what does travelling mean to you and what are your future plans?
Well I don’t really go by any plans; I just do what I feel like. Hopefully, Season 3 is over landing and not just in India. For me I am the most myself when travelling. This is the biggest reason why I travel, I feel the most comfortable doing it. I can’t be in one place really long.
She ends with a giggle.
One marvels at the ease with which she describes a life only for the brave-hearted. Despite all the travelling, there is not a hint of tiredness or exhaustion in her voice. Rather her voice echoes with enthusiasm and a joyfulness, rare these days.
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Snigdha Gupta is an with SheThePeople.TV