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Footloose and fancy-free

In the 21st century, travel is no longer a personal journey – the thrill of sharing on Instagram and getting responses is very much part of the experience

“Exploration is really the essence of the human spirit.” ~ Confucius

Many will claim that to travel and explore is their dream but not all can boast of having actually followed that dream. Travellers come in different forms — those who have scaled mountains and oceans in every part of the globe, and those who discover quaint and tiny bylanes close to home. Fortunately, some of these travellers share their journeys with those of us that are desirous of packing up and taking off some day.
Patriot spoke with a few such explorers, to hear of their experiences as travellers, and how they document them on public forums.

Puja Bansal @pujabansal

She was 45 when photography called. Currently she has 1,200-plus followers on Instagram, and has been recognised by National Geographic. She has also been featured on popular travel accounts on Instagram.

When did you realise that you have a love for photography? When did you start?
Rumi said, “What you seek is seeking you.” I believe we are all sum totals of our circumstances and ‘prisoners of our own device’. I had two grown up children and my husband had passed away. I had no passion or hobby to fall back on. One day my daughter actually told me to get a life of my own. That night I booked myself on a photography trip to Iceland, packed my daughters basic DSLR, and started my own journey.

What’s your process when you click?
I am a mood photographer. Photography comes to me as a search for a deeper fulfilment. It majorly remains an effort to encapsulate the cultural vibrancy in its kaleidoscopic colours without leaving out the human pathos that forms integral part of the social fabric.
I always try and reach the location much before the golden hour (sunrise or sunset). Somehow photography is very intuitive. I always click in raw format so basic adjustments of highlights and shadow in Lightroom does the job. The trick is to compile the final shot in your head before you actually shoot with the camera.

What kind of recognition have you got from social media?
I am grateful for each new follower and like. My biggest recognition was when NatGeo editors marked one of my Taj Mahal photos as a favourite. My photographs have been featured by a lot of communities like Stories of UP, Wanderers of India and India Undiscovered.

What role does your Instagram and other social media accounts play in the attention your work gets?
Instagram is an amazing platform exposing you to a plethora of artists with whom you can collaborate and learn; your work reaches a large audience. All my achievements can be attributed to Instagram alone.

How long have you been doing travel photography? And what about it appeals to you?
It’s actually just been a year since I have started travelling. Travel is liberating, even meditative. All worries, sadness and regrets are forgotten. Now I realise how much I have missed.

What kind of photography do you enjoy the most?
Photography attains a life of its own when intertwined with my passion for travel. It’s the exploration of the exotic with a slight leaning towards traditional that serves as the propelling force to bring out the distinct flavours. I try to capture subjects amongst Nature, religious fervour and invigorating solitude.

Where do you see yourself in the world of travel blogging a few years from now?
I hope to inspire people, especially ladies stuck in their mundane lives, to begin travelling by my experiences. I grow and evolve each day and hope that fire stays kindled in me even after 10 years. If my blogging opens up the mind of even a single person, I would consider myself lucky.

Shubham Kumar and Pooja Upadhyay @thetrustytastebuds

Shubham and Pooja run a vastly popular Instagram handle called The Trusty Tastebuds.
Just a few followers short of hitting a whopping 9,000, they document all the different kinds of foods available on the streets of Delhi.

How did the The Trusty Tastebuds come to be?
Both of us love travelling and photography and being from Delhi means we are huge foodies. So we thought of doing something that would combine the fun of both! We were also so intrigued by the food blogs we saw, the possibilities of visiting new places. Eventually we decided to start our own blog and that’s how ‘Thetrustytastebuds’ came into picture. And after uploading a few pictures, the response we got was the push we needed to just keep going and never look back.

How long have you been working on thetrustytastebuds Instagram handle?
We have been working on Instagram handle for 11 months now. We started our food blogging journey on December 30, 2017.

You do promotions and you have a Facebook audience as well. How easy is it to attract revenue for a foodblogger page in Delhi?
To be very honest we haven’t done any paid promotions yet. We have done a few reviews, but we do see plenty of opportunities for people who want to earn through this.

What brought about the idea of making a foodporn page specific to Delhi?
We have already talked about Delhities being the biggest foodies you can ever find, and as we’ve also mentioned we were both born and brought up in Delhi so it was only right for us to start our journey here. And Delhi is the place where you can find the cuisines of each and every state and even different countries. You can find amazing food in every corner of Delhi.

How easy or difficult is it to manage your page along with your personal lives?
We both are pursuing MBA from different colleges, and have a really hectic schedule. We still try to make at least one post per day on our page. We constantly take feedback from our followers on how much are they liking our content , or which food or places do they want us to cover next. On an average it takes about 2-3 hrs per day to manage the page including editing, posting, etc.

Can you recall any particular incident that stands out in your foodblogging career?
It would have to be our first invite to review an outlet. We were invited to a meet-and-greet for the opening of a waffle shop in Karkardooma and we vividly remember meeting some of the well-known bloggers in this line. We saw how passionate these people are about their blogs, which pushed us to work on our page to make it even better. It really was a very big deal for us that someone liked our work so much that they invited us to review their outlet.

Where do you see thetrustytastebuds a few years from now?
We haven’t thought about it much but yes we do want that our page keeps growing day by day and becomes one of the well-known blogs, at least in the India. And some day, we don’t if that will be in five years or 10, we want to open our own Cafe serving one of the delicious cuisines of our country, be it the street food or gourmet.

Neeti and Raman @packedforever

Six years into their marriage, this Delhi couple have quit their jobs and taken to travelling the world together. With over 30,000 followers and counting, they have even started a YouTube channel to allow their followers to accompany them in their journeys. Raman tells Patriot about how they plan and manage their travels.

When did the two of you decide to start travelling?
We used to travel a lot even while we were working. But the conscious decision to dedicate our lives to travelling happened last year. We both worked in Fortune 500 companies for nearly 10 years. We used to actively save up for travelling, and never really monetised our content. It wasn’t until three months ago that I actually bought camera equipment and began to start figuring that part out.

What pushed you to leave your jobs for good?
We were both very aware of each other’s love for travel. While we were working, we could never travel in peace. You get busy with life, and only end up remembering the weekends. We decided we did not want to live like that.

How do you fund your travels?
Before we quit our jobs, we had been saving up for two-and-a-half years. I do freelance as a digital consultant. So there is some income. But we will start monetising our content so we can start earning from this avenue as well.

Your posts suggest that your trips are very impulsive! How does that work out?
We feel too much planning makes one lose interest in the trip itself. We were planning a big trip to Italy for a long time, but unfortunately, at the last moment my visa did not get cleared. So we couldn’t go. The next morning, I woke up to find Neeti packed and ready to go to Darjeeling. And that’s when we took our Darjeeling-Sikkim-Gangtok trip. It was one of the best trips we’ve ever taken and with barely any planning.

What are your favourite places to visit together?
Some weekends we drive off to Hrishikesh. We love going back there. We take along our golden retriever Laila, the love of our lives. Almost every November, when Neeti’s birthday comes around, we celebrate in Goa. She does it there. Laila travels with us there too.