Excerpts from an Interview with the Author
Your travel book Sorry! Out of Office on Businessis a bit odd in times of lockdowns and curfews. What was your motivation to write a travel book during Covid times?
A travel book was always on my mind as I have travelled extensively. Covid lockdown kept me indoors and provided me the right frame of mind to complete the work. I found time to go through thousands of pictures taken during each trip. In fact, I felt I was travelling again.
About the release of the book duringthe lockdown was also well-thought. People, devoid of travelling for months, are in the right frame of mind now to plan to travel again. I feel this time they will be more meticulous in the selection of places they would go to. They would like to avoid the usual jostling and the crowding. They may seek more intimate experiences than pure physical trips. They would be more sincere and responsible than before. The world has suddenly changed and surely people have too.
Has travel changed in its character?
Travel has changed in all its character. It amused me to read in an article by a seasoned travel writer that rich individuals were paying big sums of money to be hoisted atop Mount Everest by the aid of trained Nepali Sherpas. I also heard that super billionaires are paying their way to space, and a list of such tourists is almost ready.
People are now ready to spend money to be in someplace for a one-of-a-kind experience.
What does travelling really mean to you and what made you write a book on travel?
Travel is part of human culture since forever. It has however changed its nature over the last century from being a life-saving improvement to more of a leisure activity, status symbol, or simply a mode of escapism. But to me it is part of work.
For me, writing about travel was an opportunity I was waiting for. What do you do with 15 years of business travels around the world and 3 months of lockdown? I sat and wrote them up.
What made you select the places you have selected to write about?
It is the experience. In one place it was an isolated one, andin another place, it was a collective one.
Would you go into rating the places – just out of curiosity?
Certainly not, because there is no comparison between experiences. Each placewas a unique experience which remained unmatched. An experience of food in Singapore can’t be rated alongside a hike in Bhutan. An experience in a German concentration camp can’t be rated alongside a stay in Hawaii.
Any message you would like to give out to travellers?
Being responsible while travelling is my sincere message. Nature, environment, ecosystems, habitats, climate, culture are increasingly coming under stress due to human activities,including surge in mass tourism. Every trip should be meticulously planned from its necessity to its outcome.
Author’s travels around the world!
Travel has changed its character over the last century from being a life-saving improvement to more of a leisure activity, status symbol, or simply a mode of escapism.
It amused me to read in an article by a seasoned travel writer that rich individuals were paying big sums of money to be hoisted atop Mount Everest by the aid of trained Nepali Sherpas. I also heard that super billionaires are paying their way to space, and a list of such tourists is almost ready. People are now ready to spend money to be in someplace, for a one-of-a-kind experience.
But what if your work takes you places? This book is all about that – my impromptu visits to places around the world.
Some Extracts from the BookSorry! Out of Office on Business
- When I received an email from Dr. Ana Francisco, chairperson of an international association of scientists, inviting me to give a talk in Brazil, I did not hesitate to accept it. But when she mailed the name of the venue, I had no clue where the place was. The city of Ouro Preto was going to be the venue and I recall having shot a one-line query to her back, “Is there a plane going there?”
- What I saw was beyond description. I walked in silence, past the remnants of horror from history. The scale of what had happened back then was unimaginable. The numbers displayed everywhere bore testimony to shocking human brutality. On my way back to the exit, I walked along the rail lines that were laid to ferry prisoners into the camp. There were other tourists too, walking the line. But a group of students in uniform in front attracted me among all. Their teacher carried the flag of Israel, while he narrated the story in Hebrew in his one-way audio set. What a way to learn history, I thought. And then, a girl student stepped away, kneeled, and placed a rose on one of the rail tracks. I could not resist going to the same spot and taking my last snap of the agonizing trip.
- I was the only non-Chinese on the early morning flight from Hong Kong to Kunming. While the others got past the immigration gate quickly, I was asked a flurry of questions about the reasons for my trip. At the customs, they stopped me again. They escorted me with my luggage to a cabin and asked me to open my bags. A lady officer joined a man, apparently because she could speak some English. Then, suddenly they all stopped. Her companion had found something suspicious in my bag. Now all attention was on my bag. Their object of interest was my traveling cloth iron. Heavy and collapsible with a wire and a display light, it might have looked like a spying device to them I thought.
Non-Fiction Books by the Author