Suyash Pandey is a 28-year-old Data Scientist born and brought up in Delhi who now works in developing and running statistical algorithms for his clients in the US.
The weekdays are spent on the computer running codes and building dashboards, he travels as frequently as he can! A lover of mountains over beaches and trains over aeroplanes, during his college days in Chennai, he got many opportunities to travel which he instantly grabbed.
Suyash has completed 8 treks in the Himalayas in 2017 as he has many look weekends to make use of, most of them were solo while the remaining were planned and executed with a close group of friends. “My most recent solo trek was the Sandakphu circuit, in West Bengal, where I did 85 km in 5 days. This trek allows for a good view of the 4 highest mountain peaks in the world including Mt. Everest”, says the traveller. Living down South, he was able to explore the western ghats as well.
Right from school days, the part-time traveller’s folks were very supportive of him. Trying out new activities, his folks had no objections to attending summer camps as well as rafting expeditions. “I’ve done week long rafting expeditions for 6 years straight, the longest stint being from Srinagar (Uttarakhand) on the Alaknanda river, crossing Dev Prayag Sangam and drifting down the Ganga to Rishikesh in 4-5 days”, he says.
Apart from treks, he likes to travel to different cities and explore different cultures and societies. It’s a blessing to live in India where there is so much diversity, he says. “What else does one want – Cheap buses, local street chai, welcoming families and a burning desire to explore”, says Pandey.
“Love for nature has been a prime driving force to venture out”, says Suyash. The support from his family has instilled a sense of confidence to do what he does now, travelling! Not really fond of the urban landscape, he’d rather be under a moonlit night sky than under a flashing ball of neon light in the sky. Animals are adored by this traveller, irrespective of their size. “So anything nature, and I would love to get involved”, he adds.
Personally, the traveller likes travelling solo or with a maximum of 2-3 of his close friends. Travelling solo gives him bandwidth to explore things the way he wants to. “When I’m solo, I go with the flow. Follow my heart. No social commitments”, says the explorer. A well bonded and like-minded group is a great company to travel with nonetheless!
Suyash Pandey plans all the important things in advance, rest everything can surprise him along the way. He doesn’t micro strategise at an hourly level, not having everything planned in advance allows for conversations with the locals. “I like to leave big room for spontaneity in a planned travel itinerary”, says Suyash.
Suyash has travelled to Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Delhi, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, last but not the least, Pondicherry! 19 States and 4 Union Territories out of a total of 29 States and 7 UTs, he says there is a lot more to see!
His 5 must-visit destinations to travel are Leh-Ladakh, Spiti Valley, Kaziranga-Shillong-Cherapunjee, Munnar in Kerala and Mahabalipuram-Pondicherry.
A few things a traveller should keep in mind are the will to explore, sense of belief in oneself and the alertness! A water bottle and a torch or headlamp are the other must-haves one should carry while travelling according to Pandey.
Suyash loves every aspect of travelling. Right from planning a trip to the final completion. Interacting with the locals and understanding how they go about their lives, a chat with a local elderly teaches him more than a lifetime of surfing the web. Those real-life anecdotes in a village somewhere hold more power to change hearts and habits and that’s what the traveller enjoys the most when it comes to travelling!
Better management and decision making is what Suyash has learnt on the trail. The need to make decisions which are justifiable, viable and practical decisions, in the end, is what he has learnt from his travels.
One such interesting story is set in the Chadar Trek. In the traveller’s own words here- “We are back from the trek and we’re waiting in Chilling, for the pickup vehicles to come from Leh. We’ve been waiting for 3 hours and there is no sign of the vehicle. I am there with 3 friends. And an entire extended group that is there with the trek company. While we’re waiting it’s already 4 in the afternoon and the drive to Leh is about 3 hours from Chilling.
While everyone is sulking over the fact that there is a delay in pickup, I notice the porters are leaving on a pickup truck, more like the open Boleros with seating for 3 people in the front and an open trailer at the back for carrying goods. I approach the driver. Ask him if he can take us to Leh. He tells me there’s no place. And plus I have 3 other friends, so it wouldn’t be possible to accommodate us all. I insist and tell him that we’ll hitchhike on the back, in the trailer. He reluctantly agrees. And what follows is the best mountain ride of our lives. We are 4 friends with a few other locals at the back while the porters sit in the front. The entire landscape is covered in snow while the cold, slushy Zanskar River flows adjacent to the road, below in the valley. The view is so grand that its difficult to sit down. We all stand and just gaze out at the landscape while cold minus 20-degree winds hit our face as the vehicle carefully moves on the snowed out road. We reach Leh half frozen but doubly smiling”.
Words by Harpreet
Images by ©Suyash Pandey
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