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Inspiro India Official

Blog | Inspiration | Photography

20 June 2017

Women of India | Photo Series by Deepti Asthana

India is one of the fastest growing economies of the world but despite these developments; there is a wide gap between rural and urban India with respect to technology, living condition, economic empowerment, and most importantly women rights. More than 77% population of India resides in its rural parts making it one of the world’s largest rural establishment and also most diverse in terms of spoken languages, ethnicity and culture.

While documenting stories of women across India, I saw the dichotomy of these two Indias.. The contrast is astonishing. While baby girls are given away, sold, or even killed in parts of rural India, urban women are gradually seizing power and asking for their rights. While things are changing in bigger cities, rural India is still far behind, where discrimination against women is largely whitewashed using the label of ‘Indian culture’. When it comes to modernization of thought and freedom of choice and speech, the progress in this part has been minimal.

As a woman, I have experienced the uncertainties firsthand, through my own life and my mother’s struggles. After losing my father, when I was only four, I saw her single handedly fight for the most basic of rights and dignities in order to provide her children with a decent living. Standing next to her; through her fight for our survival, I have lived in constant fear for our safety and in a way lost my childhood. As a girl, growing up in a small town, I struggled to both ‘stand out’ as well as ‘fit in’ the stereotypical moulds of Indian culture.

The urban world I inhabit now is, however, completely oblivious to the rural world of India. Though they intersect at several levels, it is alarming, how little these two worlds interact and there is a need to connect these two worlds.  While I feel an ingrained need to tell my story through stories of many Indian women, I also want to bridge this gap through my long-term project ‘Women of India’. I want to provide the stories with a platform; an outlet that recognizes the plight of these women and allows the mainstream to identify with the fringes, which may hopefully lead to a change.

These stories are largely neglected in mainstream media and even if it surfaces occasionally it has a skewed perspective of presenting the story from a male point of view.  For instance while covering the agrarian crisis in Vidarbha; I realized the whole farmer suicide issue was viewed from the perspective of the male member of the family but it is important to tell the stories of widows who are left behind with the huge debt and responsibility of their children. Similarly in Punjab, the issue of female drug addicts is largely neglected and layered with stigma and barely 5% female drug addicts get appropriate treatment.

I strongly believe that the gender issues in rural India, which are largely different from urban India and western world are not highlighted and addressed appropriately.  Being a young woman from India, I feel I have this duty towards the future generations that these subdued voices get heard and they receive an equal rights to education and expression Through this project I intend to bring out stories of daily lives of these women, the stories of struggle, stories of victory, stories of breaking norms, and expose them to the modern India and the modern world.

Japiyammal, 34, sells dry fish to make living for her family. She also received a notice to vacate her home. After 50 years, government suddenly seems to have woken up from its deep slumber and has recognized the tourism potential, Dhanushkodi has to offer. The fishing community here relies on traditional methods of reading the winds, stars and direction of waves. Without any formal training on modern techniques of fishing and unavailability of any GPS or Wireless devices, it is very hard for Japiyammal and other fishing community, to leave their land and learn the new ways of fishing elsewhere.

Shakila Husain, 75, weaves to make money for her living in Maheshwar, Madhya Pradesh. Her own son pushed her out of her home and she now lives alone close to her work place. Belonging from a conservative Muslim society, it was difficult for her to step out from her home and work, but she refused to go to an old age home and is now the senior most member of ‘Women weaver’ society. She encourages women from her community to educate their daughters and allow them to work; so that they never have to depend on anyone.

Sangeeta, 38, widow of Ashok lives with her two sons, in Vidarbha, Maharashtra. Her younger son is a sickle cell anemia patient and dropped out of school to support the family. Once known for its cotton or ‘white gold’ production, Vidarbha now is notoriously known as the suicide belt of India. The region has been going through severe drought for the last ten years leading to almost 8,000 farmer suicide cases. So when a crisis-hit farmer kills himself, these widows are pushed further into more debt and are forced to take jobs as laborers on other farms to sustain.

Vaishnavi was only 5 when her father committed suicide. She now stays in a hostel in a relatively bigger village, as her mother can’t afford to pay for her daily travel to school. While she misses being at home, she is determined to become a doctor and provide free health services to her village. The younger generation is now distancing itself from agriculture after witnessing the pain of their fathers. With no crop insurance or a minimum support price, the farmers do not get a fair price for their crop, which piles up their debt year after year.

Sarita, 30, was only 17 when she got married to Praveen and now she has two kids. Praveen died just 7 months ago, which is the most recent case of farmer suicide. To take care of her children, she is now looking forward to start a small business of sewing clothes. While the local NGO tries to help the women and train them to make an alternate living; the Government has turned a blind eye towards the plight of these women. In most of the cases, the Government doesn’t acknowledge the suicide cases and labels them as family disputes.

Rural women usually cover their faces in a saree (the traditional long piece of clothing), a custom in many parts of India, following the conservative way of living. But it was exhilarating to witness a friendly swimming competition among these rural women in a ‘women-only’ section on the Ghats of Narmada River, Madhya Pradesh. Nestled away from their normal lives, they were oblivious to the outside world, for the time being and are seen flaunting their swimming skills to each other. time being and are seen flaunting their swimming skills to each other.

Krappa, 34, is a part of a nomadic family of approximately 10 members traveling together to sell iron stoves in Rajasthan. Without a permanent dwelling, the nomads live a meager life, creating makeshift homes and using woodstock for cooking. Women are given the responsibility of cooking for the family, while men talk to the customers. The smoke coming from traditional stoves is extremely harmful. Almost one million deaths occur annually in India due to household air pollution and most affected by this practice are women and children.

Anandi, 22 works along with her parents in salt-pan fields of Mithapur, Gujarat. Most workers here in the saltpans haven’t been able to escape this work for generations. While the contractor and companies earn millions, the wages have remained abysmally low for them. The laborers are not provided with any protection gears to cover their feet and hands. Working in extreme environments, these workers are prone to severe occupational hazard contracting fatal diseases. There is a saying here that if you are a saltpan worker, you have three ways to die: first gangrene, second TB or third blindness.

The seasonal migrants from Madhya Pradesh come to sugarcane farms of Gujarat at the end of the monsoon season, leaving their poorly irrigated land. In the sugarcane farms of Somnath, Gujarat, one element that stands out is the dark smoke coming out of the chimneys. While women work day in and day out to produce sugar, they are continually exposed to the smoke and pollution. All they can afford is a headscarf to save their hair from flakes and man’s shirt to save them from the heat. While profits continue to increase for owners, it’s the migrants that remain impoverished.

Sheela, 21, lives in a makeshift house by the sugarcane farm in Somnath, Gujarat. Migrants are compelled to live in sub-human conditions on work sites, which lack basic amenities and sanitation facilities. Most of these women submit their documents to the owner at the beginning of the season, which leaves them helpless and forces them to work throughout the season despite all odds. Women and child migrants form a vulnerable group facing serious lack of security without any identification and insurance. Women in particular face high risks of trafficking and various forms of exploitation, including forced prostitution.

 

Deepti Asthana is an independent photographer, born in 1986, in Uttar Pradesh, India. An engineer by training, Deepti was introduced to photography in 2012. She developed her passion for photography and explored different facets of it along with her day job, as an IT engineer. In 2016, she took the leap of faith and started to work as an independent photographer. Deepti wants to tell her story, through stories of Indian women settled in small towns and villages to highlight the gender issues in this part of India, which is largely different from urban India and the western world.

 

Photos & Words by ©Deepti Asthana

 

 

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Blog | Travel

19 June 2017

Traveller of the Week : Divyakshi Gupta

Born in Punjab and brought up in Mumbai, Divyakshi has spent all her summer vacations in a tiny town, nestled in the hills of Himachal.

Divyakshi Gupta, our Traveller of the Week, is a self-confessed door lover, who has a penchant for architecture, loves long road trips and travels to off beat places to explore different cultures, and discover stories outside and within.

 

Divyakshi Gupta

 

Travel runs in her blood. Her grandfather loved nature, her mother is always game for road trips and her father has sailed around the world. Growing up in a family that inherits the idea of travelling inspired her at a very young age when she fell in love with nature. Divyakshi has no memory of her first trip but she vividly remembers walking on a riverbank with pebbles, making paper boats and trying to reach out to the ripest mangoes to pluck. Spending time amidst the scenic beauty of the mountains, taking long walks by the river and reading books that complement such natural elegance has made her the itchy-feet nature lover she is today.  From starting her career as a strategic planner in advertising she has now happily resorted to being a freelance travel writer and a blogger who narrates her stories. One can read about her ventures on www.quirkywanderer.com and consult her for likewise social media campaigns. That being said, she has already done about 12 travel trips in the first six months of 2017.

Not only does she love to travel but also likes the company of like-minded people. Nature lovers, wildlife enthusiasts or bird watchers, irrespective of their age or location, they all have something to teach and inspire, she feels. With companions like these, the idea of travelling becomes enriching. She has her solo moments too even when she is in a group. Her favourite travel companion is her mother who she can beautifully enjoy silence with.

Divyakshi is of the opinion that coming back home is as dear to her as travelling. She questions the idea of ‘full-time travelling’ and wonders what that really means – is it being nomadic eternally or travelling non-stop?

The feeling of a homecoming for her is realised and valued even more when one’s continuously on the go. Travelling gives value to everything we take for granted in life otherwise and thus, returning home is the acknowledgement of that newly found realisation.

Travel plans for her can work both ways – planned or spontaneous. Sometimes planned trips go awry whilst instinctive detours can lead to remarkable learnings. Spontaneity leads to discoveries that become the highlight of one’s trip and provide opportunities for storytelling while planned trips ease out glitches, reduce risks and are economical.

 

Gurudongmar Lake, Sikkim

Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh

Kinnaur, Himachal Pradesh,

Myanmar

Kinner Kailash view

Valparai tea gardens

Venice

 

Divyakshi has a list of destinations that are her absolute favourite. She talks about them fondly with us.

  1. Kinnaur:

With its magnificent mountains, idyllic villages, warm people, great food, pristine rivers, and delightful orchards that place is next to a home for her.

 

  1. Rajasthan:  For its stunning architecture, vibrant colours, impeccable hospitality and the ability to make her travel back in time is close to her heart.

 

  1. Andamans:  This place for her is like paradise, she feels. The beaches are beyond beautiful, the forests are spectacular and the islands are mesmerising. She feels that it is highly underrated but is the perfect destination for her to unwind.

 

  1. North Sikkim, she feels, evokes the poet in her. The landscapes are surreal and the paucity of

oxygen makes it a little difficult but all the effort is worth it.  She can’t get enough of the tiny Himalayan villages and diverse forests with stunning lakes. Divyakshi expresses that North Sikkim is nature’s own painting.

 

  1. Offbeat forests near Coimbatore are a perfect detox. The thick tree canopies remind her of Amazonian rainforests where the sun doesn’t reach the forest floor. There isn’t any network there and she really doesn’t mind it. Forests of Annamalai, Parambikulam do that to her.

When Divyakshi is off to these places she never forgets her must-haves. Her list is quite interesting and enlightening as it talks not about material needs as much as it calls for a sound perspective. As told by her, her list comprises of an open mind, sensitivity towards surroundings, appreciation for local culture, a pepper spray to be her own hero, the ability to trust her gut, and well, her eyes as the best equipment.

Having travelled extensively in various parts of India like Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Uttaranchal, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Pondicherry, Andamans and Sikkim, she has had memorable trips internationally to Italy, Bhutan and Myanmar too.

Travel for her was an escape initially but eventually, it became her best teacher. Divyakshi feels that it is an exchange, between places, people, stories and her. It has made her open up, let go of her inhibitions, accept the world with open arms and most of all, it has bettered her as a human being, she feels. The biggest lesson Divyakshi has learnt from travelling is that we are all different and yet the same.

Words by Aishwarya Choudhary
Images by ©Divyakshi Gupta

 

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Art | Blog

17 June 2017

iidailyinspiration #135

Featuring series of inspiring images by creative heads from all over the world everyday as ‘iidailyinspiration’.

To contribute, send your work at info@inspiroindia.com along with subject: ‘iidailyinspiration’, your name and location.

Eg. Subject:- iidailyinspiration+name+location

Check out our previous series of inspiring images here – iidailyinspiration#134

 

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Featuring series of inspiring images by creative heads from all over the world everyday as iidailyinspiration’.

To contribute, send your work at info@inspiroindia.com along with subject: ‘iidailyinspiration’, your name and location.

Eg. Subject:- iidailyinspiration+name+location

 

Check out our previous series of inspiring images here – iidailyinspiration#133

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Art | Blog

16 June 2017

Creative Head of the week : Aparna Ramesh Mhatre

There were many influences that went into Aparna’s decision to select this field. Her early mentors and her family always encouraged her to explore opportunities in this field. They pointed her in the right direction to explore the possibilities. She has found that the only art style that’s universally understood is realism. Everyone’s heard the line “it looks just like a photo.” She thinks, for her, other styles hold so much more interest, both emotionally and in terms of the level of technical skill. She is not using any special tools for her work. She just tries to do her work with perfection to give it a little professional touch. Her inspiration is her parents’ effort on her. Her paintings also inspire her. They give her the positive energy to do more and more perfect work. It usually takes her 3 to 4 hours to complete one art work. But, sometimes it takes up to 1 to 2 days.

About Inspiro India, “I think it is the only right platform for my artwork.”

 

Photos by ©Aparna Ramesh Mhatre

Follow Aparna : Instagram

 

“Inspiro India will be featuring bloggers every week irrespective of what they blog. To get featured on Inspiro India simply use ‘#iiblogger’ on Instagram ”

Check out his full feature in November’16 Edition of Inspiro India Magazine issue#30 – Download Free.

 

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Blog | Inspiration

16 June 2017

iidailyinspiration #134

Featuring series of inspiring images by creative heads from all over the world everyday as ‘iidailyinspiration’.

To contribute, send your work at info@inspiroindia.com along with subject: ‘iidailyinspiration’, your name and location.

Eg. Subject:- iidailyinspiration+name+location

Check out our previous series of inspiring images here – iidailyinspiration#133

 

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Featuring series of inspiring images by creative heads from all over the world everyday as iidailyinspiration’.

To contribute, send your work at info@inspiroindia.com along with subject: ‘iidailyinspiration’, your name and location.

Eg. Subject:- iidailyinspiration+name+location

 

Check out our previous series of inspiring images here – iidailyinspiration#132

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Art | Blog | Interviews

15 June 2017

Interview with Illustrator : Nithin Rao Kumblekar

Meet Nithin, an illustrator who started drawing from very young age and didn’t stop. To follow his passion he quit his job and started freelancing.

Nithin Rao Kumblekar

 

Inspiro India: How did you get started? What first got you into Illustration? Tell us a bit about yourself.

– We all used to draw when we were kids. But I didn’t stop drawing even after growing up. So it is tough to tell what inspired me to continue this. After completing school I joined Chitrakala Parishad in Bangalore and specialised in applied arts. I joined the advertising agency as an art director, but I was not satisfied with that since anyone with art knowledge can become art director, but not an illustrator. So I decided to quit my job and started freelancing as an illustrator.

 

Inspiro India: How would you best describe your style of illustration? And the challenges you faced as an artist/illustrator?

– I concentrate more on lighting. Play of light and shadow is what makes my works look good. At the same time I try to get realism even while exaggerating the characters.

Sometimes clients or the agency ask me to do changes in the illustration. I do the changes if it ads value to the illustration. If I feel it is going to ruin the work then I refuse to do the changes. It is tough to convince the clients sometimes. But you must say “no” if you want to keep that work in your portfolio.

 

 

Inspiro India: What are the tools you couldn’t live without? Can you please explain about your work process?

– I started illustrating with pencil and then scanning them into photoshop and then colour it. But then I bought pen tablet which improved my style. Now I have Wacom monitor which gives the same experience as drawing on paper. I like traditional medium too, but for me digital is faster and good for my style. For me Photoshop is god.

 

Inspiro India: Is studying illustration in college worth the cost or do you recommend an alternative?

– If you want a career in designing field then fine art colleges are worth. But if you have already completed your college in other field then I don’t think joining a fine art college again is a good idea. It’s better to practise on our own or join hobby classes.

 

Inspiro India: Can you explain a little about Detailing in your illustrations? 

– People like detailed works. But we lose patience while drawing.

I spend a lot of time starring at my works than creating them. If I feel something is not right then I can’t sleep without fixing the illustration.

 

Inspiro India: What did you want to become as a child?

– I always wanted to be an artist. Now I’m just an illustrator and I’m working towards becoming an artist who does not work for a client. I do personal work whenever I get time. And my personal works are my favourite. That is makes me feel I’m an artist.

 

Inspiro India: What do you enjoy most about being a illustrator/designer?

– In my mind I feel like a scientist who is inventing or creating something in his lab. I love my job. During my school days I used to copy sketches from books. But I was not happy with that. I always thought why can’t I be the guy who creates from nothing and not just copy from other works. Now I’m happy that I create illustrations on my own.

 

Inspiro India: What are you passionate about besides your work?

– I like shooting people (with camera). These days it is easy for people add photography as a hobby because of digital cameras. But I started photography in school with my dad’s manual SLR. In those cameras without the knowledge of light it was almost impossible to shoot good pictures. I’m not a pro in studio lights. But I want to dig deeper into studio.

 

©Nithin Rao Kumblekar

 

Inspiro India: What advice would you as an artist give to other creative heads out there ? And Some creative tips you’d like to share?

– The internet era has changed the way we work. There are thousands of artist around the globe, and many of them will have similar style like yours. That’s totally fine as long as you put effort to improve your work from the last one you did. But we should not copy or steal someone else’s work.

We can’t call ourself designers or creative if we just copy or download some images to create the work.

 

Check out his full feature in May’16 Edition of Inspiro India Magazine issue#28 – Download Free.

 

 

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Blog | Inspiration

15 June 2017

iidailyinspiration #133

Featuring series of inspiring images by creative heads from all over the world everyday as ‘iidailyinspiration’.

To contribute, send your work at info@inspiroindia.com along with subject: ‘iidailyinspiration’, your name and location.

Eg. Subject:- iidailyinspiration+name+location

Check out our previous series of inspiring images here – iidailyinspiration#132

 

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Featuring series of inspiring images by creative heads from all over the world everyday as iidailyinspiration’.

To contribute, send your work at info@inspiroindia.com along with subject: ‘iidailyinspiration’, your name and location.

Eg. Subject:- iidailyinspiration+name+location

 

Check out our previous series of inspiring images here – iidailyinspiration#131

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Blog

14 June 2017

Blogger of the Week : Varun Singhania

The immense love and support from you ‘Creative Heads’ have been surreal over the past few years. Inspiro India wishes to grow with the growing population of ‘#inspiroindia‘. We’re continuously working to bring great content to anyone and everyone following us on various platforms.

This year we present to you, an all new feature presenting ‘The Blogger of the Week’.

 

Varun Singhania aka BeardsEyeView is many things but mostly a photographer, a personal style blogger and a hardcore beard enthusiast. He says he is a misfit, a non-conformist and an introvert.

 

While talking about his blog, he says, “My blog is a showcase of my personal style and experiments with my own wardrobe. My blog is an amalgamation of my personal style, my experiments in fashion, and a bit of travel and photography. I don’t endorse brands I don’t stand behind or the ones that don’t represent my personal style. It’s how I view fashion and how I like to see it on myself. I’m also not your typical tuxedo-wearing slick-haired dapper blogger.”

“My style is very fluid and it keeps evolving, but more often it’s a fusion between hipster and grunge/ street.” As he talks about his style.

 

Varun Singhania

 

His inspiration is a lot of Italian, Asian (Indian & Korean), underground street and tribal fashion.

Also, fashion within music, especially from the 80s inspires a lot.

Varun started blogging about 3 years ago and it was around the time He started growing  beard as well (pun intended). He says, “In fact, my beard was pretty much the game changer. It made me switch up my style and up my fashion game and I began documenting it. I also got into a lot of photography around the same time and my personal Instagram just evolved into a blog from there on.”

 

Varun’s take on blogging, “I believe that blogging should be a representation of who you are and what your views are. Whatever the core of it might be, it should always be authentic and stem from your own creativity. I don’t believe in blogs & bloggers that turn into mere advertisements and billboards.”

Varun’s blog was initially just his Instagram where he used to post his everyday photography and edits. It had nothing to do with fashion initially. “Around the same time I began growing a beard, and I began to be known as “beardie”. And it just suddenly hit me one day that I wanted an alias name; one that would be representative of not just my beard but also my vision. A friend and I got thinking, and the same day we came up with ‘Beards Eye View’ as a pun on the phrase ‘Bird’s Eye View’.”

 

He says, “My audience is a mix of beard enthusiasts, guys who want to switch up their style and women who appreciate a man who tries different things.” They’re scattered between the age group 15-30yrs and mostly from India, Italy and USA.

 

 

Varun says wherever his blog takes him regarding his future plans with blogging. “My interests are split between my blog and my photography currently, and I’m trying to find a way to fuse both. I want to experiment more with contemporary Indian fashion and also include more travel oriented content on the blog.”

 

He uses a Canon 6D and a GoPro, and occasionally iPhone.

Varun gives advice to readers would be to not judge. Never judge anyone for their style, their views and their take on things.

Two tips to future bloggers would be 1) Hire or collaborate with a good photographer. Quality pictures always make a great impression. Also, learn how to edit your own pictures/ videos. 2) Be yourself and experiment within your own style and comfort zone. Don’t be a sell out.

Words by Archita Rajkumari
©Varun Singhania

Follow Varun : Instagram | Website

 

“Inspiro India will be featuring bloggers every week irrespective of what they blog. To get featured on Inspiro India simply use ‘#iiblogger’ on Instagram ”

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Art | Blog

13 June 2017

The A-Z of a playlist | Type Series by Anushka

Anushka Tendolkar is a 20 year old communication design student with a keen interest in graphic design and is very passionate about photography. Born and brought up in Mumbai, Anushka has been in love with her city and all that it has to offer. She believes the city has made her the kind of person who just can’t sit idle because there’s so much to do and so little time. She always keeps her occupied by doing something or the other, trying to make the most of her day,everyday. Currently she is trying to experiment with her photography style and also get back into the habit of reading!

 

36 days of type is a worldwide challenge where designers and artists around the world recreate the 26 letters of the English alphabet and 0-9 numbers however they like it. Anushka was headstrong about taking up the challenge this year and decided to work with a theme which she just randomly decided would be her music playlist! Over the last couple of years, she has been introduced to some really great music and she thought it would be something she would enjoy doing throughout the challenge. Most of them were rock artists since rock is her favourite genre.

 

 

Anushka decided to do A-Z on her playlist excluding the numbers and posted them every day on Instagram for 26 days. She says it did get tough to keep up in the middle but everyone on her Instagram profile appreciated the project so much that it really kept her going. People were waiting for the next one every day and that made her really happy too. The best part she says was she would tag the artists for each letter and she actually got some recognition from the band ‘The script’ who started following her and liked her work; even ‘The Zombies’ reposted one of her letters on their official page so that was a really big deal for her.

 

The challenge was also a great learning process for her because she did get better at her skills by doing it every single day. Anushka usually sketches out what she visualises and then renders it digitally. So for most of these letters she had a rough sketch of how she wanted it to look and then went ahead with the digital part but some of them were just pure mix and match till they looked okay to her. All of them have been made by her on Adobe Photoshop. The series took Anushka a month to finish, since it was a letter a day with some delay here and there due to other commitments.

 

Anushka takes inspiration from everything and everyone around her. She does not have one idol as such because there are so many things to learn from so many people and places. But she says she is really Inspired by the idea of being so good at whatever she does that she gets actually recognised for her work while she is alive and hopefully makes a lot of money and buys herself tickets to wherever she wants to travel whenever she wants. Nevertheless, she wants to work hard like her parents and just be able to live life exactly the way she wants.

Words by Arvind Vairavan
Type Series by ©Anushka Tendolkar

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Blog | Travel

12 June 2017

Traveller of the Week : Dev

 

How many of us have been unsatisfied with our corporate lifestyle? How many of us have dreamed of leaving behind the monotony of life which has become a rut, to explore the world? How many of us have actually managed to do it? Well, our traveller of the week certainly has! He calls himself Footloose Dev, where Dev is his name and footloose is his way of life.

 

Dev

 

Two and half years ago, Dev was a shy corporate writer in Delhi. He loved his profession but not his job, so he tried switching jobs by running after the highly paid ones. But he always felt like something was amiss. Little did he know at that time that his growing discontentment was paving way for his new life. Dev could not conform to the society’s norm of taking life as it comes and eventually quit his job to embark on his first solo backpacking trip to Bhutan and North-eastern India, thus covering places in Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. This trip gave him many firsts such as his first taste of sweet freedom and his first experience of living with a local family who extended the invitation after meeting him at a restaurant. After this adventurous jaunt of two and a half months, Dev was spoilt for life. He quotes Mary Anne Radmacher saying “I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”

From this point, the only direction to move in was upwards, figuratively and literally, as Dev proceeded to travel across almost all the Northern states of India by transitioning into a full-time travel blogger. He has performed everything from snowboarding in Himachal Pradesh to scuba diving in Goa.He has eaten everything from the traditional thalis in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu to raw uncooked meat with blood dripping out of it, in Uttarakhand. Dev likes experimenting with his food. He has also sampled the exotic dish of jadoh in Meghalaya which is basically pig brain and intestine served with rice cooked in pig’s blood.

Apart from giving him memories that Dev will cherish for life, he feels that travelling has had an extremely positive impact on his personality. He finds himself to have become much more presentable and capable of being able to fend for himself. After having encountered so many different people on his long journey, he is more open to new ideas and philosophies. He describes his journey so far as pretty much hassle free except for the small mishap that occurred while backpacking across Europe. Dev was on his way back to the hotel after capturing the Bratislavian nightlife on his camera when he ran into 3 people who claimed to be Slovaks. They feigned curiosity about India and invited him to a bar which was pretty crowded. Unsuspecting Dev was engaged in a conversation by two of them, while the third person fled with his camera. Once Dev realised the same, he tried seeking out help but to no avail. He got in touch with the local newspapers who published this story which had left a bitter taste in his mouth. He even updated his Facebook followers about this experience. But what happened next restored Dev’s faith in humanity. Many people from Slovakia started contacting him on Facebook. They told him about how upset they were because of the incident and they offered to sponsor his stay the next time he visited Slovakia. They even donated money so Dev could buy a new camera and a guy called Peter gave Dev his Nikon D200 out of sheer kindness.

 

 

 

Dev definitely maybe a little more cautious now but the theft incident has done nothing to diffuse his enthusiasm or love for travelling. In fact, he is of the opinion that everyone should travel solo at least once in their lives and look for experiences beyond the guide book.  Since he prefers peaceful places, his top five must-visit destinations are:

Village of Nongriat, Meghalaya

The town of Basle, Switzerland

Lesser known beaches of Goa

Rome, Italy

Ljubljana, Slovenia

 

When it comes to travelling essentials, he cannot do without:

A headlamp

A dry sack

A first aid kid

Snack bars

A book

Footloose Dev, who is now a fearless and optimistic guy is definitely living the life of his dreams. He continues his cultural escapades as he finds it difficult to part with this kind of freedom which is like a drug. Here’s to hoping that this article inspires a few of the readers to follow his footsteps or carve their own.

Words by Khyati Bhuva
Images by ©Footloose Dev

 

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By

Inspiro India Official

Blog | Travel

10 June 2017

ZIRO VALLEY – Arunachal Pradesh’s best kept secret

In the mighty state of Arunachal Pradesh, where the sun’s rays first reach India, where more than 80% of the land is under forest cover, rests the pristine valley of Ziro. This lush valley is home to the Apatanis, a photographer’s muse and a subject of absolute fascination for anthropological and agricultural researchers alike. It has even spiked the interest of UNESCO but is still waiting cold to be declared as a World Heritage Site.

Ziro starts to intrigue you right from its name to the unmistakable facial tattoos and its internationally acclaimed ingenious method of paddy cum fish farming. If you didn’t know these facts yet, then this is probably the time you pause and sigh!

Now, farming practices and anthropology may not interest the casual traveller whose eyes are used to over saturated and photoshopped images of best destinations in the world. So does that mean Ziro’s invitation is limited to researchers and curious backpackers? This article may have the answer to that, and you as a reader will decide.

Lavish green paddy fields cover the valley’s land for the most part of the year and even when harvesting is over, one’s eyes are still treated to the oil painting-like backdrop of the pine trees that occupy the hills around the valley. Barring the roads within Ziro which are as good as non-existent and interrupts your meditative gaze at the beauty on offer, everything else seems to be in a state of artistic trance. Like the blue of the sky, the sun focussing its rays on certain patches of the forest cover with the help of its accomplice the clouds, so that the forest lights up in different hues of green, and to top it all off, the abundance of local brews ranging from plum, peach, kiwi, rice and millet that ensures even teetotallers don’t go back thirsty.

You need to hold steady and not let nature intoxicate you too much, for a walk into the villages of the Apatani people is still pending. This is when you find out how they live, what they eat, who/what do they worship and how is their Hindi so damn good! Walking through a village in Ziro also contributes to your quota of being mesmerised as their homes made of bamboo and pinewood invite you into their black and brown existence. The fascinating aspect of Apatani homes, like many other homes of Northeast Indian tribes, is the centrally located kitchen which is the centre of activity in the house. Every family member, guests and even the pets gather around for a cup of tea or a choice of local brew.Talking about drinking, if you aren’t comfortable eating rice, then you may find it difficult to palpate the locally grown thick rice which acts as a staple meal served three times a day, with generous portions of meat!

 

 

As a consequence of their animistic faith, their belief in the Sun and the Moon and other forces of nature, the people of the valley celebrate a lot of festivals and perform ‘pujas’ which revolves around rituals conducted by the priest and animal sacrifices. These festivals have become of interest to the tourist in the last 5 – 7 years like the Murung puja in January, the Myoko festival in March and the Dree festival in July.

Even though Ziro has been the way it is for centuries with a road connectivity established more than 40 years ago, the recent popularity of the Valley can be attributed to a certain music festival called the Ziro music festival started in 2011 after a touring band got hypnotised by the aura of the valley and decided to come back with more bands. This year the festival is scheduled to take place from the 28th of September to the 1st of October, just in time for the paddy fields to turn golden, right before harvesting. If this piece motivates you then visiting the valley during Ziro Festival might be the best journey of your life.

Words by Nishant Sinha

 

Photos by Javed Photography // ChaloHoppo

 

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