“Some people exist, I choose to live”

I think that’s my own quote

When people ask me what I do for a living, I always say that I am a storyteller. But, until 2015, I was an accountant, crunching numbers in Bangalore. Following a personal crisis in 2014 I decided to take a break from numbers, and follow my passion in photography, philosophy, and writing. I quit my job and ended up joining goMowgli as a tour content creator and tour guide, a field that I had zero experience in. Driven only by instincts and a passion for learning. From then on it has been an incredible journey of meeting people, going to places that I have not been to, revisiting old places with a new perception; and most importantly doing things that I never imagined I was capable of doing (including building this website).

Since 2015 I Have Had An Incredible Journey And It Has Been Something Like This

GoMowgli Chapter

This was a picture taken when I was leading a tour for GoMowgli. Noovember 2015.

In June 2015 I moved to Mysore and started working as a tour curator and guide with goMowgli. After a week I was told by the company that I probably did not have it in me to be a tour guide! I was shattered. I was given a month’s times to prove myself. I was sent to Fort Kochi in July 2015 with the mission of creating a day tour in Fort Kochi.

This was taken in Jew Street Mattancherry in July 2015. Fort Kochi is always filled with street art, mainly because of the influence of the Kochi Muziris Biennale.

Neither did I know anybody in Fort Kochi, nor anything much about this place. Soon I built a rapport with some of the locals in Fort Kochi, ate and drank at local food stalls, took the local bus and ferry, and walked through as many alleys as possible. I did all these explorations while I stayed at the Happy Camper Hostel. Staying in the hostel gave me the opportunity to learn a lot of things about what it means to travel from the perspective of young backpackers who stayed there with me.

Bunk Bed At Happy Camper. Image from Happy Camper Archives

I walked and walked for hours every day putting together a tour that best showcased the essence of Fort Kochi in a day. By the end of the month I had enough local information about what a person could do in Fort Kochi, not for just one day, but for three days! I was not fired. By September 2015 goMowgli launched its Fort Kochi day tour and the multi-day Kerala tour. Very soon I realized that I enjoyed working as tour guide, because of the sheer fact that I got to meet so many people and learn so many new things from them!

A picture taken while trekking with goMowgli guests in Chokramudi Hills, Munnar Kerala. November 2015.

In January 2016 goMowgli decided to scale down its operations and I was soon faced with the scary prospect of being unemployed!

However, I was not ready to give up, I had full confidence in what I was doing, mainly on account of the incredible support I got from travelers in terms of the glowing reviews on TripAdvisor. I worked with goMowgli until March 2016 and then decided to move to Fort Kochi to become a freelance tour guide!

Happy Camper Chapter-

Featured in the Middle, Hector who was 73 years old and travelling with his crutch! Featured left, VIshal.

In June 2016 I moved to Fort Kochi and convinced my friend Swahel who owned Happy Camper Hostel to allow me and my friend Jithin to manage it. A lot of credit is to be given to Jithin for goMowgli and Happy Camper; here is a link to knowing more about Jithin and his incredible journey. In August 2016, my friend Vishal joined us. Vishal is an incredible Chef who gave up the big kitchens of 5-star hotels and to focus more on his passion to cook food and make people happy. Together we relaunched the Happy Camper Café with an international menu. We made Happy camper Backpacker hostel & Café a unique space filled with happy travelers, a place where you could count on for good travel advice.

Vishal and Jithin Playing Jenga with kids. These kids were with their parents who chose to stay at Happy Camper Hostel instead of a hotel or a guest house in Fort Kochi. August 2015

Happy Camper gave me the platform to meet more travelers and learn more things. My life in happy camper was a lot of fun and a big learning experience. Every day I used to meet a few dozen travelers, and most of them wanted to know what they could see in Fort Kochi, or to know where to go next or how to get to a certain place or what local food they should try.

One question that I had to answer every single day was “What to do in Fort Kochi?”

Initially my answers were from a fixed template, but over a period I learnt that each traveler is looking for something that is closer to their hearts. I quickly adapted and tried to get to know each traveler and tried to answer their questions keeping in mind what they would like the most. This was a very enjoyable task, because it challenged me to come up with an itinerary that was created to the specific taste of that traveler, to create something that they truly enjoyed and appreciated.

One thing I wanted to ensure was that, any guest who walks into happy camper should walk out as a friend. Featured in the picture wearing yellow T-shirt is Mario. I can’t quite recollect the other guy’s name (Happens sometimes after having met over 3000 unique people!

The fact that we enjoyed what we did at Happy Camper reflected in its success and we quickly became the most popular backpackers’ hostel and cafe in Fort Kochi! Unfortunately, in April 2020 we had to wind up Happy Camper owing to the global impact on tourism due to the COVID pandemic.

Raw Adventure Chapter-

Tours form Raw Adventure were always about local people and their stories. A picture taken sometime in 2018 while leading a tour in Fort Kochi.

While I was working at Happy Camper, I was still doing freelance tours for goMowgli and was looking for more clients in Fort Kochi. I wanted to establish myself as a well known tour guide in Fort Kochi. That is when opportunity presented itself in the form of Raw Adventure. Raw Adventure was started by Dax, a person whom I see as friend, philosopher, and mentor. Dax was looking to expand and in August 2016 Jithin and I became part of that adventure. Working with them helped me grow tremendously, Dax came with about 25 years of experience in the travel Industry and he was more than happy to share that knowledge with us.

Very soon I was managing Happy Camper, guiding tours for goMowgli, and guiding tours for Raw Adventure. Happy camper and goMowgli was mostly about backpackers, but it was Raw Adventure that gave me the opportunity to meet and interact with travelers who came through the premium tour companies.

Although we conducted most of our tours on mountain bikes from Scott & Trek; we went ahead and bought one of these classic Indian bicycles to add some jazz.

Raw adventure focused on highly localized experiences and enabled me to understand that what I saw as mundane until then was something that travelers found fascinating! This opened a whole new canvas for me to think and operate in a different way. I started to use this newfound knowledge to help travelers to better experience not just Fort Kochi but also other places that I had traveled to.

The iconic Bolero Camper Jeep. This was primarily used by Raw Adventure for transporting bicycles for our tours and also for all our shenanigans. Picture taken near Madurai in July 2017. This jeep is one of the most easily recognised vehivle in Fort Kochi.

Working with Dax was perhaps a big turning point in my career in the tourism industry. Dax did not believe in the nickel and dime business model, he always said that once a guest pays for your service you deliver everything you promised without compromise. That is a mantra that stuck to me and my philosophy of managing Happy Camper and delivering tours were rooted in this one simple mantra.

Working with Raw Adventure gave me my first recognition in the form of ‘Tour Guide of The Year Award For India’ by Audley Travels UK.

Why this website?

Picture of a boatman transporting sand from the backwaters of Kerala. Alappuzha November 2019. 40 Kilometers from Fort Kochi.

A big part of my life since I started working in the tourism sector was about sharing stories with travelers and gaining knowledge from their experiences. This is something that I want to continue doing, and I hope this website will be my virtual window to the world that will allow me to keep doing it.

Apart from travelling; I enjoy yoga, philosophy, writing, food, photography, aqua scaping, bike riding, etc. I am using this website to express myself in these topics as well, without any rhyme or reason. I will be putting up a host of content on this website that I hope you enjoy as much as I enjoyed creating it.

This introduction has already been rather long, but I am not a man of few words either. Below is the link to an account of my philosophy and life perceptions.

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