Sanjay and I had been in contact for some time but I first got to meet him by chance whilst consulting with a DMC in Delhi on a day when he was visiting. I didn’t know much about the NE of India at that stage, I’d seen some itineraries over the years but they also seemed to be the same set of repeated itineraries that were generally circulated. However, what impressed me about Sanjay was his knowledge of the region, passion for the destination and well thought out itineraries and ideas of how to truly promote this extraordinary and far less well known part of India.
- Who you are (naturally!)
A day dreamer lost in the practical world. Wish I had more time to dream on …. (this has changed now with the pandemic raging. Craving to have something on the plate to work on).
2. What inspired you to create your business?
Working with one of the foremost travel companies in Northeast India I could see first hand what tourists seek in a region like this, and what was really exciting was the fact that the Northeast was only opening up to foreign travellers then and there were many instances where we were the first to explore an area before promoting it. I like to build, and what better way than exploring the region, developing a product and fianally giving it shape to offer it to the intrpeid traveller. This spirit of sniffing something new, going over doing a recce has prompted me to do it my way and hence the birth of East India Travel Co.
3. An anecdote which epitomizes your India?
As a teenager from a small town in Assam going out to mega Bombay (now Mumbai) to spend a few days in my uncle’s house, I was itching to move about the city on my own (not depending on my aunt’s chauffeur driven Fiat car). After a taxi ride from Mahim to Cuffe Parade the driver, when given a hundred rupee note (big deal then) flipped few other notes and suddenly showed me a tenner and said I had given him that!! I was angry and nervous at the same time and started arguing with the scoundrel. From nowhere sauntered a heavy-set man and took over the ‘discussion’ and in a measured tone asked the driver to return the change. Not only that,he offered to escort me right till the doorstep of the apartment building where I was staying!! This is India — the good, the bad and when you expect things to turn ugly, there you are — an angel appears.
4. One thing that you can’t live without?
It was my blue jeans, now it’s my laptop!!
5. One thing that you hate?
Anything that is loud — music when it shouldn’t be, noise and loudmouths ..
6. If you could change one thing about India what would it be?
Change the way we perceive public administration. That people are more important than the guys who run various departments. That systems in place shouild take care of the people, not the other way round when the man in the street needs to take care of the systems.
7. Who is your greatest inspiration?
Haven’t come across him/ her yet, but it’s got to be something really big to wake me up from my self induced slumber on nothing-is-going-to change-my-view.
8. What is your favourite quote?
It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice
9. I have noticed huge changes in India over the last few years but what is the biggest change you have noticed in India over the last 10 years
Young India shedding the baggage of the past, caste doesn’t matter anymore to the educated Indian and ready to take on the pseudo-intellectual and call spade a spade.
10. What do you think are the biggest challenges India faces over the next ten years.
Reviving the great socio-cultural edifice that is real India. Bringing all and sundry to a cohesive whole to move forward as one great nation. Projecting India to the world as safe, caring, welcoming and as a significant global tourism powerhouse.
11. Which is the destination at the top of your bucket list?
China, with all its perceived worldview, it’s a wonder how they still manage to remain so attractive as a tourist destination
12. What is the one place you visited that you have NO desire to return to?
Difficult to say, no I can’t think of any. Maybe, I try to understand why a place is like what it is and, so, I don’t dislike it?
13. Book or Movie?
Book, any day. Cosying up with a book in the right environment beats everything else hands down.
14. Just for fun! I am doing a survey to find India’s most popular breakfast, what is yours?
Aloo paratha, but with sufficient aloo inside along with yogurt and mango pickle !
15. In retrospect, what is the one thing you wish you could have told your 20 year-old self.
Ah, there are so many things, but I wish I hadn’t taken such a long time to realise that life was slipping away — “…. and then one day you find, ten years have gone behind you, no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun”.
East India Travel Co (EITC), an inbound travel company engaged in promoting India’s Northeast has been passionately working to attract tourists who are on the look out for an immersive experience, be it culture, indigenous people, wildlife, treks & hikes, cycling, river tourism and more. You can find out more about North East India on: http://www.eastindiatravel.in/main/default.htm