Kavita Kiran flâneuse
Something a step taken by you changes your whole life. let us meet Kavita Kiran, a solo traveller from Delhi sharing with us her experience with life.
Childhood is a very important phase of one’s life, we create an image of what we will be as adult. Please share your childhood with us.
I come from a very small town in Uttar Pradesh, where life doesn’t provide us with many opportunities for a child, as we would like. So, like everyone else, the main motto of my childhood was to secure the first position in my class. I was a topper throughout and also pretty good at whatever limited co-curricular activities happened at school. I have had a very protected and pampered childhood. Travelling was never something I thought I would be interested in. Even though my father is a great travelling enthusiast. He has travelled across the country and I guess it’s the same spirit which has passed on to me. It was only after I had left home completing my tenth standard and came to Delhi, and I began to explore and understand things better. Also, because as I was growing up, my experiences in life were also pushing me towards a certain perspective.
How does Delhi help you in shaping your life.
Delhi has been a huge influence on every aspect of my life. When I came to Delhi, I lived in different paying guests accommodation, where I met different people from all across the world. I was suddenly exposed to the variety of life. I was fascinated by one of my room mates who didn’t have a conventional job and was living a great life. She would travel across the country and it was for the first time that I realised how there can be different ways of living and one need not adhere to the traditional norms. I was a science student in school, but then I went against my family’s wishes and opted for Sociology in College. The experience I had in my college and through my discipline had played another magnanimous role in my perspective towards life. The idea that public spaces should be accessible to a woman as much as to man is the originating seed behind travelling. Also, Delhi is a city that I love to bits. It is a traveller’s paradise. I love exploring the different corners of the city. It adds a different charm to it.
Travelling is a delight for a flâneur, how the environment affects a human psychology according to you?
See, human psychology is never just about an individual. The environmental set up always influences human psychology. For example, as a woman in a city, whenever I think of strolling around a certain part of the city at a certain time, it is not like I can simply go and take a walk. Unfortunately, the environment that we live does not give us the freedom to be anywhere at anytime. It is even more difficult for a woman. There is always a lurking fear and apprehension in the mind, thanks to the society. So, since you have asked I will tell you this. Indian society is not in an evolved stage to accept women seen in public places like men are. I have been travelling since 2010, and till date, my parents know nothing about my travelling. I can’t tell them because they would be worried and then it would lead to more hassle. So, I am constantly under this pressure.
Tell us about your first expedition.
My first travelling experience was to Shimla in 2010 with my best friend. We had no idea about anything. We were stupid enough to book an early morning bus. But it was my first visit to the mountains and I have never looked back since then. Shimla remains to be special because of that. I was scared to death that bus might fall in the gorge but I enjoyed thoroughly.
While travelling your mind is on its own journey to the memory lanes, while you see people around with their own life, do you feel connected at some moment?
Travelling for me about learning from the people and experiences and then inculcate them within to grow as a person. Travelling is not a generalized experience.
I feel different things on different journeys. Some days when I am sitting by the window seat, looking at the life outside I feel a strange kind of happiness that surpasses all the negativity that I might be having. Some days, I feel extremely annoyed and don’t like anything around. But overall, it only enriches my life. I try to connect with the place and its history more than thinking about my own personal memories. Travelling for me is also a way to disconnect from my own self and rediscover life on its own It’s all about going with the flow.
How do you pack your backpack according to the terrain. And what is the essential, not to miss?
I mostly travel to the hills. So, my backpack always includes some warm clothes, shoes, few medicines and some other basic stuff. I try to pack minimal because there is no point in carrying the heavy backpack. I am still learning the art of backpacking. One should always travel light.
You mentioned about the accessibility of places to women, how you feel when places still not allowing the woman to enter?
I don’t think women are officially prohibited from places apart from some places of worship. Such rules are extremely regressive and I don’t think empty talks of development in our country means anything if women are not free to go anywhere, wearing anything. Women should be able to roam across without the fear of molestation.
We are improving. People like me and many other amazing women travellers are challenging the norms and claiming for their spaces. I just want to say that it should not be difficult for a woman just because of her gender.
How travelling changed you as a person?
Travelling doesn’t change anything if one is not willing to accept and change. For me, it has been a way to maintain my sanity and fight with my own demons. It provides me with a sense of freedom and makes me believe that nothing is impossible. It has been taught me how to be patient and respect things around me even if I might disagree with it. Primarily, travelling brings about the subtle emotions that we tend to lose in the monotony of life. Small things like flowers, animals, trees, appreciating them and just being grateful to be alive at the moment life is weirdly beautiful and that is what travelling makes me believe.
What name would you like to give to your biography?
Haha..that’s an interesting question. Let me think I can answer this in the end till then you can ask other questions.
The night before the journey is very long, tell us about the night before your first journey.
I don’t remember much about it because it was way back. But I must be really excited. It was the first time I was travelling out of Delhi without any preconceived notions or assumptions. It was not the time of Instagram and all, so I hardly knew anything or researched anything. I was very enthusiastic to start my first journey to the hills. The only thing I was worried about was that what if I die. My parents were not aware of it and so I was a little afraid as well. I must have thought to cancel the plan but then the sun rose and I did hop on to the bus.
How do you plan a journey?
I don’t plan much. I am an impulsive traveller. I travel whenever I feel the urge to travel. I don’t care much about making bookings and all. Of late, I have been making booking a day before. Earlier I just used to reach Kashmiri gate and board any bus I felt like. I like travelling on my own terms. So I don’t like planning too much. Travelling is all about flexibility It is one of the reasons I never travel with groups because then it becomes a manufactured process.
Travelling is an adventure that demands fitness, how do you keep yourself fit for travelling?
I already do a lot of walking in the city. So, I don’t face any issue during travelling. One should just avoid drinking and smoking and eat healthily, that’s what I believe. Currently, I am also cycling as to improve my fitness level during mountain hikes.
Listen, I have a bus to catch today for Shimla..can we wrap the interview soon?
Coming to an important portion, “food” tell us about some of your loved cuisines you have got a chance to taste.
About the food- I love local cuisines. I try to eat at the local Dhaba which is cheap and yummy. In Himachal one of my favourite food has been meat and rice in a small hamlet called Lohardi near Barot valley. It’s by far the most amazing food I have had with a chutney made from Rhododendron flowers. I like everything simple.
A message for the readers?
All I would like to say is that carve your own path. Feeling inspired from others is good but listen to your own instincts in travelling and also in general. And please don’t travel just for the sake of Instagram and Facebook or any other social media. Try to find and discover the life around you and appreciate it. India is a stunning place and we must all work towards make it better. Let’s all be responsible travellers.