In a search for our “Explorati”, we crossed paths with Yamini Gupta and she had so many stories to share with us. From gasping for a breath under an upturned raft in the Ganges to an adventurous drive through the hairpin turns of Munnar, the stories she shared made our day. From North to South, she has managed to put her footprint in more than 14 states and counting. A storyteller, traveller, blogger and a chai lover, Yamini finds time to explore and experience the world during the weekends. For her, the two days at the end of the week is not a cave for slumber, they are the days of ‘excitement’.
Growing up in Ghaziabad, Yamini did most of her travelling with her parents during the school summer vacations. Like many of us, she has worked hard to build her career with preparations starting early on in her life. Now a senior manager at Tata Communications, Delhi. Yamini did her graduation from the Delhi University and went on to do her MBA in Bangalore.
‘’I’ve spent a lot of time in building my career, preparing for it and studying for it. But at the same time, I also liked reading and writing. I was the kid who read a lot, dreamt of travelling and never missed a chance to tell a story’’
How I became a weekend warrior and travel blogger?
Things changed in 2014, after her marriage. This was the year more exploring started to happen. That year, she travelled to Goa, Pondicherry, and Munnar. “That’s when I realized that travelling can elevate your mood and spirit. Plus, with all my travels, I found I had many stories to tell too. That’s how my blog, Life on Weekends, was born”. For the past few years, she’s been travelling across India, all the while without taking her job for granted. With her meticulous planning, Yamini has managed to find a perfect work-life balance.
“I love my job and I love travelling too. I travel at least twice every month. This year I did not take any sick leave and not even a single leave for my personal needs. Each and every leave I took was for travelling.”
Weekends are her main victims. Her weekend journeys might be short but just like the saying goes, big things come in a small package. And it’s not just the weekends. Once a month, Yamini and her husband take a road trip to places just around Delhi, like Lucknow, Jhansi, Mcleodganj, etc. Other than that, every three months she will take a week off for travelling by working from home or clubbing her leaves with long weekends. Her last such week-long trip was to Rajasthan.
“We did a tour in Rajasthan earlier but it was mostly in the Marwar region-Jaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and Bikaner. But this time, with the kind of publicity of the movie Padmavath, we decided to start with Chithor. We went on to Kumbhalgarh, Dilwara temple at Mount Abu which is another marvellous temple built using the white marble. From there we proceeded to Jodhpur, Jaisalmer and then back to Delhi”.
As per her, the best thing about the road trip is finding those hidden gems which not many people know about. She came across the Bullet Baba Mandir in Chotila during their journey from Mount Abu to Jodhpur. The haunted Chand Baori stepwell in Abhaneri has also managed to find a place in her chest of stories. As per the myth, Chand Baori stepwell was built overnight by ghosts. Yamini believes that India has so much to offer for travellers with its ever-fascinating history, amazing landscapes and diverse cultures.
My near-death experience
“While rafting in Rishikesh, my raft overturned and I was stuck under it in the water. I couldn’t come back up to the surface despite having my lifejacket on, and yes, I was scared. I didn’t know what to do, but I gathered my strength and fortunately my guide came to my rescue and saved me. Even then, I did not for a second think I should stop travelling or stop seeking out new adventures, whether it’s trying out street food of every destination is visit or rafting in the Ganges. The point is, no matter what happens. I go on. When you are a traveller, your travels give you the strength and determination to go on without fear… and to keep pushing yourself. These are the stories I get to tell after all my travels.”
In fact, a month after her scare in Rishikesh, Yamini went paragliding in Bir Billing!
Biggest learning from travelling
One of the most scenic but dangerous roads in India is found on the route from Bandipur National Park and Annamalai National Park, in the hairpins of Munnar. Every time Yamini and her husband were on that road, they saw accidents. “If it hadn’t been for our good luck, we also could have been in one. A person almost crashed into us because he was driving on the wrong side!” But to their surprise, he apologised, moved his car away, and kept going.
They on a second occasion while on a road trip through the infamous “Chambal Ghati” of Madhya Pradesh
“Through travelling my biggest learning has been that people are basically nice everywhere, even in the places and circumstances you’d least expect.” This realization helps Yamini make the best of her travel experiences to continue crafting stories along the way.
Our lifestyle choices
For this couple, branded clothes, expensive fine dinings and weekend splurge at clubs and pubs are forgotten stories by now. Shopping is not looked upon up like a festival but rather a necessity. The quote ‘fill your life with experiences, not things’ shows the way.
“Once for our wedding anniversary, we decided to go for a special dinner. We ended up paying some 10000 rupees for a dinner. Both of us said nothing at that time but we knew that money could have been used better. We could’ve gone to Jaipur and come back during a weekend.”
How do I keep it light on the pocket?
“Instead of checking out expensive bars, clubs, and fine dining in Delhi, I would rather spend my time sipping tea in a cafe at Mcleodganj. Earlier, all those fancy things used to find a place in our plans, but now they are completely out of the question. We also don’t have many expensive habits for that matter. We believe that travelling can give you the best experience, which no fine dining or clubs can provide no matter how much you spend.”
- Avoid expensive restaurants, bars, and clubs;
- Research about things-to-do for your destination in advance;
- Plan in ahead to save a good deal of money in hotel bookings and air travel; and
- Go with road trips rather than air travel which can be too costly for a budget trip
India, a country where the culture differs with each turn, Yamini has treasured the bits and pieces of this plurality which she came across during all those journeys. From the north to the south, she can now brag with a bag of experiences and memories. For her, nothing is worth more than the goosebumps when she recalls them.