In conversation with Joanna Lobo.
Independent writer. Dog mom. Curious tourist.
I’ve been travelling ever since I moved to Mumbai, 13 years back. Initially it was locally, between states and once I got my passport, abroad. I sometimes travelled as part of my work, going to cover events and spending hours just in transit to reach remote locations. But, those trips gave me as much joy as a well-planned vacation in a cold, hilly town. As a travel writer, I am often invited on sponsored trips and though hectic, they are still enjoyable. I often extend my stay in these places, so I can explore them my way. Now, as a freelance writer, I travel whenever I can (responsibilities permitting). I have savings that are in place mainly to fund my trips, because the INR is still very weak. The advantage of being a freelance writer is you need just a stable internet connection and your laptop - and you can work from anywhere.
In this year, my goal is to explore my home (Goa) and discover all its hidden beauty.
Let’s start with our first question, Joanna – how would you categorize your travel experiences?
I travel to break out of my world and explore cultures, people and places that are different from mine. I don’t travel to find myself or anything similarly grandiose. Being out on the road helps me challenge myself and my pre-conceived notions about life and other things. Living in another city or country means opening yourself up to many paths. It’s this unpredictability that I like.
Can you re-live one experience back home in India that is linked to a dream vacation?
Food is a big part of my life, and I like travel and food to co-exist seamlessly. The closest I’ve taken to a complete food vacation has been Kolkata in 2015. I went with a friend and we stayed at a Bengali friend’s home and did what people would consider touristy stuff. And, we ate, a lot. Sampling things like mutton rezala, luchi, rolls, nolengurer ice cream and more - for the first time, was a memorable experience.
Can you re-live one experience back home in India that is linked to a vacation that is out of the ordinary?
I’ve actually not travelled within India too much. I like being in unfamiliar places. Within India, a vacation that was exciting and adventurous was in Himachal Pradesh. Kasol was stunning. All you hear about the place is how different your vacation can be - they don’t tell it is remote and offers stunning natural beauty, the friendliest dogs, all kinds of cuisines and air so pure, it will hurt your city-ruined lungs!
During the pandemic, what’s it like to be stuck at home, with vacations on “doubtful” mode?
It’s difficult but it is absolutely necessary. Being able to travel is a privilege that I do not take for granted. Sitting at home in the middle of a pandemic is the right thing to do, so I do it. That being said, I do miss finding myself in new and unfamiliar places and exposing my palate to different tastes.
How soon do you think things will take to come back to normal?
It depends on how we are defining normal these days. If I believe the media, people are travelling and borders have opened up across the world to tourists. I think it will take another year at least for the vaccine rollouts to be successful and for countries to open up their borders to travellers from India.
All images used are courtesy of Joanna Lobo
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