Today on HC Humanize, check out Ambuj from BnBNation. He mainly writes about India, but you can also some other really interesting travel pieces on his blog! Take a look:)
Name: Ambuj Saxena
Helping travelers experience Incredible India in its homes.
About Ambuj and his Blog
- When did you start blogging and why?
I had been blogging on and off since 2013 with my Dad who had completed his PhD on Bed and Breakfast rooms in Delhi (It is the only PhD on BnB in India. Additionally, he shall be releasing his book on BnBs in India). However, my elder brother, Anshul, started BnBNation in early 2016 with the aim to provide each foreign traveler, a taste of authentic India by cherry-picking safe and registered Bed and Breakfast rooms. This got me all fired up and I began doing what I used to love doing- sharing experiences through writing. While doing this, I have come across so many people saying good things about India which makes me feel so proud!
- What topics does your blog cover (in as much detail as you want)?
Through my blogs, I talk about anything and everything that comes under Tourism in India.
Indian Hospitality: Primarily, the focus is on the hospitality in India. I love getting stories about an Indian family making a foreign traveler comfortable at home or helping them out in some way. The best thing is to see the traveler going back with a smile. Surely, nothing can beat that!
Festivals with Indian families:
Travelers all over the world, are aware of the traditions and the warmth of the Indian people and the way we, Indians, go out of our way to keep a guest comfortable at home. India truly lives by the quote ‘Atithi Devo Bhavah’ (Guest is God). Thus, through my blogs, I show how a traveler has/can celebrate an Indian festival by not being a traveler but by being a family member: http://bnbnation.com/blog/holi-brings-colors-into-the-lives-of-martin-and-fanni/
Tourism is not just dependent on the people, it also depends on the macroeconomic policies of the Government so a lot of things need to work together to make a tourist destination. I want India to be a high earning tourist destination with least number of mishaps and traveler-related issues. Thus, some of the posts are aimed at how a particular Macroeconomic scheme will affect tourism in India. My blog on GST: http://bnbnation.com/blog/gst-tourism/
- Who do you admire and why?
I look for inspiration all around me. It helps grasp the way of doing something better. Among the ones that really inspire me the most are:
Mariellen Ward (http://breathedreamgo.com/)
Meg Jerrard (https://www.mappingmegan.com/)
While Mariellen Ward emphasises the cultural nitty gritty of a place, Meg Jerrard is able to travel to the Antarctic ocean and take a dip! I can’t even imagine doing that!
- What 3 items would you bring to a deserted island?
I am a no fuss traveler and need basic amenities whether on an island or in the heart of a city, and I’ll be fine. Some of the quintessential items that I would need are:
My headphones so that I can listen to some songs or catch radio signals.
Since it is a deserted island, I would love to binge on chocolates, cos hey apart from the pampering the taste buds, they make you feel happier and less hungry!
- What’s your all-time favourite quote?
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert
I really feel that nature is so huge that only hope can overcome it! There is Taj Mahal, Burj Khalifa, and other heritage and non-heritage sites to see! When I travel around the world and look at the wonderful things that nature and humans have built for us to see, I feel small yet inspired to make a worthwhile contribution to the world.
- What 3 things have you learnt from traveling?
Traveling has taught me many important lessons in life without saying a word. It’s tough to summarise them into just 3 lessons but I shall try.
- Stay Humble
When we stay in a comfort zone, we tend to gauge ourselves more than we actually are. We tend to throw tantrums, throw our weight around and take things for granted. But once we travel and meet people from different cultures and with different beliefs, we feel a lot more humble and realise what we are, how blessed we are and who we are surrounded with. I am a mere mortal and I have had ups and downs in my life too and traveling is one thing which helps me stay grounded.
- Stay Alert
Though Indian subcontinent has earned a not-so-good name when it comes to scams and scandals I can tell you of many scams that exist in other parts of the world too. You can just google and see people talking about them and how to get around the crooks! Thus, traveling has taught me to be prepared for the next day and stay alert with my belongings.
- Take it in your stride
Traveling alone has given me a lot of time to introspect about the things that have gone bad and the reasons behind them. It is human nature to blame someone for the wrong acts. However, Traveling and thinking have helped me realise that whether good or bad, it is all for the best! We need to learn to take things in our stride.
- What activities do you do when traveling (sports, sightseeing, beach, museums, …)?
Whenever I visit a tourist destination, I make it a point to get to know the major activities in the area and try to balance them out. I shall try and recall my most memorable trips around the globe.
I visited my brother and sister in law when they were in USA in 2009. We had a great time- we did sightseeing, binged on various cuisines, visited Elvis Presley’s home in Tupelo and his museum. I loved visiting the Coca Cola factory too. I am sure missing out on many things right now. But it was great fun nonetheless.
I went to Dubai in 2013 while I was pursuing my majors. I presented a social entrepreneurship case study with my classmates and loved roaming the streets in the evening after completing my work. I loved shopping in the Emirates Mall and the visited the Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. Gold Souq was fascinating too!
In Andaman islands, I loved doing scuba diving and wanted to be in the water all day long. However, the Limestone caves were too tempting to be missed. I loved visiting the Cellular jail where there is a famous light and sound show that narrates the struggle of India’s freedom war heroes that were locked up here.
- What’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you while you were traveling?
When I travel, I like observing people around me. I remember this incident where a 4- or 5-year-old kid in my train was fond of making funny faces. Before the baby entered the train, the atmosphere was serious but then came the kid and he made his funny faces at his dad. Everyone was in splits including the ticket checker! I couldn’t take his picture because I was too busy grinning and laughing but I can tell you travel could be so much fun!
- What are your favourite travel apps?
Google Maps is one app that I bank upon. Apart from that, I like to have Instagram to share my travel feed and occasionally go Live!
- What is your dream destination and why?
I have not traveled too much and don’t have a specific dream destination. However, there are a few places on my bucket list. One of them is Norway where I wish to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern lights). Germany intrigues me a lot! I wish to see the places where World wars were fought, see the tsunami affected areas of south east Asia, witness all the World Heritage sites across the world. So, my list is endless! I’m spoilt for choices and it’s tough to make a start! But I’m sure, if not all the countries, I will definitely visit more than a handful of them! Hopefully, I will get to review a few of them too. Nowadays, Israel and CIS countries are getting a lot of Indian tourists, so I am busy checking up their places of attraction. Wherever I go, I like to stay with a local family and experience the local culture first hand. I am done with checking into a hotel and becoming a mere room number! I wish to greet the locals, share their thoughts, eat like them, sleep the way they do and learn something new every day! Homestays are the way for me. May be that’s why I aggregate them back home in India too!
Enjoyed that? Then you’ll also enjoy the rest of the HC Humanize series!