It’s the man himself, the first Soul Traveller. Varun tells us about what inspired him to start Soul Travelling and the road ahead. “Can't believe it's been a year already. I still remember that day on 12th November. The first ever Margao City Walk. I'd put in a lot of effort for curating it, but went easy on the promotions. Only 3 people turned up, but it was a lot of fun showing them around Margao. In the second walk, we focused more on promotions - and we had 26 people! This time we had to learn - about managing crowd. It's been a delightful journey since then. Born and brought up in Goa, it has a special place in my heart. I did my engineering, and then worked for 4 long years in the IT industry. My last job was in Frankfurt. I had an amazing time travelling the lengths and breaths of Europe, and realized that travel was a part of life in the European culture. People there don’t just travel for sightseeing. Exploring new cultures, traditions, cuisines, meeting new people are some of the reasons that drive European travellers. That is where the idea of Soul Travelling was born. In Goa, you have a very interesting Baga-Calangute model. You are bombarded with questions the moment you say you're from Goa - the stereotypes exist. So the time is ripe to break the stereotypes and provide an alternate model for Tourism - and that is what Soul Travelling intends to do - Change the way people perceive travel in Goa and rest of India.”
So, We at Soul Travelling believe that Tanvi gets high when she speaks about Bandora and so to get into the insights we thought we would ask her about her experiences so far with Soul Travelling! Here is what she had to say , “I was introduced to Soul Travelling by Sawani Shetye. Spoke to Varun and shared my idea of curating Bandora walk and he agreed and that is how it all happened. Walking and talking in my own village was an amazing experience because I got to explore it the way I had never done before ♥ The experience of working with soul travelling has been great. It is very flexible, comforting and relaxing. I have found myself a new identity. I believe that this whole idea will grab the attention of people towards the unseen Goa. It will make them realise that Goa isnt just about beaches. Glad to be a part of the revolution! “ Glad to have you with us
Our in-house poet, Sharvani is a student of French and psychology . She has been part of our team from last 6 months and conducts the Vasco walk with Tejas Pandit. She gets candid with us, “I came across Soul Travelling through friends in Ponda. Being a big fan of walking tours, I really wanted to go, but I couldn’t because the timings weren’t matching. Eventually, I got the chance when the Vasco Walk started. It was amazing! Varun knew that I wanted to be a part of the walks and since I already knew Tejas, they suggested I work with him. It was by far the best day. There are so many stories shared and such wonderful discussions that happen during the walks. It's like I'm falling in love with my city for the first time, like it was there for all this while and I never really noticed it, its beauty and it's stories. So even though I come prepared with my stuff, the stuff the participants add is beautiful. I've always been a shy person but the people at Soul Travelling are so nice, I feel at ease all the time. They're all fun and cheerful and don't hold back on the good vibes. Varun is an amazing leader too. He fixes things and he figures out ways to make something work and he's very supportive. Makes me want to be better every time. I am grateful for having known the people I know because of Soul Travelling. I think people are getting tired of doing the same old things in Goa and walking tours are a novel experience that they can try. This is going to make people want to get into the very heart of Goa and see it for what it is under all the noise of the pubs and the alcohol. We all know Goa isn't just beaches and booze, it's fields and tranquility, hills and sunsets and peace. We're gonna open up this introvert side of Goa to people and everyone is going to love it.”
Rujuta Borkar has been a member of our team for over 7 months, uncovering the Untold Mysteries of Comba. An assistant professor and literary expert by profession, we never realised when she turned from loyal customer to an ambassador. When asked about her journey so far, this is what she says, “Soul travelling happened after I attended the Margao Walk 4 times in a row and realised I really love the experience. Not just because I am highly interested in history, but also because of how much in love with Goa I am. When I learned they were looking to expand, it just seemed like the natural thing to do and spread the love, so to say. The walks are something that give you immense satisfaction. After taking all the efforts of designing a walk and giving it your all, when you hear comments like 'I've lived here my whole life and have never known this about the place', feels like all the sweat and grime has been worth it. It's also given me the ability to look at a place beyond its face value and find the secrets and history it proudly holds. Every place and space has a story to tell. It's been an amazing 7 months with Soul Travelling. One doesn't realise just exactly how much it teaches you--it's not the simple 'learning of some text', although there is that. But it's more to do with using all your skills--interviewing people, collecting stories, dealing with unwarranted situations and googlies from people--it's thrilling and adrenaline-inducing. There is finally something that breaks the myth of Goa being only about the beaches and booze. Personally, there have been so many people who have messaged me asking about the walks and trails to take their guests from out of town on. Perspectives about the state are changing and Soul Travelling has a major part to play in this.”
The newest entrant in our growing list of ambassadors is Mayuresh Khandeparkar. Currently pursuing a BSc in Mathematics and Geography from Parvatibai Chowgule College, Mayuresh loves reading, cycling, and consuming copious amounts of roadside tea on rainy days. His usually quiet demeanor and overall 'good boy' persona gives way to witty repartee and funny anecdotes once settled in his company. And although he hasn't experienced all that life has to offer, he feels Robert Frost wrote 'road less travelled' just to describe his inclinations. He loves interacting with people from different backgrounds and experiencing things that are set apart from the general trend. Which is why it makes complete sense that he was drawn to @soul.travelling ♥ This is his journey with Soul Travelling in his own words "So this goes back to when I was done with my 12th boards; I enrolled myself for the Margao City Walk and thoroughly enjoyed it. That's when it struck me, how great an idea it is to meet wonderful people, share anecdotes, and laugh along; and think of having had a splendid day before going to bed. I was hooked. I feel conventional tourism has been quite laidback and non-intellectual, typically in the Goan context. But the concept put forth by Soul Travelling i.e. to help tourists and even unaware locals, see places through the eyes of a native, one who has seen the place evolve, is beautiful. Soul Travelling is definitely taking significant steps towards changing tourism in Goa."
After a busy day of building marketing strategies, he likes a quiet stroll through his village of Veling. Sometimes, over the weekends you can find him honing his Ghumot skills. Meet Bhavesh Velingkar, MBA, Music enthusiast, Soul Traveller. We reached out to Bhavesh after we saw the pictures that he had shared of his village of Veling. We jumped at the chance of getting to conduct a walk in this beautiful village, that too with a thorough bred “local boy”. Over time, not only has Bhavesh conducted the Veling walk, but also takes up Ponda walks. Reminiscing over his time with Soul Travelling, he says, “Taking up this challenge of conducting the walk in my village definitely helped me understand my own home better. It was a nice experience talking to elders and realising how this village has evolved over the past few decades, yet how it holds on to its cultural heritage. After having learned so many things about my own village, it gives me a sense of satisfaction that we are getting these hidden secrets before the world. I feel locals will enjoy this experience as much as tourists. Many a times, we are so busy in our work and lives that we miss out on the history, culture and heritage of our own cities. This will bring many fun surprises to even the locals as they learn about their own Goa. The whole team at Soul Travelling is so full of life and passion. It’s always so much fun to meet everyone and especially hear the many interesting stories and trivia they have to share. I’m glad to be a part of this team and look forward to bring the true Goa to the world.”
(Mc Eugen Pinto) , the new addition to our Soul Travelling team, and our map into the nooks and cranies of Cansaulim. A local from Cansaulim, he's a keen wildlife photographer and an avid reader. He also loves reading up on the history of Goa, visiting different places of historical importance and trekking. When talking about his home Cansaulim, he says that the village has been on the map for two reasons- its Three Kings Feast, and its local market that sells excellent local produce, especially the goan sausage, better known as choriz. He says that there are establishments that have been in business for as long as 70 years. He's very glad and excited to be a part of the Soul Travelling team as he believes that this platform would get people acquainted with the more unknown facts about the more obscure places of Goa. He believes that the night-life, "beer and beaches" culture of Goa has overshadowed its culturally rich heritage and hopes that platforms like this would open up a completely different side of Goa to tourists, as a state full of rich history and a million stories. He adds that he looks forward to making the best out of it and sharing the stories of his village with the rest of the world