Dreams don’t have a timestamp, proves Sudha Mahalingam.
A fearless explorer and a voracious multitasker, Sudha Mahalingam brings with her an insight into travelling boldly with utmost sincerity and that nothing is ever too late. At the age of 68, she is armed with her backpack, travels to remote locations and stays at youth hostels. She has let nothing deter her from her dreams - neither her career nor her marriage or motherhood. Rather, she believes these aspects have buoyed her through her travels.
When she was young, Sudha took a family trip to Mahabalipuram and was amazed by a pack of gipsies in their vehicles. She still remembers wanting to join them and embark upon an adventure. Today, she owns 6 passports and has explored parts of 65 countries. As a journalist, Sudha travelled to Europe with her husband who was a bureaucrat. Yet, her childhood dream remained unfulfilled with the fancy five-star hotels and carefully planned trips. Sudha says, “I wanted to explore places in their raw and natural beauty.”
After she quit journalism in her mid-40s, an opportunity knocked. For the Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, she was chosen as an energy sector analyst. Travelling alone for work gave her a chance to kickstart the backpacking journey she had dreamt of. As a bold daredevil on a shoestring budget, she went to various places. Now, she’s compiled her experiences in a memoir containing snippets of those adventures and misadventures. The book is called ‘The Travel Gods Must Be Crazy.’
She’s travelled far and wide - be it the 32-day trek to Kailash Mansarovar in 1996 (her first solo trip) or diving deep into the sea to spot manta rays on Lady Elliot Island (the southernmost coral cay of the Great Barrier Reef) to crossing terrorist crossfire with the army personnel in Kashmir Valley or trekking under heavy rainfall through the Borneo Forest. The list is long and it doesn’t end. She’s put most of the journeys and photos up on her blog.
She believes in packing light with comfortable shoes ranging high on the priority. Her camera, tripod and other essentials are the only constants to all her trips. She likes to undertake what she calls, “real travel”. She mentions, “All your life, you are told what’s best for you, the things you can and cannot do, how certain places are safe and others are not. Travelling helps to put these preconceived notions and stereotypes to the test. It helps you not only discover yourself but also develop confidence and identify your strengths. It teaches you to draw upon your reserves and tackle crises too.”
Sudha has already planned her next trips for this year - Madagascar in September and Patagonia in December. Let us know what trips have you planned for this year in the comments below!
*Both the images in the cover photo are taken from footlooseindian.com.