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Traveling with Mamta – An Interview with K Hari Kumar

Mamta Naidu is an IT professional, wildlife and equestrian enthusiast with a nomadic heart. She spends most of her free time riding horses or traveling with a camera dangling from her neck. Her travel diaries would inspire a generation to take up their passion. After conversations with Nivedita, Ella and Shalini, I got the opportunity to talk with Mamta regarding her passion- Traveling!

Has backpacking always been your passion in life? When was the first time it struck your mind- that you want to pack your bag and visit some place!

I’ve been a wildlife enthusiast all my life. I was more a junglee, traveling to Indian jungles in search of birds and snakes while my mother prayed that I come back home without a snakebite. That’s how it all began.

How has your journey been so far?

The journey has been extraordinary. Traveling has taught me more about life than years of formal education. I’ve met so many inspiring people during my travels who taught me about minimalistic and sustainable living.

How many places have you travelled? Tell us about the places you have been to.

I’ve traveled in Asia and Europe, and I just counted I visited 21 countries, 53 states. Funny thing about traveling for me is that, every time I go to a place, I’m like this is definitely my favorite place so far and then I go to the next place and that becomes my favorite place.

Recently, I went to Amsterdam with a closed mind. I told myself “this is not the kind of city I would enjoy exploring”. Big cities are last on my list of places to explore. A couple of hours after setting foot in Amsterdam I resolved, never to go to any place with a closed mind. Amsterdam, with its fascinating history, pleasantly surprised me. I learnt through the journey of traveling, every place is beautiful in its own right. The more I travel, the more I discover about how beautiful the world is and I thank God for creating such a marvel.

Bestselling Author Hari Kumar K - when Strangers meet

If you had only one day to live, where will you spend that day and doing what?

I’ll have a picnic with my favorite people in a big barn around my favorite horses.

Traveling is incomplete without 3 things- Vivid Food, Companionship of Books & Precious Photography. Which one is your favorite among the three?

If I must choose only one, then it should be photography.

Your instagram account is full of mind blowing photographs (My personal favorite is of the temples). Which 3 photographs from your insta account would you pick, if I were to ask you about the most precious travel moments in your life?

Always happy to spot a #horse or two #lüneburg

A photo posted by Mamta Naidu (@naidumamta) on

A tribute to the beautiful Earth in photos, my latest blog post, find link in bio. I feel grateful and privileged beyond words to be part of such a beautiful planet, perhaps the best place in the universe. A tribute to the beautiful Earth in my own little way for hosting me and bringing joy to my heart. For enduring inflicted pain and yet being ever so kind and loving. For all the beautiful creatures that inhabit the planet. For the elements, for the seasons, for the multitude of colors and textures and the list is endless. To sum up, Earth is Heaven. #beautifulearth #travelphotography #travelgram #photoessay #travelblog #landscape #nepal #annapurnacircuit #scenery #beautifulplanet #traveller #womantraveler #mamtanaidu #naidumamta

A photo posted by Mamta Naidu (@naidumamta) on

When it comes to food, tell us something interesting that you have had during your adventures.

When I started traveling I’ve had a lot of adventures with food itself. I’m a vegetarian and in Europe, conveying you need something vegetarian, in the local language at that, and finally getting something vegetarian to eat was a big fete. However, things are changing, as vegetarianism and veganism is catching up in the western world. Being a vegetarian is not an alien concept anymore.

Bestselling Books from Amazon at amazing discounts

String hoppers with sambol I had in Sri Lanka is something I keep craving for. I think we have something similar called Iddiyappam in India but I never had it in India.

From your blog, I reckon that you are a proud Hyderabadi. I have never been to the Nawab’s city (I almost got a chance once in 2014, but it didn’t happen). Tell us something about Hyderabad- the city, its people and culture.

First thing that comes to my mind when I think of Hyderabad is the Hyderabadi language.
Hau(yes), kaiku(why), nakko(don’t), chicha(dude), Kya tobi(what)…. I think it’s kind of cute. 😀
When I was in college, it was considered cool to speak Hyderabadi over English.

Hyderabad to me is long drives on Necklace road; eating gupchups (golgappa) on the streets; Secundrad, Begumpet and Banjara Hills for shopping & movies; Hi-Tech city for work; Golconda, Charminar, Birla Mandir, Ramoji film city, Shilpa ramam for picnics; Old city for Hyderabadi biryani, Koti for inexpensive shopping; Chilkur Balaji temple for visa; Haleem during Ramzan, Karachi biscuits for friends all over India.

Gosh! I miss Hyderabad.

How’s Kiel? It’s a place where I would love to live in a small farm (own or not) with Holsteins and Vorderwalds. Would you do that if you were in my place?

Coming from India any place in the world looks like it has been abandoned, for there are only handful of people living and Kiel is no different. It’s scantily populated, student city by the Baltic sea. Kiel has gorgeous beaches and especially beautiful in summer.

Excerpt from my blog I wrote about kiel:

I never imagined I would live on a coast, a mean and cold one at that. Baltic sea is considered one of the coldest seas in the world. It took me a while to wrap my head around the concept of seeking solace by the cold and breezy beach. I shudder when people say “let’s go to the beach and relax.” But coming back home to the Seagulls flying right in the middle of the town, squawking and sometimes perching on my windowsill and making life decision while busy pooping makes up for all the suffering I endured on the beach. I came with the mindset, when it rains life must pause for a little while but in Kiel it doesn’t work like that. When it rains, I should wear a raincoat and go to the University, for it rains in spring, summer, autumn and winter, sometimes 5 days a week.

If I were you, I would spend most of the warm days on beaches reading and writing.

Link for pictures here:

You love horses- cool! But Snakes? Please tell us if you have a collection of vipers and constrictors under your bed.

Ha ha. This is not the first time someone asked me that. Snakes, in my opinion, are the most misunderstood creatures.

Excerpt from my blog again:

Ever since I could spell cobra in school, I have been an ardent snake lover, much to my mother’s chagrin. Even as a kid, I thought snakes were mysterious and alluring. And my mother, who dragged me to the anthills every Nag Panchami – often mistaken for snake burrows – to seek the Snake God’s blessings, only heightened my fascination for these beautiful creatures.

I urge everyone who’s afraid of snakes or don’t think much of them to read this article:

During your traveling adventures in foreign lands, have you ever faced problems when you couldn’t speak the lingua franca of the locals?

Yes, many times. A biker even shouted at me in Italian for crossing the road at a wrong time. He he.. In Barcelona, my first solo trip, I stayed in a hostel and the warden only spoke Spanish. I wanted some help and he opened a translator and asked me type what I was saying.
But it’s not that big a challenge. People helped me on many occasions without understanding what I was saying. For instance, in Monaco a kind lady bought me a train ticket when I didn’t have coins to drop in the ticket machine. She couldn’t speak English and I couldn’t speak French.

Which is your next travel destination, when are you going there and what inspired you to visit it?

Next trip will be to Morocco, yet to finalize the dates though. It will be my first trip to Africa and going there to explore the culture and for the dessert.

The thing about Indians is that no matter where we go, we adhere to the traditions of the new home, but keep ourselves rooted in our culture. How far do you agree with this?

I agree. I guess it boils down to adopting and sharing the best practices.

Lots and lots of people want to do traveling in India. True to our Tourism board’s marketing campaign, India is absolutely incredible. Enlist Top 10 destinations that every person (Indian or Non-Indian) should visit in India.

This is tricky, it depends on individuals interest I suppose. I have a thing for villages, history, wildlife and mountains.

  • Hampi – for architecture, monuments, temples, food, treks, wildlife
  • Meghalaya – for root bridges, hiking, highest rainfall, culture, traditions
  • Agumbe – for wildlife, nature
  • Dharamshala – for Tibetan culture, treks, monks, mountains
  • The Himalayas – everyone should visit the mountains at least once, doesn’t matter what range
  • Velas – for village, for turtles
  • Andaman – for beaches, wildlife, diving, landscape, villages
  • Gokarna – for beaches, temples, landscape, food
  • Wayanad – Nature, landscape, long drive, weather, food, wildlife
  • Hyderabad – monuments, food, culture, shopping

What advice would you give to those who are still thinking about their first backpacking adventure? How to get started? How to manage funds?

Travel: doesn’t matter close or far, exotic or local. Like everything else in life, start small, start by exploring your neighborhood. If your heart is set, funds will be the least of the concerns.

Rapidfire Round:

Full name- Vuppu Mamta Naidu
Birthday- Aug 12
Sunsign- Leo
City of birth- Hyderabad
Mothertongue- Telugu
God- helps you when you have exams
Life- is beautiful
Love- to give
Marriage- not a bad idea
Favorite country- India
Favorite music- depends on the mood, right now in mood for coldplay
Fav movie- Shrek
Fav celebrity- You and Johnny Depp
When you were a kid, what did you want to become- President of America
If you became Queen of the world, what would you do- abolish arranged marriages wherever it is happening in the world and then pack my bags and go to Alaska
An original quote – Be good, do good and love earth

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Hari Kumar K
Harikumar Krishnamoorthy (born 3 January 1989), better known as K. Hari Kumar, is an Indian novelist born in Cochin and brought up in the suburbs of Gurgaon. He is the author of bestselling books- When Strangers Meet (2013), That Frequent Visitor (2015) and A Game of Gods (2016). He has been featured as one of the most influential authors on social media. He is a screenwriter and content marketing strategist based out of Mumbai, India.

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