Framed by Wanderlust with Neeraj Narayanan (Founder, This Guy’s On His Own Trip), Delhi, India

Neeraj Narayanan aka Captain Nero quit his job in 2013 to chase his dreams of living a life full of adventures. Since then he has been to 25 countries, run with the bulls in Spain, deep sea soloed in the South China sea, lived with gypsies in a cave, climbed an active volcano and been chased by a bear in Croatia. In Delhi, he spends most of his time sleeping or taking people on heritage walks. Join this guy on a trip, sometime. Until then, read about them here and see what secrets he’s sharing with me today.

Last place you visited
In the last seventy five days, I have been on the road for 67 days. Since June, I spent 50 odd days travelling through Turkey, Greece and then the heart of the Balkans ­ Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia, Serbia and Romania. Then after coming back to India and spending a week at home, I spent the next sixteen days in the mountains of Kashmir and Ladakh. I might be needing a holiday from a holiday now!

Three places on your travel wish list
South America, New Zealand and Antarctica. That is a lot of Tropic of Capricorn!

An unforgettable experience from a journey
Being lost in a forest in Thailand for three days and spending those days with five wild elephants. Initially, it started with me gingerly walking upto them and hoping they would not crush me. By the end of three days, I had learnt to mount them, climb up the trunk and sit on top, and bathe and feed them. One of the most beautiful experiences of my life.

Five things you always carry on holiday
I would love to believe I do not need many necessary things on a holiday. I want to stop carrying any phone soon enough. A camera and a set of clothes seem to be the only important things, besides a positive and open attitude and a desire to keep being overwhelmed.

Would you rather head to the beach, the mountains or city streets
I have always been a nature lover, so the first two attract me more. I do love smaller cities and towns too, though.

A place you’d like to visit again and again
Kotor (in Montenegro) looks like a picture postcard, arguably one of the prettiest places I have seen. But Bhutan is very close to my heart. I have lead four group trips there and they have all been very special.

A place you wish you hadn’t visited
That hasn’t happened to me yet. I want to go everywhere, and I think I will love them all.

A person (real/fictional) you’d like to go on holiday with, and where
Bear Grylls would always be a first choice. I love and look up to seemingly reckless adventurers, guys who are fearless and love nature and the outdoors. I would love to go on a trip with men like Bear or Will Gadd or Alex Hannold, to anywhere ­ a mountain, an uninhabited island, a treacherous landscape, an intimidating jungle ­ and live with them, and learn survival skills from them. That would be fantastic.

Your holidays are incomplete without
They are incomplete without me changing at least one plan last minute, incomplete without me having lived with at least one stranger, incomplete without me trying out at least one risky sport or adventure activity.

A stranger you met during a journey who you’re still in touch with
Well, I take people on group trips for a living. I am in touch with quite a few of them. From my solo trips, there are a couple of boys from America I met on an island in the South China Sea with whom I still talk online. And a couple of Spanish girls I met two years back.

If you’d like to participate in this or other Q&A series, holler on Twitter or leave a message below and I’ll be saying ‘Hi’ very soon!


My Way on the Highway (or why I’m sure my Driver Karma is outta whack)

When I was three months pregnant, I decided to make life simpler and travel to work at ease. So I could read, munch, stare outside and get lost in my stream of consciousness while someone drove me to work. It was also meant to be relaxing after a day’s work.

The man in question (appointed through very reliable driver of so-and-so) was young, brash, and always late. We’ll call him Driver No. 1 (yes, there are more). The wiser older people said I wasn’t used to having anyone work for me. I had to give it time and loads of patience. Yes, sometimes I could read or munch but I was never relaxed. I gave plenty of holidays, money before it was due but I could never trust the fella to turn up on time. And he never proved me wrong. So finally I decided to rid myself of the menace.

Problem not solved though. I was still barred from driving and had to put up with whoever or whatever was going to come next. Enter Driver No. 2, again sourced through the aforementioned reliable driver of so-and-so. The newbie was always on time. He also always spoke at length about nothing in particular and could not stop himself from driving like a maniac. In addition to the above, he thought the sun rose from his nether regions. Since he was Driver No.2, I decided to swallow a whole lot and just put up with him, tide through the months. Somehow we got to June, three months away from D-day, due date, life-changing experience etcetra. Then came Europe (free wheeling holiday in running shoes with baby bump to boot). Mr. Driver meanwhile outdid himself in my absence. Screamed, shouted and left father-in-law with sprained leg stranded in the middle of nowhere. There was no real reason for the behaviour, except he was an asshole. When you’re having a baby, everyone will tell you to think happy thoughts, stay calm and breathe easy. With Driver No. 2, life was anything but. So, unpleasant as it was, I didn’t regret his exit from my life.

But I was still three months away from freedom. So the hunt was on and fulfilled quite promptly in the form of Driver No. 3 (who had the distinction of getting me to one week before D-day). Seeing as he lasted till the end you would think I was happy. I don’t want to be hard on the guy and I’m sure I was being too picky. But sometimes his driving made me want to holler in his ear. There was nothing wrong with him per se. He drove safely, was always on time, did not speak a word and was very well mannered. But god-oh-god why would you always follow the slowest-moving vehicle and then honk to almighty. Or go right up to the person wishing to turn and then suddenly realise you have to swerve your way through to go straight. I realized I’m no back seat comfort seeker.

So I counted days, to deliverance, to abuse-while-you-cruise routine, to driver-proofing my life.

To finally being able to drive my way on the highway.

P.S.: Driver No. 3 is still alive and flourishing as assisted ride for father in-law. And I have a new menace to deal with. He’s a whole other story. Wait for it.