Q. 1 What do you enjoy the most about travelling ?
It’s the journey, which I enjoy the most. It’s about reaching the destination, in the best possible and exciting manner. For instance, one could just fly to Leh, but the real fun is when you actually drive to Leh from Chandigarh, or from Srinagar. It’s not just exploring the place, but meeting different kinds of people, getting a glimpse of their lifestyle and being with nature, all by yourself. For me, travelling has been more about self-discovery.
Q. 2 So, you like to take the route less travelled?
Yes. For example, if I have to drive from Srinagar to Leh, you can take the regular highway, but there’s another route via Batalik Sector, which I discovered recently; it is very close to the Pakistan border. People do not take that route, because it’s longer, isolated and scary. But I enjoyed taking that route. I like exploring places that people generally avoid, but I make sure that I am well-equipped for the trip.
Q. 3 Who do you usually travel with?
Mostly alone. I just take my car, and drive off . Besides, I sometimes go camping with my college friends, and of course, my wife Manjhiri and her friends.
Q. 4 When was the first time you made a solo trip?
I think it was the trip to Jim Corbett, for which I bought a car, Tata 207, which is a pick-up vehicle. It has a cabin in the front, and an open space outside, and meant for such travel trips. It was in 2006, a time when my character was pretty popular on television, so I wanted to break-free. I was smitten by the idea of travelling. It was an exciting journey as I met a lot of people, made friends and spotted a tiger. It was my first full-fledged independent trip, when I didn’t have to depend on my father for pocket money or anything.
Q. 5 Which has been your most memorable trip?
It would be the trip that I took with my college friends, a few years back. We met in Delhi and went by the same Tata 207 pick-up truck. On a whim, we decided to climb a mountain, without having the right kind of equipment, and got lost somewhere in between. It took us six hours to climb down. It was a nine-day trip, and we camped out. I fell in love with a lot of Ladakhi girls. They would recognise me and I would ask them out the next day (laughs).
Q. 6 Do you agree, that travelling helps you gain lot of knowledge?
You accumulate a lot of knowledge about places and people when you travel. Though I’ve never tried to seek knowledge consciously, travel does add to your personality subtly. You become more wordly-wise and experienced, but that’s not why I travel. Travelling helps me to just get comfortable in every situation, because as an actor also, you’re thrown into different situations and you have to adapt to it.
Q. 7 What else has travelling taught you?
There are times when you pick up references for yourself as an actor, and are not able to recollect the source of it. The other takeaways from travelling is that it keeps you grounded. There are people who don’t know you, and that’s when you meet reality in the closest form. I’m always playing Rajeev Khandelwal when I’m in Mumbai, but at these places, you stand in the queue and do normal things. It’s important for us to feel that we’re not special; we’re as ordinary as everyone else.
Q. 8 So, travelling is more than just a hobby?
Yes, of course, it adds so much to my personality. Which is why, for me, it’s all about roughing it out, surviving difficult situations. Moreover, I think the way a person travels reflects his/her attitude towards life. I think that reflects my attitude because if I co-relate that to my career, I feel this is how I’ve actually followed my career as well. I don’t like going the usual route.
Q. 9 Do you also like experimenting with the cuisines of various areas as you travel?
I’m experimental, but most times, I don’t enjoy the cuisines. If you go to the remotest part of Himalayas, the kind of food that they eat is not very palatable. For example, the guys in Ladakh eat a lot of ‘thupka‘, it’s made of noodles, and a lot of other things. When I go for camping, I carry a lot of eatables, raw materials, and am always well-equipped, if I have to survive for a day!
Q. 10 Which are your favourite travel destinations?
My all-time favourite is Himachal and Leh-Ladakh. Then there’s also Uttaranchal. Arunachal Pradesh is outstanding. Manipur-Nagaland is beautiful too. And, Kashmir— I know it like the back of my hand, because I’ve driven through almost all the lanes of the place. Abroad, I travel, when I’m shooting. I’ve been to Europe, Middle-East, etc. But, I like travelling in India, because you know this belongs to you, it’s your own place, your own people, you don’t have to show your passport. If given a choice, I’d want to travel the whole world, but first I want to cover all of India. I want to cover the south. So, that’s next on the agenda.