Thursday, March 17, 2011 Directing Indians around Europe like no guidebook can

It has been silence on my blog for so long. 

But my life has been noisy, chaotic, busy, exciting and full of challenge. I am no longer jobless, footloose and fancyfree in London. 

No, no. Nobody offered me a job. But I have created one for myself. I am now - Gentlemen and Ladies - the founder and editor of a travel website: It’s purpose: To Direct Indians Around Europe Like No Guidebook Can. 

I can say without any doubts that my site - which I started along with a friend and Erasmus-Mundus alumni, Sakshi Ojha ten days ago - is the first site connecting Europe as a holiday destination to Indian tourists in a dedicated way. 

You will roar, Come On! What about Lonely Planet? What about Time Out? What about Conde Nast Traveller? 

And my answer is, what about them? They are not written for Indians. Most guidebooks are written with Australian and American backpackers in mind. Will you ever find a reference to Bollywood, Indian history, vegetarianism, travelling with one’s old parents and most importantly, VISAS in these guidebooks. Nope. Because they don’t “do” Indians in these guidebooks. 

Which leaves us with the LP and CN Traveller magazines. These magazines will help you find destinations to travel to - exotic, far-off, mysterious, seductive, expensive destinations. But they won’t tell you how to deal with the realities of travel: how to get to these destinations, how to book for accommodation smartly, which visas to apply for, how to get the best of Rs--Euro exchange rate, how to get your public transport from the airport to the hotel, where to take taxis and where not, how to make the best of just a day in a new city, how to survive as a vegetarian in meat-dominated countries, and many such details that confuse, harass and worry us through our travels. 

And my experience is that lesser these niggles, the more travel becomes a pleasure. 

So I, along with five experienced Indians who have travelled around Europe, will do the honour.

My venture arises out of my frustration. While publishing in India is growing exponentially, most of it is aspirational, and little of it is arising from within. Yes, it is good to give people aspirations. But you should also give them the necessary tools to achieve those aspirations. My website is that practical, down-to-earth, riddled-in-reality tool. And I am damn proud of it. 

My project has arms, legs and brains. Will it have luck? That will depend on you. 

Visit my site, Indian Compass. Use it, read it, comment on it, criticise it - if you must - and help me make it something useful. 

And if you like it, go to its Facebook Page called Indian Compass, and like it there. 

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