Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Women and Wanderlust!

::: For my Travel column in the Horizon, The Assam Tribune
::: Published: 29March, 2008
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Angling in the countryside on a summer afternoon, with a pint of beer, smoke and John Denver’s classics for company, is something I can never do. Not because I would sip a glass of Mojitos instead, but because I am a woman. At home (being the only child), in the school, college and later during my years at work, I was quite convinced of the privileges of being born into the female form, till I was stung by the travel bug. Doses of Feminism (thanks to Delhi University) and a little digging into the Da Vinci Code further cemented a logic that we, women, are superior creatures, but physically not as strong and hence, subdued. Male readers may lower your spears – discussing the “war of sexes” is the last thing I would do on a weekend column. I was only brooding over those countless instances when my travel plans got shredded or had to be accommodated with dummy fellow travellers – just because it is “not safe” for me - a woman - to travel to such and such place, alone! Will the world ever change? Travelling solo, therefore, grew on me more out of necessity than of choice and I would very often by-pass advises, never tell my parents (I hope they miss this one) and venture alone just where I want . But to tell you the truth, there have been so many instances when I thought I would be punished for "disobedience" by being sold off to some one-eyed badmash across the border.
I almost gave up travelling and decided to concentrate on parenting Boomer (my 2 month old lab) instead, when I heard of Sumitra Senapaty’s WOW (Women on Wanderlust) Club. It is an exclusive travel club that hosts all-women tours across the globe. It seemed godsent! No, it is not a travel agency. The Club is what is called the “one-stop-shop” that arranges for everything right from your Visa, insurance, air/train tickets to hotel bookings et al – just what travel agencies do. But unlike contemporary travel agencies, they do not charge you the 60-70% extra just because you are without a partner (now you know why they always promote trips for two!). Sumitra analyses the profiles herself and places like-minded duos together. Which means you are not only saved the hassle of travelling solo as a backpacker, but you get a ready-made, like minded travel buddy. Though tagged a Club, it does not have any membership filtering and all you need to join a tour is stand upon your itchy feet and load your wallet a little.
Are you ransacking your brains where did you last heard “Sumitra”? You must have read some travelogue about kayaking in South China Sea, camping at African jungles, or snorkelling at the Great Barrier Reef in the travel sections of Times of India, Verve, Marie Claire or Femina and found a “By Sumitra Senapaty” bolded and highlighted. Simply put, Sumitra is a travel writer and after years of globe-trotting, she finally decided to start her own travel club. Whether it was a realisation of the limitations as women travellers or just the need to share her travel experiences, that inspired WOW, I can’t say, but her concept was a revolution of sorts. The WOW dashboard has trips ready for the year and it reads: Best of Egypt (14th Feb), Turkish Delights (19th April), Best of Italy (13th May), 3 country tour of Czech Republic, Hungary & Poland (9th June) and Leh Ladakh Tour (14th June and 15th August). The departures, however, are mostly from Delhi and Mumbai. The list was wanting in trips within India and Sumitra explained how women travellers with WOW prefer overseas destinations to those in India, because the latter mostly has families or friends to accompany them. Her WOW Club has one traveller from Guwahati so far and sounded enthusiastic when I declared my lineage.
Feel an itch under your feet already? You can reach Sumita at me@wowsumitra.com or 09891655054/080-26658025 for detailed itineraries, tour cost and departures. A warm voice awaits you at the other end, ready with her ‘wow’ ideas to inspire you to live your dreams, and this time, more so because you are a woman!
Next time your boyfriend/husband or your friends yawn at your travel gusto, you know who to call! And for your regular travel queries, you know who to mail (yours truly, that is!).
Post Script: On behalf of my Kolongporiya bodhu xokol, I thank you for your mails. Must say, you readers are amazing! For those who are wondering what I am talking about – a group of NRAs (non-Residential Assamese) from Nagaon, have volunteered to career counsel the aspiring lot in the fields of Travel Writing (me), Engineering (Amar Saikia, Gaurav Dey). Reach us at: kolongporiya@gmail.com.
WOW UPDATES:
1. Trip to Bhutan ((5 Nights, 6 days) :
> Takes off on 7th September 2008, ex Kolkatta.
> Total package cost: RS 39,500 per person on twin share / Single Occupancy – RS 10, 000 extra
>>> Contact Sumitra for Package inclusions and further details

3 comments:

lost on the street said...

that kolongporia career counselling thing sounds great good luck .Yeah count me among those who did their fair share of travelling alone- sometimes out of choice and sometimes due to lack of travelmates

Nidarshana said...

Great!!

So now I have one more number to call the next time Don says "I'm busy, please go ahead"!

Besides, being with women is a different world of fun altogether. Miss my girlfriends back in Delhi, you know!

Sumitra Senapaty said...

I often get envy calls from the male species wanting to Wander with WOW, but heavens!! not by any stretch of imagination! This is one place where men are not allowed! Perhaps.. Boomer could be a welcome exception on a Himachali trek...
Girl time is awesome fun, the sisterhood tells me.. rafting through rivers,wine tasting, snorkeling the Red Sea and ballooning over the Nile River..
Other WOW benefits - no husband in tow, you don't have to bother about where the kids will eat and what!!
For once in yourlife the holiday is all about you and for you - alone!!!
So girls sign up - Italy, East Europe or closer to home Leh, Ladakh!! Thanks Nidarshana for making more women think WOW!

Sumitra
WOW Founder