Taking the Road Less Travelled

The world came to a complete standstill after the most unanticipated global pandemic. Since then, we’ve seen a myriad of changes in our last two trips around the sun. The pandemic has slowed down life, bringing a newfound sense of responsibility and love for our earth. The need for an adventure and to get lost in a strange, new place is urgent.  All we need are a couple of tour guides to help manifest our nomadic dreams. 

So, as a part two to our list of favourite bloggers, we’re sharing with you some more creators that have evolved with the times and celebrate their love for what the earth has to offer. Responsibly, of course.

  1. @honey.imm.home

Image by @honey.imm.home

If you haven’t heard of them already, ‘Honey I’m Home’, or @honey.imm.home on Instagram is a travel vlogging couple named Atulan and Divesh. Having met at dance class, their love for each other slowly grew to a point where finally they decided to pack their bags and take to the road. They created their travel vlogging adventures on their very first trip to Goa and have been doing it ever since. Honey I’m Home celebrates their love for travel and each other. As queer men in a country so hostile to the community, Honey I’m Home gives a sense of hope and safety to queer folk who wish to travel and live candidly.

  1. @travelpilgrimage (sustainable travel and living)

Image by @travelpilgrimage

Aishwarya a.k.a @travelpilgrimage on Instagram, is an Instagram travel influencer. Recently having moved to Toronto, Aishwarya identifies as an eco traveller. She takes her time as she goes through different cultures and landscapes and her Instagram is an archive of her memories. She believes in slowing down otherwise fast paced travelling, promoting the idea of a calm, relaxed way of living. Along with the breathtaking sights of the northern Indian mountains, @travelpilgrimage is also a writer and often posts the poetry she has written throughout her adventures.

  1. Workaway (volunteering, culture exchange, language exchange, work exchange tourism) @workawayinfo

Image source @workawayinfo

The idea of slowing down life, especially tourism, is one that is currently resonating with a lot of folk. WorkAway.info is a network that has been making this possible and creating attainable travel goals. WorkAway connects people who wish to travel and explore different cultures with hosts who need help building their businesses or simply just need a helping hand. With little to no money, travellers can learn languages, explore cultures in exchange for handy work or creating art and many other fun activities. @workawayinfo on Instagram, chronicles the adventures of many people as they work away from home, exploring paradise in every corner of the globe.

  1. @kipepeoindia (sustainable tourism)

Image source @kipepeoindia

@kipepeoindia is an Eco Tour Agency based in North East India. They help transport you into the very unexplored and underrepresented regions of Bhutan and The North East of India. Their Instagram takes you through the nooks and crannies of some of the most spectacular landscapes and cultures. Kipepeo creates unique experiences in socially responsible ways, educating explorers on the communities through immersive treks and camps. They celebrate adventure and exploration through means that are safe and protective of the environment and cultures. *aggressive starts packing*

  1. @thehottestmowgli (animal rehabilitation)

Image source @thehottestmowgli

Abhirup Kadam a.k.a @thehottestmowgli on Instagram, is a wildlife influencer. Like his username, Abhirup is truly a character taken right out of The Jungle Book. He is a wildlife enthusiast who travels the world looking for creepy crawlies all over. Closely working with reptilians and animal rehabilitation, @thehottestmowgli is also the CEO of MARA (Maharashtra Animal Rescue Association). Abhirup is as offbeat as it gets, showcasing his love for reptiles and travel. He also shares this love for animals by conducting immersive and informative experiences for people who want to know more. Abhirup is slowly helping people learn and develop empathy for the stereotypically antagonised species, one scaly friend at a time.

Embracing the road less travelled definitely makes for the best travel stories. This World Tourism Day, let these unique travel experiences inspire you to live your life on your own unique terms, and just have fun. Happy travels!

Leveling the Playing Field

Surabhi Date is a Strength and Conditioning Coach and the former captain of the India Women’s Rugby team. She has led the India Rugby team at the 16th Asian Games (Guangzhou), and at other prestigious tournaments like the Singapore Sevens and the Borneo Sevens. She has also represented Auckland Rugby for two seasons. She currently offers speed, strength and power training for elite and sub-elite tennis players preparing for national and international competitions.

As a professional sportsperson, what are some of the questions you’ve been asked that you think a male athlete would never be asked? How do you respond to these?

“How long will you play for? I was a mother already at 23! When do you plan to settle down?”

Good for you. I captained the India rugby team when I was already 19. I continued playing for the country till I was 23, played rugby for Auckland at 24 and now I am busy training athletes to win medals at the Olympics. Reckon my plans of when and where and how to settle down are clearly different than yours.

“You have such big thighs. Are you doing anything about them?” (They basically mean reducing!)

Yes, I squat a 100 kilos and sprint at 6.6 meters per second. I can probably save you when you’re in trouble. But I probably won’t. Joking. Maybe not! 😏 


“Playing sport especially when you’re on your period must be hard, no? Do you take days off on during such times?”

Have you ever heard of a world champion draw out of competition when she was on her period? What will you do when a female person from your circle wants to make a career in sport, or is already facing the same problem? Will you teach them to back off when things get hard (every month for her entire sports career), or will you help them to deal with it and get stronger?


“This is such a rough game for a woman. Why do you even play this game? Why didn’t you choose a gentler game?”

Because rugby chose me. I never went out of my way to get into the game. I was meant to be here. It just happened to me. FYI I did try other sports like football, athletics and tennis. I really wanted to make it big in tennis.  But somehow life just kept bringing me back to rugby, effortlessly.

Because I’m the most alive when I’m on the field. And I would do whatever it takes to feel alive again and again. I’d rather live a fearless life and enjoy it with all my heart than live it with the fear of being hurt and end up staying in a cocoon. Injuries are a part of every athlete’s life, every sport, every gender. Sport has and continues to shape my life in a better and more meaningful way, every day. All these scars I have were important for my growth and I am extremely proud of them. Also, when I turn 50 years old, I never want to say, “When I was young and able, I had a lot of opportunities to play, but I chose my job instead.” I don’t want to regret. Sporting career is short. I want to live it fully with no regret. Asking a sportsperson why they play is such a ridiculous question.

What has kept you going on tough days? What advice would you give aspiring female athletes?

My main pillars to keep me going on my tough days are discipline, self-belief, a good support system and developing endurance. 

Discipline
Nothing unique about what I say here. It is quite known that discipline is much more impactful than motivation. It is a constant choice between choosing what you want now, and what you want the most. You will get uncomfortable and you will get used to it over time and you will do what is supposed to be done every damn day, no matter what. That is discipline.

Unbelievable faith in myself and my dreams
Self-belief is perhaps the most important aspect in an athlete’s life. When the going gets tough, my belief gives me hope and this hope keeps me going.  However bad it gets, there has to be something that you could do that’ll push you at least an inch closer to your goal. That push will only come when you have hope, which brings us back to— how much do you actually believe in yourself?

A good support system
No matter how strong you are, your family, mentors, friends are your pillars so don’t feel shy to reach out for help. Winning medals and in general succeeding in life is a team game. Although you are at the coalface, you win because of your support system. So, making sure you have your emergency dials and pin cushions and advisors ready is paramount.

In the Spotlight – Neha Panchamia

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the Spotlight, this week is Neha Panchamia. She’s an animal rescuer and the founder and president of RESQ, an organisation aimed to minimise human-animal conflict and provide relief to animals in distress. Read more to know her journey.

Tell us about yourself – how did you get into wildlife rescue?

My love for wildlife began when I was in boarding school. It was located near Bhimashankar, Maharashtra. I often felt like an intruder, watching and observing them in their home for hours on end. Once I came back to the city, it became infuriating after a point to keep watching people rescue animals, keep them in their homes or dump them in zoos or rescue centres permanently. I remember thinking to myself that ‘There has to be a better way of doing this and ensuring that an animal is not rescued only to be subjected to further suffering!’

I moved to Pune in 2006. There was a phase where I would constantly end up witnessing scenarios where a lot of wildlife would end up being subjected to unnecessary handling, captivity and mismanagement, all in the name of  ‘animal rescue or welfare.’ Pune District and the areas around it is home to a multitude of wildlife. The landscape that surrounds us and the amazing wildlife that thrives in it has greatly changed over the last decade. The growth in urban development, shifts in agricultural patterns and climatic changes have led to an increasing number of animals getting endangered, which started getting reported to our 24-hour animal emergency helpline at my organisation, RESQ. I decided that I wanted to change the way animal rescue and rehabilitation was done and since then, there has been no looking back.

What’s the story behind your initiative, RESQ?

“Are you just going to complain that nobody provides emergency rescue for animals in distress or are you going to just do it yourself?”  That’s what I asked myself back in 2007, one month before I founded RESQ. That’s where it all began. Fast forward to today;

Species no bar. I run RESQ Charitable Trust (RESQ) as the Founder and President, which is a not-for-profit that works with all kinds of animals – domestic and wildlife. Powered by human connections, we tackle problems hands-on with a smile every day! Over the years, I’ve rescued and rehabilitated hundreds of animals myself but collectively, as an organization that thrives on teamwork, RESQ has changed the lives of over 1,00,000+ animals since inception through its ‘response’ and ‘prevention’ verticals which include:

– Distressed Animal RESQ Teams (DART)

– Wildlife Rescue and Treatment Transit Centre

– Companion Animal Veterinary Hospital, Rehabilitation Centre and Sanctuary

– Disaster Relief and Rescue for Animals 

– Rabies Response and Testing Facility 

– Human-Animal Conflict Mitigation, Education and Awareness 

– Research and Training Programs

What are some of the biggest challenges you faced in your journey and how did you overcome them?

Our biggest challenge has always been finding a steady source of resources for our work. Especially in a country like ours, where there are so many social causes that are in dire need of attention and help, animal causes lie way below most people’s list. These challenges have often been overcome thanks to community support, but in recent times, we feel the need, even more, to stabilise this so that we can continue the work we do for animals, who are greatly dependent on the support we provide for them. 

What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to adopt an animal? 

I think it is extremely noble if one chooses to adopt an animal instead of purchasing one of pedigree from a breeder. However, there has to be a complete absence of bias when looking to adopt. You cannot justify adopting a Husky or a Pug because these are actually your favourite breed of dog and you’re just patting yourself on the back for saving yourself the trouble of paying a hefty amount to a breeder. Animals who have been re-homed from previous owners and are in need of a new loving home are looking exactly for that, love. You have to be patient, loving and firm because every animal that you choose to take home will also come along with its own endearing qualities but also some challenges. You need to ask yourself if you are at a time in your life and career where you can put aside enough time, energy and other resources to give your pet a fantastic quality of life; one that you would love to enjoy. Can you give your pet the best nutrition from the options out there? Will you commit to exercising them or spending time with them enriching their minds? Will you be able to afford veterinary bills if your pet falls sick? Will you be patient enough to work through house training or any challenging traits or temperaments?

Bringing pets home is a lifelong commitment and not a decision to be made lightly.

How does Social Media help you in building awareness around wildlife protection?

Social media has a large role to play when it comes to creating awareness. Documenting the various rescues that the team does shine a light on the various ways in which wild animals can be injured or trapped because of human activities. For example, nestlings and fledglings who become homeless and orphaned due to tree felling or marine animals which get trapped in fishing nets and hooks.

It is also a great tool to bring attention to vulnerable animal species and the risks they face due to industrialisation, urbanisation or changes in land-use patterns. When more people recognize how threatened or vulnerable certain kinds of animals are; that’s when moves can be made in the right direction to bring about their conservation. Social media can impact change in small yet significant ways, too. Even if a single person understands the right way to respond to coming across a snake and does not kill a snake fuelled by a knee-jerk fear or panic-based reaction; that’s one life saved.

How can people volunteer to help rescue animals?

If you have the time to dedicate to rescuing animals, you can do so on your own or alongside a network of like-minded people. It is not difficult to find and join forums like these online. No two rescuers are expected to be exactly as committed. If you cannot open your house to foster animals and can only offer to transport a sick or injured street animal to a veterinary clinic or shelter, that’s fine too. Often while rescuing an animal, stress and poor handling of the animal during rescue is what leads to more damage. So rescuing an animal safely using the right technique and equipment is just the first step. Thereafter, ensuring a swift release or minimum stress during transportation to a rehabilitation centre is the next. Go about rescuing animals responsibly. Do not trespass into private property. Always be up to date on your inoculations, especially vaccines against rabies and tetanus. Take care of yourself first. Never extend beyond your means. Temper your compassion with rational logic.

Tell us something about your ‘wildest’ rescue story.  

It is literally impossible for me to pinpoint one as the wildest! The funny thing is that even the wildest and most improbable stories wind up comprising just a regular day at RESQ

If your life were a book or movie, what would it be called?

Life the way I love it! 

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media accounts and why?

Dr. Joel Alves @the_conservation_vet and Dr. Heinrich Vollgraaf because the work they do for wildlife is incredible! I also love following Justin Mott @askmott because I think the images he captures of animals are simply powerful! 

Where can people get in touch with you?

Email [email protected]

Twitter @nehapanchamia 

Instagram @nehapanchamia

LinkedIn – Neha Panchamia

In the Spotlight – Pavandeep Singh

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Pavandeep Singh, a travel blogger and an entrepreneur. A foodie by heart, he’s the founder of Tadka Singh and also the co-founder of Tasty Tales. Read more to know his journey.

Tell us about your journey – how did you get introduced to the food business? 

I was always fascinated with food and its flavours. I was running my automotive business and started learning how to cook just as a hobby when I happened to take a barbeque class. In 2012,  I went to one of the flea markets in Bangalore called Kitsch mandi. It was then that I decided to set up my own stall in one of these markets to serve barbeque food. Just a couple of days prior to the event, I was told that no cooking equipment and gas would be allowed within the stalls, so barbeque was out of the question.   I went to my mom, who also loves cooking, and asked for her help to cook some dishes. To my surprise, everyone loved our food and we got sold out. That’s how it started. While still being in the automotive business, I started doing more of these flea market stalls. We were called the ‘Keema pav’ stall because of its popularity. Then we did NH7, October fest and other big music festivals. That’s how I realised this is what I truly wanted to do and started my first restaurant, Tadka Singh.  

What’s the story behind your ventures Tadka Singh and Tasty Tales?

I co-founded Tasty Tales with Rinka Banerjee who’s a food technologist. She’s a veteran in the food space, involved in  R&D for companies like Hindustan Unilever for 16 years. She had this idea to create a natural, ready-to-cook paste that would not only be preservative-free but would taste just like your grandmother’s traditional recipe. We got to know each other through our investors who also happened to be my mentor at Tadka Singh. Rinka and I connected. It took us about a year to do our research and our investor was kind to give us some money for it. We got our first 2 recipes from our mothers. The Amritsari Mutton Curry was my mother’s recipe while the Bengali Mustard Prawn was Rinka’s mother’s recipe. We took it to our investors and they loved it. That’s how we got our first pre-seed. 

Apart from being an entrepreneur, you’re also a travel blogger. Tell us the story behind Hungry Travellers

My wife and I share a love for travel and food. In fact, Hungry Travellers was my wife’s brainchild. Even today, she’s the primary reason for its success. During our college days, we used to discuss how our life and travel will be after we get married. Right from our marriage, we had this idea of blogging. Capturing our happy moments for ourselves seemed a fun idea. When platforms like Instagram and Facebook became mainstream, we started putting our stories, Initially, the audience was just our friends and family. But we started growing over time and amassed a lot of followers. 

What are the challenges you faced during the pandemic (as a restaurant founder as well as a traveller) – how did you overcome them?  

As a restaurant owner, I had a tough time. There were times when we had no revenue coming. We had to dig into our personal savings to pay employee salaries. During this time, we decided to help others around us. Through a hotline number on our Social Media, we offered free food to all Covid patients who showed their RT-PCR reports. We served thousands of meals through this initiative. 

My wife started Project Passion where she interviewed different people on the internet who followed their passion and made it their careers. She talked to a lot of people from a DJ to a dancer. This idea was well received and we also got a lot of new followers.

What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur? 

In your entrepreneurial journey, always believe in yourself. Never lose sight of your goal and keep persevering. Your resilience will keep you going. 

What’s your favourite travel destination and why?  

 I like Bali a lot. We went there many years ago before it became a touristy place. I like the place for its food and culture. My trip to Leh-Ladakh was also a memorable one. Besides these, my most favourite city in the world is New York. I love NY for its energy. The buzz is second to none. 

If your life were a book or movie, what would it be called and why? 

No guts, no glory or Good Grit. 

Name the top 3 things on your bucket list.  

  • A pan India food tour exploring the country through its food – from the streets to the fanciest restaurants 
  • Travel to Japan 
  • Bungee jumping and sky diving  in NZ

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

My favourites are food-related pages. So I like  Chef Zac and his  Chef on the road series on Instagram. I like Hungry Travellers because it’s great memories for me and Anushree

Where can people get in touch with you?

Hungry travellers 

Tadkasingh 

Tasty Tales

In the Spotlight – Vidhi Tamboli

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

This World Mental Health Day, we have Vidhi Tamboli in the spotlight. She’s a counselor and the founder of The Mood Space, an online counselling platform offering mental health therapy to South Asians across the world.

Tell us about your journey – what inspired you to start The Mood Space

The journey started when I and my colleague, Rhea, moved to Virginia to do our undergraduate studies together. Moving to a new country, away from home, was a challenging experience. In those instances, we felt that there was a lack of support in terms of being able to talk about our emotions. Having grown up in a typical Indian family, where there was a stigma around mental health,  we weren’t taught how to express our feelings. I later went on to pursue my Masters in Counseling Psychology from Columbia university. During my time in the US, I witnessed how people openly talk about their mental health. We wanted to bring mental health awareness in India, to demystify the stigma around therapy. This gave birth to The Mood Space in 2019. 

How does your venture help meet mental health needs of South Asians globally? 

We’re tackling the lack of awareness and building awareness through relatable content that everyone can understand. We use our platform to create communities, to create a familiar space where people can come and feel comfortable. We share recovery stories to not only motivate the ones telling them but also for others to see and understand that they are not alone. Through The Mood Space, we’re creating a larger impact for South Asians across the world, making therapy more accessible to them while matching them to a therapist who understands their specific needs. 

What are some of the challenges you faced in your career as a mental health professional and how did you overcome them? 

Starting a company in a space that’s highly stigmatised comes with a fair amount of challenges. Be it accessing people, to talk to them about something that they may not feel comfortable about or making them aware about the resources available, was a challenging experience. However, we tackled every challenge in our journey by taking one step at a time and creating solutions that make therapy more accessible to everyone. 

What are some of the misconceptions around mental health that should end? 

I think mental health, as a term, has been really misunderstood. Using terms like ‘ you’re crazy or ‘this is insane to someone taking therapy are traditional stereotypes of mental health illness that have been used widely around the country. Second is, thinking mental health illnesses are rare, which is not true. Every household, especially after the pandemic, is experiencing some level of stress, anxiety or relationship concerns. Another misconception is thinking that people with mental health illness can’t function well in a community. According to me, tackling this lack of understanding and creating awareness that mental health therapy is beneficial to everyone, is important, and that’s what we’re doing through The Mood Space

How does Social Media help you in building awareness about mental health? 

It’s a great platform to build awareness about mental health. There are some amazing pages where therapists talk about different areas of life. There are pages like The Mood Space where we post information and stories about mental health warriors who are battling with daily concerns but at the same time finding hope in the smallest of things that they do. Even when the pandemic hit and people were finding it difficult to express themselves, social media was the place that helped us to connect to them, to help them realise that they are not alone. 

What are some tips people should follow to mindfully consume Social Media? 

Social Media comes with a lot of positive aspects as well as with some negativity. One suggestion that I would like to give is, pick and choose who you’re following. For example, if you follow news or media channels that constantly throw information at you or influencers who make you feel insecure about how you look or feel,  you can become anxious. Long hours of scrolling, comparing yourself to others on social media creates a lot of pressure. Having said that, there are also many pages on social media that help you gain information and alleviate your stress. So, being able to draw that line and understanding how you’re consuming social media is important. 

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

There are many accounts that are doing good work, However, I think people should make a personal choice about the kind of content that works best for them. For example, I follow  Satvic Movement that can be useful for people to understand health better and connect to mother nature. Another account is Good Vibes that many love to follow. 

Since many people are working from home now, what advice would you give them to stay mentally well and healthy? 

  • Focus on nutrition 
  • Focus on your hydration levels
  • Find your focus in the present. When you find yourself overthinking about the past or your future, bring yourself in the moment. 
  • Develop self-care practices depending on what you like, be it reading, working out, playing a musical instrument, etc. 

Where can people get in touch with you?

Website: www.themoodspace.com 

Instagram: The Mood Space 

Facebook: The Mood Space

In the Spotlight – Sahil Makhija

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Sahil Makhija, a musician and the frontman of Demonic Resurrection, a Mumbai-based Blackened Death Metal collective. Read more to know his journey.

Tell us about your journey – when did you first get introduced to metal music?

I got introduced to heavy metal during school. I think my first brush with the genre was in the 6th grade. A friend made me listen to Iron Maiden’s self-titled album on his walkman. I distinctly remember being blown away by the song Running Free and my brain could not wrap itself around the song ‘Phantom Of The Opera’ but I totally enjoyed it. However, that was a one off incident and I deviated to more commercial music before being drawn back into the genre around the 9th grade. I was given a bunch of Metallica and Iron Maiden CD’s and cassettes to listen to and I remember I thought it was ‘too heavy’ at the time but something about it stuck with me and I dived deeper and deeper into the music. Pretty soon I was listening to bands that my school friends, who introduced me to metal, found too heavy. 

What’s the story behind your stage name Demonstealer?

As I explored deeper and deeper within the world of heavy metal, I fell in love with black metal. Bands like Dimmu Borgir, Cradle Of Filth, Old Man’s Child, Behemoth, Emperor and so on and so forth. In this genre, everyone seemed to have a stage name, and that concept really resonated with me. I loved the idea of a different persona on stage and having that kind of larger than life image. While most of the black metal musicians got their names from norse mythology or books like Lord Of The Rings, my 16-year-old brain wasn’t as well read. So after much thought and deliberation and realizing my love for demons and all things fantasy, I thought of Demonstealer and Demonslayer. The latter was too cheesy, so I went with Demonstealer

A guitarist, a vocalist and a drummer – you don many hats. Which aspect of your musicianship do you think describes you the best?

 I think I would best describe myself as a songwriter. Lyrics and music, I put that together to express myself through music. I’ve always looked at instruments as a means to an end. The end being the song. I never wanted to be the best guitarist or drummer or singer. I wanted to write music that resonated with people, that people wanted to listen to, that I wanted to listen to. For me, it was always the bigger picture. I started out as a vocalist so that would be my primary instrument so to speak, but I think now I enjoy playing the drums the most.

Tell us a little about your most memorable performance to date. 

I think just from an experience point of view it would be Inferno Festival in 2010, which was Demonic Resurrection’s first international performance. After 10 years of bursting onto the scene, we finally made it not just to the international stage but to the festival we used to dream about. It was really a dream come true moment. Of course, we have plenty of shows which are memorable for not so nice reasons like getting stuff thrown at us or being heckled and so on and so forth. But Inferno 2010 was a dream come true. 

Headbanger’s Kitchen has become quite popular over the years. How did this thought of bringing food and music strike you? 

The show is actually ‘accidentally popular’. I started it because I just started to get inspired by watching cooking videos on Youtube, and I was already posting and kind of writing out recipes on Facebook for fun. So when DR shot our first music video, I asked the director Srinivas if he would help me film my recipes. He said he would, but he felt just a recipe was boring and we should do something more exciting and that’s how we came up with the original concept of the show which was me cooking a dish inspired by a band who I would interview on the show and then they would taste the food I made. I did this for almost 4 years but the channel didn’t see any success and I felt it was best to devote my energy to making more music. However, I still enjoyed cooking so I started shooting videos on my own in my kitchen as and when I felt inspired. In December 2015, I got started on the Keto diet and seeing that I was making pizza out of cauliflower, my mind was blown so I filmed those recipes and that’s where the channel found success. I was one of the first channels doing Keto recipes, and it was just being in the right place at the right time. Next thing you know the channel has blown up from 5k subs to 10k in a few months and within a year I was nearly 100k. It was never planned or ever dreamt of even, it just happened. 

If you had to bring one artiste to the Headbanger’s Kitchen, who would it be and why? 

I’ve had the pleasure to interview some real legends on the older format of the show, and meet some of my heroes as well. I would love to have Nergal and the rest of Behemoth on the show. I’d love to make them like a whole roast pig or a leg of lamb or something quite meaty. 

What advice would you give to an aspiring musician, especially a metalhead? 

Keep your day job and play music on the side as a hobby. 

How do you like to spend your free time? 

I spend time with my wife watching shows or movies. Sometimes I take a nap but honestly, I don’t have much of a life outside of food and music. Like if I’m not working on either of those, I don’t know what to do with myself. 

Which are your favourite accounts to follow on Social Media and why? 

Some of the music accounts I like following are Metal Drummers United, Metal Drummer Nerdz and other extreme metal drumming accounts. I also follow all my favourite bands and musicians. When it comes to food, once again, I follow many accounts that I barely remember the name of, but they post lots of food porn. It’s just eye candy. 

Where can people get in touch with you?

People can find me and my various projects on almost every single social media platform. Depending on what you use, search for Headbanger’s Kitchen, Demonic Resurrection or Demonstealer. These are the 3 profiles I handle. 

In the Spotlight – Pooja Sharma

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Pooja Sharma, a celebrated dancer and choreographer. She’s an accomplished Bollywood and belly dancer, who talks about her early training, her inspiration and exploring the world through dance. Read on to know her story.

Tell us about your journey; how did you get introduced to dance? 

Dance comes very naturally to me. I grew up in a family which encouraged me to dance. Television was my only source to watch and learn dancing. When I was in 6th grade I got my first opportunity to dance on stage. That’s when I realised my passion for dance, which has only kept growing ever since. Over the years, I performed every chance I got. During my college life, I decided to start training professionally and joined a few classes. It was a life-changing decision for me because I got the opportunity to understand the technicalities of Dance. After a few years of training in different styles, I got introduced to belly dancing and fell in love with it instantly. I was smitten by the ease at which a Belly Dancer moves and wanted to dive right into learning it.

I started taking lessons on belly dancing in the year 2010 and the journey still continues with the same amount of passion. Bollywood and contemporary also remain very close to my heart because I believe dance understands no boundaries and being versatile is my biggest strength. It not only allows me to move with a sense of freedom but also opens up my mind to infinite possibilities in the world of creativity. 

Share the story of your most memorable performance. 

I miss stage performances. Although social media has become our platform today, performing on stage has always been a special experience. Every performance I’ve given on the stage has been a memorable one for me. 

As a dancer and choreographer, what excites you the most about the digital medium? 

Being inspired constantly, watching people’s art on digital platforms, looking at creators and their lifestyle, new ideas and concepts, all this excites me a lot. Even an amateur dancer can teach you new things. I get my students and clients from social media, and they keep me inspired in different ways.  

Who is that one artist you can’t wait to work with? 

I think there are so many if you ask me. There were different phases in life where different people inspired me. So, it’s difficult to pick a person. From my friends to even a stranger, anyone can be an inspiration for me. My inspiration keeps changing and is different for different reasons. So, it’s difficult to pick a person. 

If you had to pick just one dance form to do all your life, which one would it be? 

I just want to dance. I want the freedom that doesn’t ask me to pick just one dance form. I like to lead a life without restricting myself to one dance form. I have always been creating fusions with my choreography so that I do not have to stick to any one form and restrict my expression.   

What kind of brands do you like to collaborate with, as a Social Media influencer? What are some of your considerations when a brand approaches you? 

I like brands, big or small, that are respectful with their approach. If I love the cause behind the brand, I’ll collaborate out of my love for dance. Transparency and kindness are also important factors for me to be able to say yes for a brand collaboration. 

Name the top 3 things on your bucket list.
I do not have many, but there’s this one thing I’ve always wanted to do.

Travel, dance and teach. I’ve been trying to do it for years now. Keep moving to different places, keep dancing and find myself in that journey. Hopefully, I’ll embark on this journey soon.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be? 

Nothing. Let it happen the way it has and have no regrets. I would say, I’m grateful for how I have evolved to become what I am today.

Where can people get in touch with you? 

Instagram

YouTube 

Gmail

I teach Belly Dance, Bollywood and Creative movement for kids. Available for one on one sessions as well, currently online via Zoom (Due to the pandemic)

In the Spotlight – Suchi Vora

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week we have Suchi Vora, an architect, interior designer and the force behind SVAC- a young design studio with a unique aesthetic. Suchi shares with us her perspective on blending creativity and pragmatism through her design practice to build spaces responsibility. Read on to know her story.

Tell us about your journey – what inspired you to become an architect? 

Interestingly, I’ve always known I wanted to be an architect. I grew up thinking I wanted to work in a profession with a positive impact. Having a creative push growing up, I also needed a strong practical aspect. At that time, I thought architecture was the most interesting and sensible combination. 

How would you describe your venture, SVAC? 

We are a young design workshop. We are young, we are experimental, we are a design practice that operates at the intersection of architecture, landscape, urbanism and art. We think of design as a research vehicle to pose and respond to complex, urgent questions in the built environment, engaging in the wider context and also the climate of a project– social, ecological, or political. What you build needs to be relevant for a long time, and I cannot escape responsibility for what I design.

What do you love the most about your job? 

I love that each project is completely different. Every client is unique and with personalities and ideas that define a project in the most unique way. Design is all about people. I love that I can see the world with a new set of eyes with each client and to be able to tell their story with my perspective of design.  

What is the biggest challenge of running your own architectural firm and how do you try to overcome it? 

I was quite worried about being able to have the right design culture for my firm, but I think I have been able to build a space for our workshop where the culture we are looking for automatically thrives.

What’s your dream project? (It could be one you’ve already worked on, or something that you would love to get the opportunity to design)

Hopefully, a new solution in materiality or planning that can be applicable to more than just one project; something that has a positive. climatic impact.

Which city, would you say, has the best architecture in the world? 

I am certain that there are several. Picking one would be unfair since this is like picking out a city for the best food in the world. Having said that, Barcelona is close to my heart. 

In the last few years, what are some of the most exciting trends or changes that you’ve experienced in your industry? 

I think, live architecture. Live facade essentially is one of the coolest trends that is here to stay.

How do you like to spend your free time? 

I try to spend a lot of time learning new adventure sports every chance we get to be out of town. I’m learning paragliding at the moment, and let’s not forget sleeping. I love sleeping.

What’s the first thing you want to do once this pandemic is over?

Throw a party. I think I will host a gig at our studio, I’ve been wanting to do it for a while.

Where can people get in touch with you?

Check us out on Instagram or Facebook, or just drop by our office for chai. We are always looking for interesting conversations on our katta. [email protected] 

In the Spotlight – Ashwin Bapat

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight we have Ashwin Bapat, a lover of football, movies and all things music! A professional santoor player, Ashwin lets us in on his musical journey, as he talks about his origin as a musician, his aspirations and his experience of teaching the craft.

Tell us about your journey – how did you get into music? 

My mom’s side of the family is into classical music so I was naturally drawn to it right from the time I was born. I formally started learning the tabla at the age of 5 and I learnt it for 13 years. When I was 12 years old I heard the Santoor for the first time and instantly fell in love with the sound of the instrument, but I started learning it at the age of 18.

Where do you draw creative inspiration from? 

My inspiration comes from basic things in nature or whatever emotions you experience in life. I’m not a very emotionally expressive person so my music is generally an outlet for whatever I’m feeling. It also originates from spirituality so most of my inspiration comes from turning inward rather than from any external things. 

Describe the experience of performing for All India Radio as a child artiste.

 I think I must’ve been around 8 or 9 years old when I auditioned for the All India Radio. At that age, everything was just fun and games so I never took it that seriously. Luckily I got selected after which I performed a few times. The whole world of studios and recordings was very new for me. Till then I had only performed live on stage so I remember being fascinated by the whole process. Funnily enough, I never actually heard any of my recitals when they were aired because I was either at school or something. 

Share the story behind your most memorable performance. What made it special?

I would say I have 2 equally memorable performances, one was at the age of 12 or so when I performed in front of tabla maestros like Pt. Suresh Talwalkar Ji, Pt. Vijay Ghate, Satyajit Talwalkar and many more. The other one would be when I performed at the Suburban Music Festival in Mumbai. This one was extremely memorable because it’s a very illustrious festival for around 75 years and the greatest legends of Indian classical music have performed on that stage. So just to be associated with that was an extremely proud and memorable moment.

Who’s the one artist you’d love to collaborate with and why?

If I ever get a chance, it would be the biggest honour to perform with Ustad Zakir Hussain. It’s every musician’s dream to one day get a chance to share the stage with him, so I guess it would be my greatest wish to come true if I get that opportunity.

What do you think the future of Indian classical music looks like? 

The future of Indian classical music is very bright. As any music or art form does, even Indian classical music is evolving as it always has across centuries. But currently, more and more young people are getting drawn to it. They’re learning it or at least listening to it and respecting it. And there’s a huge number of extremely talented young artists in vocal and instrumental music as well as dance. So I think Indian classical music has a very bright future and is in very good hands. 

What has been the biggest challenge of having to teach music online during the pandemic? 

It’s been extremely difficult. Most of my online students are between the age of 4 – 12. In a face to face class, I can physically explain the hand positions and movements and if required even adjust their hand positions by actually holding their hand. So firstly, it’s very hard to hold their attention online for an entire hour and also to explain various hand positions through a screen. Also many times with the lag and other network issues, it’s very hard to get your message across. It’s very hard because if their hands get used to some wrong technique it’s much harder to unlearn and change that in the future. So it’s been tough but we’ve all learnt to get around that. 

How do you like to spend your free time?

I’m a massive football fan, so I love to watch and study various aspects of the game and almost every other sport as well. I read quite a bit. I listen to a lot of various types of music, which is extremely important for the growth of a musician. And I love watching movies and all the various new shows available today. I never have a problem with spending time actually, in fact on most days I think days should be longer.

What’s the first thing you want to do once this pandemic is over? 

Get on stage! Can’t wait to feel the energy and adrenaline rush of being in front of a crowd. It’s a feeling I relish. No doubt there are nerves involved but it’s the kind I love. So definitely waiting for concerts to start as soon as possible.

Where can people get in touch with you/see your work?

Instagram and Facebook. Most people reach me for concerts as well on these two platforms.

In the Spotlight – Saksham Kulkarni

Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.

In the spotlight this week is Saksham Kulkarni, a young Marathi actor best recognised for his roles in Pak Pak Pakaak and De Dhakka, among others. Read on to know his story.

Tell us about your journey— what inspired you to get into acting? 

My family has always been an art lover. So while growing up, I was exposed to many good films, listened to eminent singers, and watched good plays. And I was totally fascinated. Since childhood, my family always encouraged me to take part in various extracurricular activities such as elocution competitions, fancy dress competitions, and I used to love it on stage. There was no stage fright. So we figured if I feel confident on stage, how about giving auditions for the camera. I gave a couple of auditions and got my first acting part when I was in 4th grade. My family always supported and encouraged me to improve my acting techniques. I attended many theatre and film workshops which helped me a lot. 

 Describe the experience of working on your debut film, Pak Pak Pakaak. 

It was truly amazing. I was 12 years old back then. More than 300 kids had auditioned for the part. The makers liked my audition so much that I was finalised instantly. The director, Gautam Joglekar, encouraged me to give my best in every scene. He gave me good insights while we were developing the character of Chikhloo which helped me a lot. Working with Nana Patekar taught me a lot of things. Many scenes were improvised on the set. It helped me to improve my improvisation skill. Also, since we were shooting on film, I got to know the production side as well. We used to rehearse a shot many times until we thought it was ready to be captured. I still remember Nana kaka and Gautam dada telling me, ‘Keep on rehearsing until you think it is good enough.’ Everyone on set truly believed that we were making something unique and which will be cherished many years down the line. 

Share your most memorable ‘Behind the scenes’ story from a film/series you were a part of. 

The scene in Shikshanachya Aaicha Gho where Bharat Jadhav accidentally hits me with a bat; was pretty late in the night when we started shooting that scene. Everyone was really tired and sleepy but we knew that this scene was the most important part of the film. Mahesh Manjrekar called Bharat kaka and me and told us that this is the room where we will be filming the scene. He told us that he wanted the scene in one shot to maintain the intensity. He told us to improvise the whole scene, and the camera was to be placed according to our improvisation. It was an amazing experience for me to improvise with Bharat kaka and Mahesh kaka. I feel blessed that I could work with such experienced directors and actors at a very young age. It has always kept me motivated to improve my craft. 

If you had to choose between films or theatre, which one would it be and why?

This is a tough one. But I would say theatre. I love the adrenaline rush when the 3rd bell rings. The reaction of the audience is instant. You get so much energy. Overall the process of setting a play has always fascinated me. You can explore so many things. I did a play Mirad- A Boy From Bosnia, in which I had to play 11 characters. We started rehearsing 2-3 months before we performed for an audience. We worked on every character minutely. How a character would walk, talk, sit, etc. And when I finally performed on stage the feeling of satisfaction was just great. 

Who’s the one director you want to work with and why? 

There are so many I look up to, who really inspire me. To pick one of them, I would say Christopher Nolan. I am really in awe of his storytelling. All of his films are unique in their own way. He is so passionate about his work that I remember in an interview, he had mentioned that many producers had rejected his debut film Following, so he paid from his salary and made the film anyway. It took him a year to complete it. But he never gave up. 

Which actor (male or female) would you consider as your ultimate inspiration?

Daniel Day-Lewis. He is a legend. The detail he brings to each character he plays is amazing. He manages to reach the depth of the character flawlessly. In the film Gangs of New York, it was his idea to have an eagle in the eye. He is truly an ultimate inspiration. 

If your life were to be made into a web series/biopic, what would it be called?

I feel I have to work a lot, learn a lot, explore a lot and achieve a lot. After that people can decide whether my life could be an inspiration for others to be made into a biopic. But for fun, let’s say ‘Saksham- The Capable.’

What are the top three things on your bucket list? 

  • Direct a film
  • Do a film in any language other than Hindi and Marathi
  • Learn to dance properly😂😂

What’s that one piece of advice you would like to give to people who are looking to get into acting professionally? 

Glamour is just the tip of the iceberg. A lot of hard work needs to be put in. It’s not as easy as it looks. 

Where can people get in touch with you?

I am not that social a person, but you can get in touch with me on Instagram.