Born and raised in the intriguing state of Uttar Pradesh for more than half of her life, meet Swati Saxena, Travel blogger at Lost in Maps. She was neither brought up in mountains nor lived by the sea but her love for travel stems from her passions. She grew up amidst history and her love for ancient architecture stems from her strong exposure to the history of her hometown. This was something she recently discovered, only when she started travelling alone.
She thanks her father’s transferable job, her education and work that has taken her places. She has resided in about ten cities by the time she turned 25. Swati feels there is still no permanent address to call home, but is glad to have a lot of temporary ones. “I have heard stories from friends about how each of them has at least one unforgettable street or staircase or neighbourhood or the familiar smell of belonging. I never had that. The nomadic way of life is the only one I’ve known.”
Let’s get to know more about Swati over a cup of Coffee with Stayzilla.
DESIGN CREDITS: ARAVIND AZHAGAPPA
Nomad | Blogger | Traveller at Lost in Maps
Former Accountant| Certified TEFL Instructor
Coffee Lover | Avid Reader | Paper Craft Addict
Contributions | Huffington Post | Travel Khana | Ask Me On Travel | The Women Team | She Goes Global
Mentions | Tripoto | Holidify
Coffee With Stayzilla: A Conversation With Swati Saxena
1. What is the story behind the Lost in Maps? What inspired you to be a Travel Writer?
It all began when a 12-hour shift desk job in accounting got too boring, to a point that it compelled me to try something totally unrelated. Earlier, I used to write once in a while, but I enjoyed doing it. Same goes for travelling and a few other hobbies like reading, drawing and paper crafts. So, I left the job for some me-time, to do more of what I like and not getting stuck in the get-up-go-to-office-and-come-back-and-sleep loop. Now that all the savings are gone, let’s see how far freelancing takes me.
Lost in Maps is just about a year old and it is still going through a lot of hit and trials. It’s where I share my personal travel experiences (sometimes non-travel too), alongside travel tips, photo stories, and recommendations.
2. D0 you have any irrational fears your travels have helped you overcome? How?
Yeah, absolutely! Wandering around in a new city on my own – for some reason, I didn’t think I could do that. Visiting a beach in Kerala at midnight with a group of guys I barely knew and coming back safe (even happy). Walking around the streets of a Konkani village, in search of food and being helped by a rickshaw driver to the extent even a friend may not have helped back at home; I used to believe these things only happen in a too-good-to-be-true fiction.
So yes, it was the fear of strangers, I guess. You know how we have been taught to stay away from them and how dangerous they can be, more so when you’re a ‘girl’? Ridiculous! It’s time we stop preaching to kids about the big bad world. Being careful is one thing, being afraid is another.
3. Did you experience any funny incident during your travels?
It’s not difficult to experience hilarious situations when you travel through the interiors of India. Many conversations can have you in splits. This happened in a state transport bus of Maharashtra – I got talking to a Burqa clad girl sitting beside me. I looked different to her for obvious reasons. No one else was carrying a big backpack, wasn’t reading a book and everyone other than me was talking in Marathi. (sic) A series of curious questions started and when I disclosed I’m here by myself, all the way from Delhi, she shouted out loud to the entire bus, “Dekho Dekho, ye ladki akele aayi hai, itni door se, yahan ghoomne.” (Look, look, this girl has come here alone, from so far, to travel). All the attention I was trying to avoid was suddenly right in my face. I was furious at that time, but now it sounds funny.
4. Which one would you choose and why?
Treehouse | Jungle House | Boat House | Hill top House | Beach House | Tent | Skyscraper
I’d choose Tree houses for now, because I haven’t even seen one, in real. Jungle house would be a close second – living in the woods, listening to the sounds of nature, waking up to the sun saying ‘hello’ from between the leaves. What better environment one needs for some writing inspiration!
5. What is your most memorable holiday stay experience other than a hotel or a resort?
I can’t even recall when I last stayed in a hotel or resort. So it’s tough to choose from all the lovely Homestays. I went to West Sikkim earlier this year and got to stay in one of those wooden huts with a local farmer’s family. It was a perfect experience for a person like me who holds a deep love for a simple and peaceful life. The mighty mountains, the red rhododendrons and the Buddhist prayer flags – my days were made of these. The hosts spoke Nepali and I only knew Hindi. So, we used to communicate in broken English. The days started at 5 AM and by 7 PM, the entire village had slept. The only room with its lights ‘ON’ was mine.
Swati’s Coffee With Stayzilla has been filled with intriguing stories. We are absolutely mesmerized by her stories and we are inspired by her life of a nomadic traveller.