Hi Guys, here is our interview section of this blog, Introducing Meenakshi Jey and Jey sushil from artologue.in. , Meenakshi is an artist who is interested in bringing the art from the Galleries to the homes and hearts of common people. Jey is a journalist by profession but recently discovered that he can write too. Jey writes only for two things-for myself and for money. Let’s hear about his nomad journey. Enjoy Reading.
How do you fund your travel?
Since we started traveling on our Royal enfield bikes named Hari-Bhari and Kesariya in 2013, we have been self-funding our travels. We try to travel cheap and slow.
Did your family/friends think you were crazy?
Yes, our families did think we were crazy. In fact being the rogues in our respective families, our parents had panic attacks. They tried to emotionally blackmail us to travel by four wheelers but instead we sold our car. This gave us the freedom from family pressure to travel by ‘safe’ vehicle instead of bike. We received loads of safety guidelines from family, friends and ‘valuable suggestions’ ‘to settle down and have baby instead of doing crazy dangerous stuff like this’.
What’s been your biggest challenge traveling together?
Traveling together with the purpose to see India by staying with people and painting in return of their hospitality was our original plan in 2013. But by the early 2014, when we were back from a month long travel from Mumbai to Chennai via Pune, Manglore, Hampi, Bangalore and Hosur, we started receiving invitations from all our Facebook audience to visit their place, stay with them. The painting on wall was of corse the unsaid interest of these hosts. The only problems is the time constrain because Jey is working and we have to plan our travels as per his leaves (unpaid as well as annual leaves).
Traveling together is the biggest boon we have. The duties are divided between both of us. Jey drives and Meenakshi paints and they both interact with people and listen to their stories. Meenakshi is not good with roads and Jey is a travel freak. Jey needed a purpose to travel and Meenakshi’s art gives him that colourful purpose. So, we wonder if either of us could have ever traveled with so much of fun without the other.
Best & Worst Place you been to?
Literally from Kashmir to Kanyakumari on bike, we have painted with jail prisoners, police officers, physically challenged, mentally challenged, tribal communities, prostitutes, students, start-up groups and child labours besides the elite and middle class families.
At most of the places we loved how people shared their interests and knowledge with us and how easily we gelled to become like a family. However perhaps our best memories are from Goa where we lived, roamed around on bullets and painted with an interesting couple. They had so much to share and we had so much to know from them that we were just to meet for a breakfast and we ended up spending 4 days with them. Another very interesting place was Pune. This family of an elderly couple were one of the those rare couples who lived their life on their terms and condition. Both former professors at Stanford University, were in their 70s and so lively that we in our 30s felt shy of our energy. And of course the Kashmir. Srinagar and Pahalgam in particular was the best places we had travelled on bike. The mesmerising views of valleys, mountains, fountains, the flash rain, the hilly rivers, the orchards, shikara rides, houseboats and the horse rides still bring smile on our faces.
The worst place we ever visited (and hope it was the last) was Jammu. It was hot, humid and suffocating. On top of that the family that had invited us would not let us go out of their home. They lectured us about the ‘necessity of having a baby at right time’ and made us eat 5 times a day. The family members hardly ever talked to each other and we had to entertain ourselves with the baby in the house. Finally on the 2nd night of our planned 4 day-stay, they declared that they had a family marriage to attend and we should leave by next morning. The heat had taken toll on Meenakshi and she had severely upset stomach and with high fever. Next morning we ate a banana, packed our water, tied ourselves together with a scarf to ensure that Meenakshi should not fall off due to weakness and fever. We left their home in mild rain, never to return and talk to them.
What’s the greatest thing about traveling as a couple?
We think the best thing about our travel is that we travel as a couple. We have our heart, head and family with us. We don’t feel homesick as we are together, we learn and grow together. Even in terms of our weaknesses and strengths we complete each other. Meenakshi is bad with road, Jey is awesome with directions. Meenakshi is cool headed, Jey can handle all tricky situations, Meenakshi is amazing with elderly people and Jey is fantastic with young children. And we both traveling, trying different cuisines, meeting interesting people, traveling on foot, learning arts and enjoying everything creative. We love each other and respect each others interest, so we never run out of each other’s company.
Your top tips for couples planning an extended trip together?
Couple travellers, travel slow and safe. It is best thing to keep your head and heart together. You got to respect each other’s interests, got to own your mistakes and yet try not to blame other one for problematic situations. Try to make complications look resolvable and always be ready to enjoy every second of life, happy or difficult, these moments spent together are your couple moments. Try to be other’s strength instead of pin pointing their mistakes. You both are equal partner of each other’s Karma. Love yourself but love your other half more than yourself.
Do you plan to keep traveling indefinitely or do you see yourself settling down somewhere before long?
We don’t travel indefinitely. Since we stay with the families and paint murals at their home, we plan and travel based on number of invitations. We chalk out a route based on location of our hosts and try to diversify our travels by including more local cultures with their guidance. It keep our travels and stints interesting and enriching. In fact we want to travel the whole world on our bike in near future. We have invitations from many countries and just trying to work on our finances. Settling down would be like a stint at one place for a couple of years and then move on..
What has travel taught you?
Humility. This is one thing that we have earned from our travels to different parts of India. Humility leads to respect and respect to love. This respect and love is as much for each other as for the people and culture of India, also for the animals and nature.
The travels have bolstered our faith in fate and Divine help. In all our travel to mountains, deserts, beaches, deserted land scape and forests, our Hari-Bhari and Kesariya have been our best companions. Never ever did they put us in a compromising situation. In fact, we often ignored their major damages considering minor for they never gave up on us. We are now very careful with them and love them back as much as they do to us.
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