“There is never a language barrier when you travel.”

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An entrepreneur, travel buff and foodie rolled into one, his friends have lovingly nicknamed him Foodieontrip!
Bhooshan Kanani in conversation with A.Radhakrishnan.

PCan you tell us a little about your work?

I am a Marketing Strategy Consultant, running my very own Marketing & Advertising Studio named Augmenting Times.
After a decade with top companies like Hyundai, Atlas Copco and Forbes Marshall, I finally decided to go solo, an enormous leap from being a client to a service provider. Being a Gujju, my love for marketing began thanks to our family business. Perhaps enjoying learning new methods and implementing new techniques helped me carve my new role.

How difficult it is to build a brand?

It’s a challenging role, as now I work with various industries, each with its own marketing algorithms. Implementing one rule for all will not yield the same results, though we can implement common strategies once we know what to tweak.
Opening of new vistas is fascinating and the good brands I am lucky to have with me are ready to experiment and try new strategies.

Who are your big clients?

We have been working and catering to many brands from various industries like food, travel, retail, manufacturing, medical, etc.
I would like to mention two clients who have had faith in me since my initial days. Daga Brothers, famous dry fruit brand in Pune and Kishor Pumps Pvt. Ltd.

What do you feel about the standard of marketing and brand communications in India?

Thanks to a huge audience, marketing here has great scope. Also with the boon of having enormous data and net connectivity, digital marketing has been an important factor in any marketing strategy.
We have the younger generation in marketing departments of top brands, who are social media savvy. Hence new strategies are easy to experiment. People are now using Instagram and TikTok as well.
But to be honest, there is tough competition also within marketing agencies and I think this benefits the client a lot.

How has Covid19 affected your business?

Everything has its pros and cons and it has been the same for us, having lost clients. Marketing in India has always been a cost-centric one and therefore the cost-cutting starts first.
But on the positive side, we have learned new alternatives and with sharing benefits of digitalisation, new opportunities and clients as well, have emerged.
My team, has readily adapted itself with the WORK FROM HOME culture.
Now every business wants to go digital and so we are raring to give the right solutions with social media marketing, website and App development and, online brochures. Offering competitive rates, we are focusing on volume and new clients right now.

What makes you a travel buff?

I have always loved travelling across various countries, learning new cultures, and getting a break from the daily routine.
My first trip at the age of 22, made me realise that spending on travel was worth more than buying fancy products or gadgets. I still prefer to own a normal mobile phone within a budget of Rs. 15,000 and use a regular bike. The spare money helps me explore one more new country.

Do you have to be rich to travel the world?

No! You just need to be a smart planner and eager to explore. I have been to Europe for a month across several countries and have spent just 1.5 lakhs over all inclusive of my travel, food, and stay.
I would recommend people buy airline tickets in advance, stay at hostels so you meet local travellers, do a one-time purchase of vegetables and grocery items and, cook in the hostel kitchen.
One more point – walk, walk, and walk. It’s a great experience, you see various places, shops, local houses and, meet people. All this saves not only a great amount but also keeps you healthy. After one of my trips, I had lost around seven kgs!

Souvenir magnets collected from their travel across the globe, adorn their refrigerator door

How many countries have you visited and in how many years?

From the age of 22 till now, the tally is 16 countries in a span of 10 years. My first international travel was to Thailand and the last was to Sri Lanka and Greece last year.

Do you prefer solo travel / with someone or a tour package?

I travel with my better half, Bhavika. She is a great companion and our travel goals match perfectly. She researches the places to explore and stay. I handle the planning and manage finance.
We go backpacking; so we share every task. We abhor tour packages. We use local transport and avoid taxis. We find places which are hidden gems and where we don’t have to contend with a rush. It gives you superb memories to cherish.

How do you prepare for these foreign trips?

Planning and research are very important. We reach out to common friends or friends who have travelled earlier and get their recommendations and suggestions.
We proceed with a five step process:
• Select country and shortlist the cities
• Check our budget and finalise the number of days
• Find hotels and airlines as per budget.
• Book local travel and tickets in advance
• Go for Visa in advance and be all set
We generally plan almost six months in advance to derive great benefits with early bookings. Our trips last a maximum of two weeks to a month. If you have everything planned well, you will save enough to stay for more days.

Is India a good travel destination compared to foreign lands?

Both have their own special place for me. In India, I have always enjoyed interacting with the locals. In foreign lands, the experience is different.
Eg: Switzerland and Leh in India are equally beautiful. Nevertheless, they can’t be compared.

What’s the most reliable, the best and the worst of travel advice, you’ve received?

We do a lot of research over Google, Tripadvisors and Blogs. We read reviews from foreign travellers because they are generally straight forward.
Also, it’s not that you have the best experience always. Sometimes you see something on Google but eventually, that place is not as per your liking.
To cite an example, museums are what many recommend, but over the years, I have understood that they are not for me. So I don’t spend money on them. I just go to museums with free entry and try to get a local touch.

Do you interact with locals at these places?

I generally prefer to stay at local hostels so that I meet a lot of people. Also, a second option is Couchsurfing or Airbnb, where locals offer their rooms for budget travellers. Interacting with those who come over weekends and getting to know each other’s cultures and daily lifestyle, is so much fun. They suggest places to visit or local cuisine to explore.

How do you document your trips?

I enjoy observing places and convert them to memories. I document special moments with my phone camera. But best of all, I love to collect fridge magnets and beer coasters from all these places.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned?

There is never a language barrier when you travel. People will help you even if you use sign language. Also, you can have Google Translate with the local language to help you.
Google Maps downloaded in advance will save net charges and help find easy ways to reach your destination. Stay away from voice calling and instead use the internet for a month.

Would you call yourself a traveller or a tourist?

Traveller for sure! I am okay staying at small places enjoying my time rather than going to tourist spots, wait in line, and just have a look for a minute or so.

How many gadgets do you normally carry? Do you use social media effectively?

I have my Quechua – 60 L bag which fits all for 2- 4 weeks weeks travel. Gadget wise, one good phone and power bank for an emergency, is sufficient.
I generally post very few pictures on social media when travelling, as I don’t like to show off.

Do you have a strict schedule or go with the flow?

Yes, you can say that I follow a schedule as I always plan my days; book my return tickets and do hotel bookings in advance; but day-wise activity can be shuffled as I generally stay for 3-4 days at least per city.
But of late, in case I enjoy someplace a lot, I go with the flow.
Apart from exploring popular places, we also scout hidden gems, for even a place of no tourist value, can be beautiful.
I like to rest and enjoy vacations at a slow pace and avoid covering maximum places.

Travel photos from the couple’s journeys

 

How do you pack a suitcase?

I always travel with my Quechua Backpack and one small side bag during local travelling. The backpack is divided into 3 sections for clothes and shoes, food and daily need items. The small bag is for documents and also for books, glares and water bottles.
Just travel light as much as possible and you can fill the bag with souvenirs and clothes while returning. I recall memories of Europe when I had only one-two pairs of jeans and 6 t-shirts for a one month trip. You can reuse and wash them if you begin to live locally.

How many foreign languages have you learnt so far?

None! I learn local greetings and phrases to use them for particular travel and then go ahead.

Do you plan to become a travel writer?

Yes! I want to be a travel blogger.

I believe you are a foodie too? Do you cook or only eat?

I eat and eat everything. Try to explore new things. But cooking is not for me. My wife is a wonderful cook and enjoys it and I am always there for all her experiments. I prefer to do cleaning, after cooking so you can say, that is my specialty.


A. Radhakrishnan

A. Radhakrishnan is a Pune based freelance writer, poet and short story writer.

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