As a child, Neeraj had only two interests. To go to school, and ogle at the cute little thing who sat two rows away from him. And to get back home, and bat till the sun went down.
As boyhood changed to youth, and youth transformed to manhood, his batting average dropped alarmingly. He now moved better on the dance floor, than on the batting crease.
Over the last three odd years, he became fascinated with the world of travel.
In the July of 2013, he gave up his job to set forth on a solo trip to Europe. In Spain, he ran with the bulls in Pamplona and mingled with the gypsies in the caves of Granada. In Italy, he flitted and flirted in museums and vineyards. And in a particular forest in Croatia, he lay in ‘pin drop’ silence under his sleeping bag as a bear lurked about outside trying to figure out the tent’s zips. Dinner plans had to change for the poor bear though as the zips held on stubbornly.
When he returned to his home land, he went up the Himalayas in Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan, and found a new found love for the mountains. He now plans to climb up as many as possible, in the coming few years.
The adventurist in him wants to become a teetotaller. The writer feels it is romantic, the image of a bottle on the writing table. The dancer does not care either way.
When he is not on the road, he is usually reading about some place, or the exploits of other outdoors lovers.
It was in these initial months of wandering that he also developed a lack of affection for a corporate life. But one needs money to fund his travels, to buy cricket match tickets, and to supposedly stay happy. So, after a year of pure abandon, in June 2014 he started his own group trips and now every month he takes people to the places he has loved seeing.
Bhutan, Ladakh, Sikkim and Meghalaya have seen this man, in his bandana, come with his troops, I mean groups, enough times now and so have Vietnam, Cambodia, Bali, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Turkey.They have been known to squeal with joy in waterfalls, sit around bonfires, hands out of buses and feel the wind in their hair, and cut birthday cakes in the middle of nowhere. The groups have usually eighteen to twenty people. Mostly are in the ripe of their youth, 24-35 years old and in this filtered age group, in the personal connections, in the conversations besides streams and hotel rooms and mountains, lie the USP of the trips.
Every year, we shall but touch a new continent.
As of today 11 March, he's closing on to two years of leading group trips. Meanwhile, solo travel being his first love, he would run away whenever he got the chance. And so one day he found himself up an active volcano in Indonesia. In Albania and Bosnia and Kosovo, a lot of people claimed that they had never seen an Indian before, so he clicked selfies with them.
As you must have figured out by this highly delightful piece you are reading, he is such a cool writer. If you aren’t impressed, that’s alright. There is a rumour floating that he is highly narcissistic and you are allowed to subscribe to it.
Travellers , ask him to plan your holiday. He will try to make you squeal with joy.
What to do. As his friends will testify, he has always been known to show off, and play to the galleries. Truth be told, he would still prefer batting till the sun went down.