I’m Satyaki. I’m a mechanical engineer by profession and a traveler at heart. If wishes were horses, by now I would have owned a tiny cafe with an organic kitchen in some obscure mountain village. While we are at it, let’s throw in a cozy studio cum library in the mix!
I love to travel. To new places. And to old ones. There have been trips of which I had great expectations, and they have been let downs. Then there are places I connect with deeply, and have visited many times over. I’m often asked “Why go a second time?” Well, there are no simple answers. Some places grow on us, seep into our thoughts. They force us to disconnect, observe and absorb. Vanishing tribes, all three!
I usually travel alone. It helps me set my own pace, and change plans at will while on the road. In fact, some of my most precious memories are from unplanned episodes. Train travel fascinates me (the slower, the better). As do mountains. And cities with a colonial past. I have often wondered how these seemingly unconnected subjects have turned out to be my sources of travel inspiration. On hindsight, I realise seeds were sown during my formative years. I grew up in suburban Calcutta, in times when reading was en vogue. I’m fortunate to have a vernacular rich in legacy, even in the children’s literature genre. I was always fascinated by adventure tales, and with time, travelogues. The choices I’ve made with regards to travel have a lot to with some of the books I’ve read. Orwells “Burmese Days” was the reason I visited Myanmar. My fascination for South East Asia can be attributed to “A Fortune Teller Told Me” by Terzani. My love for the Himalayas can be traced back to a Bengali travelogue by Prabodh Sanyal, and so on and so forth. My first trip to Vietnam had been in 2014, and I’ve been visiting the country every year since then. Like wise, spending a couple of weeks in the Himalayas has now become an annual affair. There are so many others to be honest. But in the end, it is not about the places themselves. It is about how they change you as a person. I’ve never believed in a curated form of travel and ticking off bucket lists. In these opinionated times where “building walls” is the “In” thing, travel does a wonderful job in dissolving prejudices. Realising we are more similar than different is one of the great joys of traveling to places and cultures alien to us.
My friends (generously, if I may add) call me a photographer. I would rather they call me a traveler who photographs. Photography has always been a subset of my travels, and not the other way round. I use my camera to document my experiences as honestly as possible. By trial, and of late, by habit, I try to be as unobtrusive as possible. When I photograph, I try being the least important person in the frame. It pays rich dividends in the form of real, candid photographs. I guess this approach is bearing fruit. For the last couple of years, my submissions have made their way to the finals of the Annual Photography Scholarship run by World Nomads. The photo stories can be found here and here.
Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts. It even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you. It should change you.It leaves marks on your memory, your consciousness, your heart, and your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.Anthony Bourdain