Sitting in an AC office, her eyes glued to the laptop, Aishwarya Phadke let her mind wander beyond the walls. Even before she started working at this corporate office in Pune, Aishwarya knew that the job was not permanent. It was another experience she craved, the adventure her soul sought for—travelling.
The Pune girl had grown up camping and trekking with her friends. Vacations inevitably meant packing bags and exploring a new place. And this did not change even when she became a law student. In fact, her passion for the outdoors amplified during her college years.
Aishwarya pursued her Bachelors in Law, Masters in the German language and even did a corporate job for one and a half years. But at the core of it all was a passionate traveller who loved visiting villages and wanted to show fellow city-dwellers the rustic and quaint life.
“In fact, the only reason I had taken up the corporate job was to keep me going in the travel organisation that I aimed at starting. My vision was this- when I would face challenges in my endeavour, I did not want to regret not having a “safe” job. So, I lived the corporate life for about 18 months before I happily quit,” Aishwarya told The Better India (TBI).
It was quite a long route to being a travel entrepreneur but each of the experience gave her insights about the field of travelling.
“What I had realised, time and again, was the fact that some organisations focus solely on an adventure, others only on camping and most usually leave out the crucial ‘living the authentic rural life’. And I wanted people to experience just that – the true village life in India,” the 29-year-old explains.
In January 2018, she left her job and in the same month, started Travel Dirty, an organisation that takes city folk to the villages so they get better acquainted with their roots. India lives in villages, Mahatma Gandhi had said, and Aishwarya wants to take this new and modern India back home.
Travellers with Travel Dirty get actively involved in the chores of the families that they are staying with. If it is the sowing season, you will get in the paddy fields along with the farmers and work. Knee-deep in mud and water, the city life will look like a distant dream. The walk from the fields to your room too will be quite different from the walk you have in the city. This commute isn’t about brisk walking to lose calories. No sir. This is about letting the trees bless you with an abundance of fresh air and wake up to the sweet songs of the birds. It’s about losing and finding yourself in nature.
Ever wonder what a farmer eats to say fit? Well, here’s your chance. Not just to share his food but cook it too. Travellers lend a hand in cooking the aamti (Maharashtrian dal) the rotis, rice and dry vegetables.
The one-night trips will help you experience the village life in the truest sense.
“Travel Dirty is also about bringing two voices together. The urban person who has spent their life in AC and aren’t in touch with their roots interacts with a villager who has never seen life through urban perspective. From the food you cook to collecting firewood from the forests, you participate in every activity, get your hands and feet dirty,” shares Aishwarya.
So far, Aishwarya has led about 15 trips around Pune. In every trip, she observes a very similar pattern. The city folk are in awe of the simple rural life who try to understand more and more about the villagers. The villagers too take a keen interest in getting to know their guests. Some travellers even conduct sessions like origami, and forest reading, all the while building new friendships.
In just about 19 months, Aishwarya has helped dozens of people leave their city life behind for a short while and find solace in the villages. You too can join her in travelling dirty. Simply click on this link to get the details of your accommodation, travel and expenses. Quick! The seats are filling up!
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)