Letter No 113 - Unleash your wanderlust

Dear friend,

When I was 20 and I was in my second year of engineering college, my father made me a proposition. He said - "take 1 month off from college and travel around India. Indian Railways has circular tickets - starting from one place, taking you to 15 - 20 towns - and then back to the starting point. Take one of them, and just travel. I will fund your trip fully."

I never did it. I didn't have the courage.
But I should have. There was nothing to lose. Missing one month of college is no big deal - and my father was backing me up on it!

My father has always been clear - travel teaches you life like no school or college can. This was his travel plan for me:
He said that in every town I land up in, I should
  1. Try and find a local home to stay in or a dharam shala
  2. Meet the local doctor, the local politician and the local principal, these three people usually know everything that is going on
  3. Find out what businesses and agriculture are thriving in the area

I didn't take up that trip. But I have travelled a fair bit. I have travelled on 2nd and 3rd class trains without reservation, I have made a trip from Chennai to Coimbatore on state buses searching for vendors of sugarcane crushing machines, I have gone into interiors of Gurajat and UP searching for glass and ceramic suppliers, I have been into forests with local tribespeople.

I believe travelling has given me:
  1. A survival instinct
  2. Confidence in being able to befriend all kinds of people
  3. A better understanding of how the economy works at the grassroots level
  4. A sense of the real culture and ethos of India
  5. A huge sense of optimism about the power and potential of India.

Look, as of 2023 only 35% of India lives in cities. 65% of our country lives in Rural India. That is where the future growth of our economy is going to come from. Corporate India knows that and is investing in building understanding and channels into the rural economy.

Young professionals and entrepreneurs who are ambitious should take some time off and travel. Take the time to explore - yourself, the country and the people.


In 1974 Steve Jobs visited India in search of 'spiritual enlightenment'. He was just 19 years old then and he spent almost 7 months living in India. At that age, most of us are running helter-skelter trying to figure out which college / which degree!

But Steve was searching for enlightenment and to explore Eastern philosophies. He was travelling with a friend who later became an early Apple team member. Steve somehow knew that this travel, learning about himself and getting in touch with his spiritual side would help him in his future endeavours.

The trip was not without its challenges. Jobs faced several hardships, including a bout of dysentery and a near-mob thrashing after protesting the quality of buffalo milk. Despite these difficulties, Jobs reflected on his time in India as a turning point in his life, one that reshaped his understanding of himself and the world. He returned to the United States with a renewed sense of purpose and a cultural shock that was more intense than his initial arrival in India. This transformative experience underscored the importance of resilience, adaptability, and the value of experiencing life beyond one's comfort zone.

Steve Jobs' journey to India was more than just a quest for spiritual enlightenment; it was a formative experience that contributed to the development of his unique vision for Apple.

It instilled in him a deep appreciation for the power of intuition, simplicity in design, and the importance of looking beyond conventional wisdom to achieve truly innovative solutions.

Here's something interesting I found - even Mark Zuckerberg travelled in India. That too, on Steve's recommendation. When the Facebook founder struggled during the early days, he turned to one of his mentors, Steve Jobs, for advice. Jobs had one tip for him: Pack your bags for India!



Charles Darwin - At 22, fresh out of Cambridge University, Charles Darwin joined the crew of the HMS Beagle to survey the coast of South America. His observations during this voyage, especially in the Galápagos Islands, were instrumental in developing his theory of evolution by natural selection. This journey turned his mind into "a chaos of delight" and profoundly influenced his scientific thinking

Ernesto 'Che' Guevara - Before becoming a key figure in the Cuban Revolution, Guevara embarked on a motorcycle journey across South America in his youth, which deeply influenced his political beliefs.

Blake Mycoskie, inspired by his travels in Argentina, founded TOMS Shoes, pioneering the one-for-one business model.

Airbnb co-founders Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia travelled extensively, directly influencing the creation of their global hospitality exchange.

Sophia Amoruso, founder of Nasty Gal, credits her early hitchhiking adventures for fostering the independence and resilience needed for her entrepreneurial journey.

These are just some stories I found to inspire and validate what I am trying to say in this letter - travel is a great education and opening of the mind.

We need to go beyond textbooks and just regular college.

We need to be explorers and innovators.

We need to build grit and courage.

We need to step outside of our comfort zones.

We need to chill a bit and trust the universe.

We need to travel🙂


Ten Travel Suggestions for the tentative folks who want to travel, but are not ready to go for 7 months like Steve Jobs (people like me, who should have listened to my father when he told me but didn't, but would like to do travel in small doses!)

For you budding travellers and entrepreneurs, here's your nudge:
1. Take day hikes in your region.
2. Do weekend camping trips.
3. Check out historical city tours in your city.
4. Volunteer in a nearby community.
5. Attend a local festival.
6. Explore a national park close by.
7. Do Beach day-outs - but be out the full day.
8. How about a Museum marathon?
9. Food trails in neighbouring towns.
10. Or, join a local travel group.

Small steps. Big adventures!


Finally, here are five tips to get moving

If you are feeling inspired but stuck, here's how to kickstart:
1. Set a small, fun travel goal.
2. Start a dedicated travel fund.
3. Research and plan - excitement is in the details.
4. Have a ready-to-go travel kit.
5. Connect with travel communities.

Just like in entrepreneurship - Think big but start small!


Finally my friend, here is something from from me to you...

Travel, in its essence, is more than seeing new places. It's about new perspectives, learning, and growing. It doesn't have to be far or expensive. Start where you are, with what you have. The important thing is to start.

I've had my share of travels, each journey teaching me something new about the world and myself. And I'm hungry for much more. And I urge you, my friend, to give yourself the gift of travel. No matter how small the trip, it's a step toward a larger life.


P.S. Next week, I'll share some of the most unexpected things I've learned on my travels. Stay tuned!


Remember to mark this mail as a 'Known Sender' so that my letters don't go into your spam - that would pain me.


Travel not only broadens the mind; it shapes it. Start shaping yours today. 🌍✈️