Hello! I am Shubham Mansingka. I spend most of my time on the road, and make full use of my life after a battle with asthma. I hope my experiences excite you to see more of this world. I travel with a backpack and want to inspire you to do the same; let no hindrance be too big when you think about travel.
I was born in a bustling town in Rajasthan and topped my way across schools to study from Symbiosis, Pune. I lived in Bombay for three years while completing a major in Economics and Finance. My parents were avid travellers (consider a traditional marwari household) and nothing made my mom happier than being on a carefree road-trip in the Himalayas. I worked and partied for some months in Bombay learning discipline and the ways of the world in local trains. My friends had already started telling me on various weekend trips that I was meant to be a wanderer.
After my education, I went back home to the family business. In seven years that I worked there, our factories in a small village did fabulously well and the turnover quadrupled from seven crores to almost twenty-eight crores. The industries were awash with dust and I began having allergic troubles within a year of starting work. The doctors duly announced I had chronic asthma and that it wasn’t going away. Experiential and luxurious vacations happened while with my family.
In the meanwhile, I had my first solo trip to Ladakh within a year of joining my family business. It made me realise that I didn’t care for worldly materialistic possessions. Maybe it was the effect of my mom’s genes. I was enchanted by the simplicity and kindness of the mountain people. Next year, I randomly arrived in Chandigarh and unknowingly made my way around Kinnaur and Spiti for a month, happy to fill my lungs with clean mountain air. It was in Spiti that it dawned upon me that I could live a life happily like this forever.
I kept going on small vacations to fulfil my wanderlust and along the way I noticed that listening to people’s stories and experiences fascinated me. I was hooked to the myriad cultural and historical pleasures India had to offer. A Nikon dslr was bought on a whim in Singapore and I started experimenting with photography.
Back in the factories powerful chronic medication was prescribed and I had two brain scans due to asthma attacks in that torrid period. My asthma got unbearable by the seventh year. One fine day, I was shocked to google and find out that ‘medicines meant for fatal patients’ were the latest in my list of prescriptions.
I had never felt weaker in my entire life. I was 28 and was a slave to medicines every day, the side effects of which had caused havoc. My days passed in a trance due to the headlessness and breathlessness caused by asthma. I told myself, there are better ways of dying.
Then I took a decision that changed my life. On 8th January, 2014 in a conservative Indian household, without telling anyone and armed with some sixteen thousand rupees I boarded a train to Delhi. I spent fifty-five days in total in that meagre amount first recuperating in Rishikesh and then in the snowy Himalaya. I knew I would survive. I called my parents and told them I wasn’t coming home.
I haven’t gone home since. The mountains are the closest place that my mind thinks of when the word home comes to mind. I have slow travelled my way across more than fifteen states in India and endeavour to explore more of this wonderful country and the world in the years to come.
How I travel
I travel solo on a strict budget and walk a lot. I like to stay in homestays that are located in the midst of nature enabling me to sample local cuisine and know more about the customs. I have never used an auto or a taxi in the last two years of my travels and try to use as much local help as possible. I trust my instinct and prefer to hitchhike above using any other means of transport. I like to call it ‘The goodness of strangers.’ Fixed itineraries don’t appeal to me and I normally don’t plan my journeys. I travel responsibly and do not drink bottled water and carry all the disposable waste with me on my travels to be dumped into a dustbin later.
In the year gone by, I began with a grand winter trip to Ladakh and barely escaped alive slow travelling in Garhwal in February when I had a morbid experience. I mustered enough courage to venture solo again in April when I traipsed around Kumaon for over two months. I experienced the bountiful monsoons of Goa and parts of Karnataka in July. Himachal Pradesh (my favourite state!) was the state of my temporary residence for three months while I explored and worked from various places. I currently live in Jaipur, Rajasthan.
Come, travel with me!