Lockdown is the time when everyone’s tempers are flying high, just like a Bigg Boss season. And, in such times, it is great to have someone like Suman Doogar by your side. She is like the calm wave of water flowing amongst the ferocious and loud waves in a sea. Her soothing voice and understanding of a psychologist’s mind at work knows how to handle the most difficult situation. She is everyone’s friend and confidante to many.
Over the years, she had turned her passion for travel into a responsibility towards society by promoting Responsible tourism. And when the pandemic hit the world and we couldn’t travel, she used her professional expertise of psychology to help people stride through tough times by sharing inspiring blogs, webinars and also sharing beautiful food photos and recipes to keep people busy during lockdown.
I had first met Suman at a bloggers’ meet and we spoke sparingly, but she left an impact on me. She is a person of few but meaningful words. Since then we have kept in touch and have travelled too together. She is a great planner. Her research on places and understanding of geographies and people is amazing . But what left an impact on me was the fact she followed and inspired people to travel responsibly without saying anything but through her actions. And that is something she is not able to do in lockdown but aspires to get back too soon. If you do not believe me, read the full interview yourself and know Suman Doogar’s passion for travel better.
What is your professional/ educational background?
I have done my Post Graduation in Counselling Psychology. After working as a counsellor for a few months, I switched to teaching. I teach Psychology in a private school in Delhi and has been working there for the past 10 years now.
How do you define profession and passion?
For me profession sustains and provides for one’s family whereas passion is something one is deeply interested in. Following one’s passion is fulfilling and gives happiness. I am fortunate to have found a balance between my profession and passion. I enjoy teaching and travelling, and I will never leave one for the other.
Tell a bit about your passion and how it grew over time?
My love for travelling started only after I got myself a job, with financial independence came the urge to explore. Over the past decade, I have covered 27 states of India and have traversed through the interiors of the country. With each new trip, my love for exploring grew stronger and stronger. Initially, it was always the mountains but gradually I saw the beauty of India through its tribes, festivals, culture, food, and people.
Being a teacher, gives me enough time to plan my trips and manage a healthy work travel balance.
What’s your passion project all about – when did you start, why did you start it, problems faced?
My passion project is Nomadic Shoes. In 2014, it started off as a travel company wherein I used to organise treks to Himachal Pradesh. I did that for two years but eventually the excitement wearied off. I started off with the thought of sharing with people the unique experiences I have had and show them the natural beauty of the mountains away from city lights. But I realised that the people I was taking to all these offbeat places were not interested in it and just wanted to party. That really got on my nerves and money was not great either. I was making extra money as I had my regular job along with this but eventually, I felt it is not worth the effort after all. Also, being an introvert, it drained my energy to interact with so many people and be nice to them all the time.
I closed down the company in 2016 and turned it into a travel blog. Since then I write about my travel escapades on my website and share my knowledge with like-minded people who love experiential travel.
What has been the response to the project?
The response was amazing, with zero investment I made good profits. When I started, there were hardly any players in this industry who were organising such trips at low budget.
Even when I started with my travel blog, I have received positive feedback from travellers. I focus on offbeat destinations, architecture and cultural activities which makes my blog very informative.
How does it help society/community/environment?
My travel blog, Nomadic Shoes talks about responsible travel and promote experiences that support the local communities. You can find a lot of information on my blog related to homestays, artisans, eco-friendly experiences etc. Also, I always share the details of guides, homestay-owners and taxi drivers in my articles, so that people can directly connect with them. It is my way of helping the local communities to generate resources for themselves.
What aspect of your passion you enjoy the most?
When I started with Nomadic Shoes, it was well received and all the people who went on a trip with me had a wonderful time. Even today, I receive messages from people asking me to start with planning trips again.
On the blog front, my journey has been satisfying. I write for people who are passionate about travelling and it is good to see that they are getting relevant information from my blog. The best feeling is when unknown people connect with me asking to travel with me as they like my way of travelling and experiences that I share with my readers.
Were you busy with the passion project full time or shuttling between job and setting it up before lockdown?
I have always had a full-time job and Nomadic Shoes was part-time. Having a full-time job gave me a sense of stability whereas my passion gave me an opportunity to try out new things and a sense of freedom to pursue my dreams. During the lockdown, I am trying to write more for my blog. My aim is to write 52 posts in 2020 and I think I will able to achieve it.
How has lockdown affected the project?
Yes, it has affected in both positive and negative ways. I got more time on my hand to write about my experiences travelling in India, so I am catching up on places and topics that I didn’t get time previously to write down. On the other hand, I am unable to create new content because of travelling ban and restrictions. As of now, I am relying on my old content to sail me through these difficult times.
How do you plan to revive/ make changes to the project and take it forward?
I am from Psychology background, so I am also combining travel and the psychological impact it has on people. In the future, I think mental health will become a priority and along with it we need to start a conversation on travel too. On my blog, I already have topics like ‘Can travel replace therapy’, ‘How to manage your mental health during Quarantine’ and ‘How travelling affects your mental health’.
Is your project something that will become need of the hour in post-lockdown?
I feel so! After the lockdown is over and things are back to normal, people will gradually start travelling again. That time, they will need the write-ups with information regarding a particular place or would want to know about destinations where they can travel to post-lockdown.
Suman Doogar is confident that more and more people will be ravelling after the lockdown is over and she is contributing to society in her own way by survive through lockdown and prepare communication to help people travel responsibly post the lockdown.
Wishing Suman all the success in all her endeavours.