Author Sunil Mishra’s book Transit Lounge is a contemporary book consisting of short incidents, observations and reflections while travelling to 30 countries across six different continents during the last 15 years. The book is a personal account of travels to places in Africa (Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and Mauritius), South America (Venezuela and Argentina), Asia (China, Iran, Kuwait, UAE, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand), Europe (UK, France, Italy, Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, Georgia, Turkey, Croatia and Romania), USA, Australia and New Zealand. It was interesting to observe all these different cultures and people from an Indian perspective. The book is a compilation of small incidents and events during such travels; it includes losing an air ticket, dealing with difficult custom officials or getting mugged in a prime location in a foreign country. Sunil is a software professional with over two decades of experience in the field of banking technology. Currently he is working with Infosys and has earlier worked with McKinsey, Accenture and I-flex solutions.
1. Is this your first published work? What inspired you to write?
Yes, this is my first book, something that has been in the making for the last five years. Writing is a learning process in itself I think. It happens as part of creative reflection on events and incidents around us. There is a joy in writing that I believe most authors are inspired by. I wanted to capture the learnings that I had from these travels.
2. How would you describe your journey from a travel blogger to a published author?
Almost 10 years apart. I started blogging about my travel sometime in 2007. I used to write personal notes of individual travels, anything that I would find interesting. As I started blogging about some of these travels, I received positive reviews from my friends and well-wishers. It is then that the idea of collating this and publishing it as a book occurred to me. When I started compiling as a book, I did not quite know the publishing process, but well, here I am.
3. Did you have to do any additional research for the book?
Transit Lounge is a contemporary book consisting of short incidents, observations and reflections while travelling to 30 countries across six different continents during the last 15 years. I have done some external research while writing, however they have been quite limited due to the nature of the book.
4. You have traveled far and wide, which are your top destinations?
From a traveler’s perspective, all my travels have given me great learnings. So, it’s difficult to call out favourites. I enjoyed visiting the less travelled to countries like Ghana, Nigeria, Iran, Georgia, Croatia and Venezuela, to name a few. If you look for specific purposes like working for a short duration – I found Singapore quite good. It is one of the most systematic, safe and well-organised city state.
5. What should a traveler always keep in mind while traveling within India? And abroad?
I think personal safety is the most important thing to keep in mind whether travelling in India or abroad. I have narrated one mugging incident in London which could be surprising to some. Though the city is safe in general, in pockets, incidents like these happen. I was deceived on one occasion while walking into a pub. It was scary as they took all my money and even noted my credit card number. I was relieved to come out unharmed on that occasion.
6. As someone who has traveled so much, what is the one thing most people seek advice on from you?
Which is the best place to settle in, and my response has always been – India. Though I have enjoyed travelling to different countries as Indian, I never felt like settling in some other country.
7. What’s the one experience that has had profound impact on you and that you will always remember?
It is difficult to call out any single incident as such, there have been so many. I think I not only learned about the respective cultures and people in different countries, I also understood our own country lot better. It was in a way discovering India while travelling abroad. When I met immigrant Indians I realised that they always had their umbilical cord intact – I could easily connect with folks who migrated long time back. Once an Indian always an Indian and things like cricket, Bollywood never goes away. The other learning that I had was the core values of people in different countries were more or less the same, what we hear from media is not the true picture always. For example I recall my trip to Tehran as one the most memorable and enjoyable one.
8. When traveling to a new country, what is the one thing you look forward to experiencing the most? Food or People or History or Architecture or Something else?
People, I think. It was interesting to observe all these different cultures and people from an Indian’s perspective. The book is a compilation of small incidents and events during such travels. It also covers the socio-economic and political aspects in bits. Personally, I am not too adventurous when it comes to food, I have been pretty hooked to Indian food and carried MTR packets most of the times.
9. Anything on your bucket list with regards to travel destinations that is yet to be ticked off?
Most of my travels have been on business and I consider myself very lucky in that regard. Talking of ambition, I may want to visit more of Latin America. Africa has been equally exciting in hindsight. My seven-month stay in Ghana was probably one of the most memorable one.
10. What would your advice be to a person looking to publish a travelogue/travel guide for the first time?
For the first time writer, getting over the initial hesitation is the most important thing. My learning has been that write like no one will ever read and edit like everyone is going to read. Don’t edit when you are writing first few pages, just write and write regularly.