The mountaineer and Himalayan explorer discusses his career and his new book
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OT: What does travel mean to you?
Rahul Khanna: Travel opens the mind and feeds the soul.
OT: What are your favourite holiday destinations?
Rahul Khanna: I am happiest where I am surrounded by natural beauty, peace and quiet. I love outdoor activities like hiking and swimming and a beautiful beach is my idea of heaven. I’m more than happy to spend a vacation without TVs and technology and with just a good book.
OT: Any travel memory that stands out…
Rahul Khanna: Watching nests of baby turtles hatch and make their way into the sea on a full moon night on the beaches of North Goa. With indiscriminate and irresponsible development in India, this phenomenon is becoming rarer. I wish we would be more protective of the environment and preserve beautiful natural areas and the important ecosystems they support.
OT: Any packing tips?
Rahul Khanna: Japanese packing cubes are indispensable for a more organised suitcase. I pack an extra folding duffle bag in my luggage in case I decide to bring home any shopping or souvenirs and a ziplock plastic bag to pack a wet swimsuit from any last minute swims. Spectacle cases or airline amenity kits make great carriers for cables and chargers. I subscribe to Sartre’s opinion that, “Hell is other people” and I always carry ear plugs, sunglasses and headphones to shield myself from loud, self-important cellphone talkers in airline lounges.
OT: What destinations remain on your bucket list?
Rahul Khanna: Strangely, I’ve never been to Paris yet and I hope to change that, sooner than later. Japan is also on the top of my list. Plus, I have my eye on a few remote luxury retreats that shall remain nameless, lest they get discovered and over-publicised before I get to them!
OT: An aspect of travel that you wish you could change?
Rahul Khanna: I’ve recently been the victim of a major airline’s negligence and the resulting loss of my luggage. I was appalled to learn how casually they treat such incidents—even if one is a frequent flyer. I wish there would be more accountability and transparency and a greater commitment to the responsibility of safe carriage of passengers and their possessions.
OT: How was your recent visit to the home of Glenfiddich? What were the highlights?
Rahul Khanna: Dufftown, Scotland is stunningly beautiful and I was lucky enough to be taken through every aspect of the Glenfiddich tradition, learning how the world’s most-awarded whiskies are created by maverick craftsmen. By the banks of River Fiddich, I was told stories of founder William Grant and his dream to make the ‘best dram in the valley’. I also had a great time with Glenfiddich’s award-winning head chef, Addy Daggart.
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