Thamserku Trekking's assistant guide confesses that he doesn--t want to climb Mt Everest, unless he must
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OT: Your most memorable journey/music tour?
Biddu: It would have to be my hitchhiking trip through the Middle East (en route to England) in the mid-60s — back in the days when the region was nothing more than a paradise of sand. I had no money, yet in the four months that I spent walking through those parched lands, I didn’t spend more than a week sleeping by the roadside or under the awnings of shops. The locals were incredibly hospitable. They had never seen a dude in jeans, cowboy hat, boots and a guitar. I could have been from Mars for all they knew. But they were warm and open. Besides, when you’re young, you have no fear, no ‘baggage’ to hold you back.
OT: Any travel faux pas?
Biddu: I left India (for my backpacking trip) without a map of the Middle East!
OT: And ‘extraordinary’ experiences?
Biddu: There are several. But if I had to pick one, it would have to be the time I spent with a bunch of bandits in Iraq. I kept wondering why they were saying, “Band-Aid, Band-Aid”, until I realised — long after they were gone — that they were referring to themselves! I’ve chronicled it all in my autobiography Made In India (HarperCollins Publishers India).
OT: Spain is home for you now. What makes it special?
Biddu: Both the weather and the people remind me of India. The infrastructure, however, is akin to anywhere but India. I live in Marbella, which has 320 days of sunshine. Plus I live on the beach, so it’s pretty close to heaven.
OT: Your favourite destination in India?
Biddu: Goa. It has great food and an excellent vibe. I often recommend it to tourists as a soft landing before heading out to explore the rest of India. Also, I like Bombay. It has buzz and is pretty cosmopolitan. Okay, it’s dirty as hell but then you have to take the good with the bad.
OT: You grew up in Bangalore. Has the city changed remarkably?
Biddu: Just do the math — there were seven hundred thousand people compared to the eight million now! No wonder it’s even more chaotic than a beehive. There’s no planning, no infrastructure, no rules anymore. It’s at the mercy of politicians.
OT: One place you are still looking forward to visiting?
Biddu: Bali. I’m intrigued by the softer version of Hinduism they practise. And it’s cheaper than going on a holiday in India.
OT: Which is your favourite foodie pit stop?
Biddu: Goa is my favourite food destination, especially for Mediterranean and Pacific Rim fare.
OT: Five things you always carry with you?
Biddu: Money, mobile, biscuits for kids on the streets, an identity card and a picture of my wife, as my memory isn’t what it used to be.
OT: Which city is your next book (a novel) set in?
Biddu: Darjeeling and Calcutta. It’s a whirl of romance, bigotry, murder, mysticism and adventure.
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