‘LEH LADAKH IS ONE OF THOSE TRIPS THAT I CAN­NOT STOP TALK­ING ABOUT’

HE­TAL KO­TAK, CEO, LEE COOPER

Impact - - CONTENTS -

TRAV­EL­LING FOR BET­TER CUS­TOMER IN­SIGHTS

Travel from a pro­fes­sional con­text helps you un­der­stand the cus­tomer bet­ter, es­pe­cially in a coun­try like In­dia that is not ho­moge­nous. Trav­el­ling is one of the best ways to get a clearer pic­ture of your mar­ket, the tar­get con­sumer and new, emerg­ing trends. I travel fre­quently for work, and my favourite work trips are in bustling mar­kets, where I can meet and in­ter­act with con­sumers. Be­ing a re­tail guy, there is no greater feel­ing than to see the store floor flooded with cus­tomers. While I love trav­el­ling for work, it is only on hol­i­day trips that you can re­ally dis­cover and learn new things about a place. My favourite thing about leisurely travel is that it is not bound by an itin­er­ary, leav­ing greater room for spon­tane­ity.

OF TRAVEL AND CA­MA­RADERIE

I reg­u­larly travel with my child­hood bud­dies, a group of 15 friends. We have this an­nual bik­ing hol­i­day that we do in a lo­ca­tion within or around In­dia, rid­ing through places like Ladakh, Guwa­hati and Nepal. We choose moun­tain­ous des­ti­na­tions that are usu­ally colder, be­cause we en­joy cold weather. Our trips usu­ally span ten days, and are a great oc­ca­sion for us to catch up and relive old mem­o­ries. My favourite travel ex­pe­ri­ence has got to be the trip to Leh and Ladakh that was the start­ing point of these an­nual trips, in the sum­mer of 2013. I don’t think I have seen any­thing more beau­ti­ful than Leh and Ladakh. These trips are dif­fer­ent from the usual va­ca­tions be­cause it’s much more than see­ing a new place. It’s about en­joy­ing time to­gether and bond­ing with each other while ex­plor­ing new ter­rain and rel­ish­ing new ex­pe­ri­ences. There is also a cer­tain lib­er­a­tion you feel rid­ing through these places be­cause you do not have to ma­noeu­vre around the kind of traf­fic you see in the cities. It’s the ideal place to get away from work, traf­fic, com­mutes and re­ally un­wind. The air is clean and re­fresh­ing, and what makes it even bet­ter is that I spend so much qual­ity time with close friends. Leh Ladakh is there­fore one of those trips that I can­not stop talk­ing about.

A MEM­O­RABLE JOUR­NEY

This trip was not with­out chal­lenges – there is the scarcity of oxy­gen at that alti­tude, so breath­ing and rid­ing the bike was quite dif­fi­cult. The roads are also dif­fi­cult to ride on, and the weather can be a bit un­pre­dictable. On sev­eral in­stances, we were caught in a sud­den spell of rain that left us drenched and cold. There were times when we’d find the roads flooded with wa­ter from the melted ice, some­one’s bike would break down or a tyre would need chang­ing. We re­alised the im­por­tance of fit­ness be­cause rid­ing a bike in such ter­rain is back-break­ing. There is no mo­bile sig­nal and no data net­work, so you can­not rely on Google Maps. We had to chart and plan our route well in ad­vance. For us, this hol­i­day was not so much about the desti­na­tion as it was about the jour­ney. Yes we strug­gled at times, but our en­tire hol­i­day was filled with ad­ven­ture and mem­o­ries to last a life­time. Peo­ple of­ten ask us why not take a car in­stead? But how can you pos­si­bly ex­pe­ri­ence the ma­jes­tic beauty of the moun­tain­side sit­ting in a closed ve­hi­cle? One would have to ex­pe­ri­ence that to know what this trip meant to us! This was the trip that started our an­nual tra­di­tion of tak­ing one bik­ing hol­i­day to­gether, and this year we hope to cover Arunachal

FOOD TALK

On our Leh Ladakh hol­i­day, the only food avail­able ev­ery­where was Maggi noo­dles, but that was some­thing we wel­comed at the end of a long day on the road. I am not much of a foodie hon­estly, but I en­joyed any­thing that was warm and com­fort­ing. The lo­cals would of­ten serve us a de­li­cious broth, like a clear soup with herbs and gar­lic that we en­joyed. They also have a spe­cial salty tea, which is very pop­u­lar. This trip of course was not so much about food, but we ex­pe­ri­enced great hospi­tal­ity from the lo­cals wher­ever we went. That was re­ally spe­cial. Travel should be more than just the desti­na­tion; it is im­por­tant to en­joy the jour­ney and savour every ex­pe­ri­ence. I also en­joy get­ting to know the lo­cal cul­ture and flavours of a new place.

HE­TAL KO­TAK CEO, Lee Cooper

On the Leh Ladakh bike trip Pradesh. I am re­ally look­ing for­ward to that.

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