Meet the Nomadic Writer & Photographer Who Is Changing Lives in the Sleepy Uttarakhand Village of Kausani

Interview by Nisha Dhawan

Hi Sumit! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us. Could you please introduce yourself to the readers of Indspire me?

Hello all wonderful readers of Indspire Me. I am Sumit Arora. I am a nomadic traveller, writer and photographer. I began my journey as a solo traveller when I was 13 and I haven’t stopped since. The journey started off as a regular traveller, who just left everything when he felt his bond with nature and wildlife. I started off traveling and writing for my inner self. This journey has taught me live with a purpose, and help in conserving something that provides life to us all.

 

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Q2. What’s ‘JustAnotherEye’ all about? And what’s the thought process behind the name?

“If it’s the Nature that lets us breathe then it’s for the nature we shall breathe.”

JustAnotherEye is about the bond we all share with the nature and the wildlife. That bond, which is one the verge of disappearing into the smoke coming out of the massive forest fires, or the cries of fading wilderness.

JustAnotherEye is a story that begins and ends in its own perception. It started the first time I left everything and just ran away into the mountains. After being lost in the unknown for days, all I had was my own presence of mind flowing with the mountain breeze. Just like the way people believe in God, I believe in nature’s power and its patience.

I chose to work as a travel writer & photographer because that’s the way through which I can make people see and feel how beautiful it is to bind ourselves with Nature and Wildlife. We all have seen and felt both the beautiful and the disastrous side of nature. And in the end, all this comes down to what we’d choose to do after we see nature’s losing its patience. After seeing the life and death, both caused by nature. What have we done to something that is giving us just another breath to feel alive?

Are humans superior because they can speak and earn money? What about the wildlife that has no words? Are we not worse than the animals who at least respect nature?

See, there’s no thought process behind the name JustAnotherEye. It’s about that time when I started traveling and it’s one of the beautiful memories I have when I was lost deep inside the woods. Believe me, those days in that forest made me what I am today and the moment I found my way back, I still remember myself looking back while the nature breeze came and whispered these words inside of me,

“If it is the Nature that lets us all breathe then it’s for the Nature we shall breathe.”

I was a few weeks later I still remember myself writing about those memories. The first words that I wrote were, JustAnotherEye.

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Q3. How did you end up staying in Kausani, Uttarakhand, for the past six months?

As a nomadic traveller, I have always been on the lookout to discover places where my inner self can feel the rawness. I came across Johannah in Delhi, another solo traveller. She introduced me to the undiscovered side of Uttarakhand. A week later, we left for Jageshwar and after that we left for Binsar and Kasar Devi, and a few neighboring villages. 17th May, 2017 was the first time we reached Kausani. At that very moment we began exploring this mystical land of the Himalayas.

It couldn’t have been more challenging when the rain follows your footsteps. We heard that the entire Himalayan range of 352kms is visible from Kausani and its neighbouring villages. The moment I located the mighty Mt. Trishul on the map, some mysterious vibes started to flow through me. But then, we were instructed to head back to Himachal Pradesh for some work.

It had been almost 10 days and I was still looking at the photographs of Mt. Trishul. I had to hear the calling and what happened next was that I was booking bus tickets to Kausani.

The moment we reached Kausani, I saw Mt. Trishul peeping through the clouds while the entire Himalayan range was covered with dense clouds. I was looking at the Mt. Trishul through the viewfinder of my camera. But I could not capture even one shot. Something was stopping me from taking that shot and I believe it was the beauty that lies in the mysteries of our Mother Nature.

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I don’t know where I’ll be tomorrow but if I am blessed with another breath, then I see my inner self being all lightened up with the first ray of light on the mighty Mt. Trishul. It’s not just a mountain for me. Honestly, that’s what made me stay here for the past 6 Months.

 Q4. How has your experience staying in Kausani been like? Please share the positive and the negative aspect.

Kausani is going to be cold for the coming few months though it’s not as cold as it used to be a few years ago. But at times it might freeze your will of going out of the house. I wanted to stay here because I wanted to write and take photographs of all the seasons and the mysteries they hold. Now things have changed; because the rawness I felt here made me stay until that bond reaches me roots. There are a few things you’d require if you plan to stay here as the deeper you go into the villages, you’ll feel that you’re back to 1950s. You’ll see that there is no mobile network in some of the places, people are still cooking without gas or LPG, most of the people living in those villages do not have proper washrooms & they still go into the woods for their nature calls.

You’ll feel that these people might not have the luxuries of life but they’ll go out of their way to help you and they are wise. Most of them don’t really need any luxuries to survive but we feel that if they have little bit of support they’ll shine brighter.

For saving money you can rent a small place here and cook on your own. Life in these villages is very simple and there’s really not much to do which leads us to spending time inside; and developing the bond that our inner self and this nature breeze shares.

Q5. Tell us about the people and the community of Kausani?

It is the love, care and the welcoming nature of the locals that made us stay here irrespective of the odds. We were welcomed by the locals as they would welcome all the tourists who respect them and their way of life. But slowly as we spent time here, and travelled to various neighbouring villages, it felt more and more like home.

The elders were so keen to know about our experiences with nature and the work that we do. However, despite being open minded, the people of Kausani or any other village in Uttarakhand, are attached to their roots. They follow the same traditions, the customs and values that have been passed on to them since generations. They accept necessity of modernization and technology while they protect the forests and the lands. The locals here grow their food with organic methods.

The community comes together when anyone is in need and is always ready to help. It is customary for villagers to take part in local feasts, be it for the birth of a child, a wedding or any festival. For that some of the villagers have to travel long distances. There are people here who still walk for at least 40 kms a day for their survival. Living here in Kausani and the neighbouring villages is like traveling back to the 50s.Their peaceful serenity is filled with the simplicity and the magic of Flora and Fauna.

Q6. What do you need to make ‘JustAnotherEye’ a success?

You could talk about resources, contributions or anything else. Honestly, it’s not all about making JustAnotherEye a success.  Nature and wildlife must be respected because it is due to our greed that they’ve been suffering for ages now and before they disappear in our greed, we must learn and feel how important it is to conserve them.

I think it’s the thoughts and the values of JustAnotherEye due to which it is already a success. We are teaching the children of Kausani English, which will grow the seed of creative education and give them an advantage in this competitive world.

We need volunteers from all walks of life, to share their knowledge and expertise with us and the people of Kausani.

We also need books, toys (for sports) and plants (to help teach the children the value of afforestation). We need people who can educate women about health, hygiene and birth control. We are initiating a program for women, where they can earn while at home. We are coming out with a new range of clothing made with complete organic material. The profits of the sale would directly be transferred to the women making these garments for us. The motive at the end of all this is – conservation, protecting our land and giving back to Mother Earth.

Q7. How can people connect with you or reach out to you?

They can connect with us via e-mail at justanothereye.sumit@gmail.com. They can like us on Facebook, Instagram and our blog.

Q8. Please share a message with the readers of Indspire Me!

Thank you to the readers of the Indspire Me for taking out your time and for reading the thoughts and the visions of JustAnotherEye.

If you feel that the seed of conservation we’ve planted is worth protecting, then travel as far as you can and gain new experiences keeping in mind the respect we all should have for the nature and wildlife. Be helpful for your community. Learn about how we can recycle. Do your part and save the water, the mountains, the trees and the Wilderness. Try to plant at least one tree every month and keep educating yourself about various aspects of conversation. Make a difference!


ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER

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Nisha Dhawan is a fashion and English literature student. Her interests lie in fashion , fitness , travel and photography. She is an animal lover who wishes to do something big for the homeless animals in the near future and also has a pet dog named Tyson.

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