Having travelled to 40 different countries already, Instagrammer and YouTuber, Aakash Malhotra (‘Wander With Sky’) has got a crush on the world and is always on a pursuit to travel. A Himachali boy himself, Malhotra, along with his three friends, had travelled to his family villa in Palampur for a short trip when the nationwide travel ban and lockdown got announced. While the four obliged to stay put, they realised that their four-day vacation plan had now turned into a month-long task of living with each other for the first time. Hence, enters the idea of making a fun-filled ‘21 Vlogs In 21 Days’ series! We talked to the travel blogger to see how is it going for them! By Sushmita Srivastav
You, along with three friends, went for a short trip to Himachal and ended up being stuck together for almost a month amidst the nationwide lockdown.
Well, along with playing my travel blogger role, I am also an entrepreneur and own a digital consulting and advertising firm called Digato Pvt Ltd. So, once most of the offices got shut, most of my clients asked me to slow the work down and I, too, asked my team to function from home. On March 17, my friend Aparajita and I were talking about visiting my family villa in Palampur for the weekend. The plan got finalised overnight and soon, the two of us, along with Anamika (Aparajita’s sister) and Sanya (my other good friend) left. The Himachal Pradesh government then shut borders for all outsiders on March 21, and considering the conditions and the fact that being a native, I had the permission, we all decided to stay back. Soon after, the nationwide lockdown was announced and eventually, our four-day weekend trip turned into a 28-day-long house arrest inclusive of the 21-day lockdown period.
What was the exact idea behind the ’21 Vlogs In 21 Days’ series?
Before the complete lockdown happened, I noticed that we all were in kind of a ‘can’t live together’ situation. Once it was clear we were stuck together for a month now, I started contemplating on how to create a mutual connect around us and make few videos around it. It was my idea of coping up with the quarantine. I had been wanting to start vlogging more frequently so, this seemed like the perfect timing to finally quit putting it off. So, I challenged myself for creating 21 vlogs in 21 days. And let me tell you, I usually take a lot of time to edit my videos, so this was super ambitious for me. But after the first three-four vlogs, I got the hang of it and I am not planning to stop until the lockdown gets lifted!
Your series aims at inspiring people to stay positive and having fun being at home. How much fun are you guys actually having while filming everything together every day?
So, the four of us have completely different personalities. While I am ‘the bully’, Aparajita is the trouble-maker, Sanya is our sophisticated soul and Anamika is the quiet one. The basic idea is to showcase how four friends with different personalities try to live under one roof. And whatever you see, is real as the girls do not get to see any footage before the vlog goes live. We just live our daily lives, while I try shooting whatever I can. But one thing is for sure — there’s never a dull moment. I am also trying to share information and updates, raise as much awareness about the COVID-19 outbreak as I can through these videos.
What challenges are you all facing right now? How’s the on-ground situation there like?
The state government here has taken the job very seriously. All the rules of lockdown have been well-implemented. Though the active cases are relatively low, all of us have been advised to take complete precautions during this pandemic and the people here are abiding by it. Also, the supply of electricity and water, and access to the internet is still great.
What safety measures and precautions have been taken by the government?
No cars are allowed on the roads and we have to go on foot to get the ration. In Palampur, the market is opened only for three hours (from 8 am to 11 am) which is again a great way to minimise public gatherings. Till date, the basic ration is available on all stores so that’s another great thing. You can see police everywhere controlling and managing the situation well.
Where would you travel to after this scenario clears up, and what would motivate you to go there?
As soon as the outbreak dies, I am first going to trek the Dhauladhar Ranges to which I wake up everyday! It’s growing on me from day one. Later, I plan to resume my international travels, starting with the Philippines.
What, other than travelling, is the one thing that you are missing doing the most right now?
I am badly missing my baby dog, Nawab. He is with my parents in Gurgaon currently. Other than him, I am also missing hitting the gym for weight training and going on trekking trails.
One travel lesson you learnt from this trip that you’d always remember?
Finding opportunities in the darkest and the weakest times, and turning them into your strength.