January 15, 2021

Rashmi Gururaja Koppar on travel and motherhood

Rashmi Gururaja Koppar is a mum who has dared to be among the chosen few who are risk takers and have loved their adventure streaks in them. Know a story of a mum who is a travel enthusiast, a professor, has been part of the journey that encapsulated the world attention of travelling to 17 countries on road as part of Women Beyond Boundaries’ maiden journey.

Mums and stories is glad to be featuring this gutsy and fun spirited individual.

“Looking back at my life I do believe I always have had a passion for travel. I have been often been regaled with stories by my parents of my wandering wild spirit. With apparently no fear in my heart and a penchant to strike up conversations with practically anyone, I seem to have grown up with a strong inclination for travel and exploration.
Bangalore was where I was born and is my hometown, but I spent my formative years all over India. My father was in the Indian Air-Force and we travelled frequently from city to city every few years and I got to experience the varied culture, places, languages and people that make up our beautiful country.Travel was a part of our lives. Being an Air-Force family we moved between various cities and Air-Force bases all across India. I believe, that played an important role in me developing a love for exploration and experiencing new places. As a family, we have covered most of India by road, in my father’s old Premier Padmini.

In my opinion, the most profound lesson I gain through travel is appreciation. Appreciation for not only the wondrous nature of this world we live in but also its inherent beauty we see all around us – in people, culture and geography. Every trip leaves my heart filled up awe, inspiration and a true appreciation. The construed veils of politics and religious differences fall way and comes forth the rich culture, beauty of humanity and true bounty of nature. As I meet people, their cuisines, their way of life, as I travel from place to place, I am filled with a sense of camaraderie, tolerance and respect – a deep feeling of oneness enveloped within rich diversity.

When you meet people who open up their hearts and their homes, it warms your heart to know that deep down, all of us are in the same pursuit of happiness, family, love and belonging. Travel enriches your soul, builds acceptance and humility. It brings out the true nature of your being and makes you appreciate life and all the wonderful you are blessed with.

I am the mother of a bubbly and sprightly 11-year old daughter. It is understandable that traveling with young ones can seem very intimidating; especially for women coming from families where a woman assumes multiple roles – a mother, a daughter in law, a career woman and a wife. However, it is exciting to note that India is evolving to be a global attraction and tourism is one of the biggest growth industries in India. With the expansion of social media and internet, travel has become much more accessible and can be tailored to accommodate all themes and budgets. These days, with a little planning and preparation, it is possible to go on a fun-filled, exciting and safe trips across the world.

Leaving the daily routines and tasks behind and opening up yourselves to the experience of the new and the different, enriches your spirit and builds stronger family bonds. Having a little travel companion adds volumes to the experience. Exposing the little mind to what the world has to offer, in addition to schools, books and TV, is invaluable. I have travelled with my daughter to numerous places across the globe and I am very fortunate to provide her with so many experiences and memories which I am sure she will cherish for her of her lives. She is a trooper and a very good traveler.

I am also a professor for applied sciences. As an educator, I feel blessed and fortunate to be exposed to so many impressionable minds, year after year. I take this aspect of my life very seriously and am motivated to lead by example. I take pride in encouraging young student to follow their dreams in whatever area of their life they are passionate about. As a hospitality educator, I encourage my students to travel and sample eclectic cuisines and different cultures. I believe that my job as a teacher goes beyond the classroom walls and textbooks. It includes facilitating a life filled with purpose and joy.

Road trips are unpredictable and unstructured and add to that, the thrill that there are countless amazing destinations waiting to be stumbled upon. To us, the world has always been a large ball of twine, just waiting to be unraveled and what better way to do it than with the wind in your hair and the road ahead of you.

When Nidhi Tiwari from Women Beyond Boundaries proposed this crazy expedition from Delhi to London in an Indian car, across 17 countries, I promptly hitched my excitement to hers, packed my bags and jumped into the car.
For me as an individual, the road trip combined anticipation, adventure, and exploration all at once. Sometimes the open road threw some challenges my way. Traffic jams, accidents, even getting lost. It is at these times where one can really grow by overcoming the challenge at hand. The open road holds the keys to discovery. Maybe it’s an old diner off the side of the road. Maybe it’s a beautiful lookout. Maybe it’s just a nice meadow perfect for a picnic. One never knows what might be just over the hill. I have created thousands of memories on the trip, which will stay with me this lifetime.

Another unforgettable journey in my travel memories will be my trip to South Africa. I really pushed my boundaries by bungee jumping from the world’s highest point, the Blaukrans Bridge, skydiving at 10,000 feet, swimming with the Great White Sharks and watching a pride of lions up close at Kruger National Park.

I guess, I get my traveling streak from my mother. I cannot remember any holiday since birth that my mother did not drag all of us on one vacation or the other. She has always been an avid traveller and she does not miss an opportunity to explore the world be it day outings in and around Bangalore or dragging my father through the untamed wilderness of Kruger national park. Although she worried and anxious about my WBB travel plans, she did not once discourage or try to talk me out of the trip. Before, during and after my trip, mom was a pillar of support and encouragement. I guess she saw her desires being fulfilled through me – exploring all those countries, people and cuisines. She supported me through all my travel concerns, support with my daughter during my trip and still is a proud champion of the exposure WBB got with this trip.

I have to say that my husband was probably more enthusiastic about my travel than me. He ensured that everything was taken care of at the home front.”

On advising women and mums who want to travel on their own, Rashmi says, “Firstly, make sure the paper work and visas are in order before you leave. If you are planning a road trip, the procurement of visas needs to be a well choreographed dance, given that some of the countries issue transit visas for a few days only. The entry, traversing the country and the exit need to be well planned. Ensure that all the papers are in order.

Make sure you have enough number of copies. If stopped by police, preferably show the copies instead of the originals -especially, Central Asia and Russia. Be well informed about the fuel and the supply points before setting off. Ensure that the basic maintenance of the vehicle is carried out every 5000 kilometers. Split your money between travel cards and cash. If travelling in the winter, make sure that you are geared up with enough warm clothing.

If one follows the law of the land, gets dressed appropriately and doesn’t take foolish risks, road trip to any part of the world can be safe and enjoyable.

Lastly, ensure that you pack an open mind and a whole lot of curiosity. Travel is liberating and the learning is immense. “


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