Surmai lives to explore. Born in Mumbai, she has lived all over India with her family. From a very young age, her father, an officer (retired) with the Indian Navy, instilled in her a sense of adventure and wonder which has manifested itself in her travels to places like the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in Uttarakhand, Kolahoi Glacier in Kashmir and her recent expedition to the 7th continent, Antarctica.
She is a CSR Executive with Mahindra Susten, the clean tech arm of the Mahindra Group. Her areas of expertise include climate change, glacier hydrology, climate policy, sustainability and corporate social responsibility.
Arthur Conan Doyle once said - “My mind rebels at stagnation.” I think this quote describes me perfectly. I hate it when my life is disrupted by routine.
What I mean is this - as a young, free spirited, working women, I firmly believe in the liberating power of travelling solo. Human’s, I think, were meant to be nomads. Wanderers who ventured far and wide in search of the next big adventure.
Here are just a few ways by which travel can transform our lives:
I am a CSR Executive with Mahindra Susten, the clean-tech arm of USD 20.7 billion Mahindra Group. My work mostly involves conjuring up new and exciting ways to save our planet with a team of like-minded environmentalists. It’s a fun job and I enjoy doing it. But I wasn’t sure if it was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. That all changed when I got the opportunity to travel to Antarctica and see first-hand the impact climate change is having on the continent. Looking at its pristine landscape and learning from the experts on my expedition, I was re-inspired to dedicate my life towards the planet and its people.
Traveling forces us out of our comfort zone. During my travel to Antarctica, my wallet got stolen, almost missed my flights, and had to rely on the kindness of strangers to find my way around. I didn’t speak the language nor did I have any local contacts. But I was able to dig deep and find the strength I needed to persevere. I would have never discovered how resilient, calm, and headstrong I can be, sitting in my room binge watching TV shows. Travel kicks in vulnerability, curiosity, and self-confidence. It’s more fantastic than any business plan made in closed conference rooms.
The isolation of traveling to Antarctica made me realize just how much I still depend on my family for their support and love. It’s easy to underappreciate someone who is always around. Distance, it seems, does make the heart grow fonder. You realise all those big and small things in life that really make your life what it is.
Mark Twain once said that broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner the world. We must venture out and see the world to be able to speak of it. Travelling compels us to take a harsh look at our beliefs and ideologies. It holds a mirror to us and you start viewing things from a broader and clearer lens. Some of the best people I know are the people who aren’t well read, but well-travelled.
We all have a finite amount of time on this planet. There are so many places to see. I urge everyone to get out and start exploring. It will be the best investment you ever make.
05 June, 2018
Surmai Kaushik, CSR Executive, Mahindra Susten talks about her expedition to the remote white continent.
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