Sandeep Sandhar stepped out on the deserted road in the middle of the night. He instinctively drew his down-feather jacket closer around him, wondering how many of the city folks had ever heard the sound of Silence.
Sandeep Sandhar stepped out on the deserted road in the middle of the night. He instinctively drew his down-feather jacket closer around him, wondering how many of the city folks had ever heard the sound of Silence. Out there, with the mercury dipping down to minus-30 degrees in the cold deserts of Ladakh, 'Silence' grew taller as you looked around the surrounding snow-capped peaks, and - like a vacuum - sucked away all pretense of time.
Sandeep should've been back in Delhi a couple of days back, toiling away for his big, fat pay-cheque from his fancy-titled corporate job. Mother Nature of course threw a spanner in his plans... and gave him his life back. The weather in Ladakh has a mind of its own. On the day that he was to travel back, it packed up. All flights were postponed indefinitely. There was nothing else for Sandeep to do but to trudge back to his 'home stay', and ask them to take him back. The charming people that Ladakhi's are, they welcomed him with their toothy grins and a hot bowl of thukpa.
Once the initial irritation of a plan gone awry subsided, Sandeep Sandhar settled down to some freewheeling thoughts.
"I have been an avid traveller, trekker and a mountaineer. I have travelled across 25 states in India and climbed 5000 meters-plus peaks. I have been exploring culture in India and abroad, and here I'm stranded - and enjoying it - on a road less travelled. Surely there's something that all this means."
The thought stayed with him, and slowly but surely turned into a plan; a plan called 'Roads less Travelled'.
For the next three days, every morning Sandeep Sandhar would go down to the airport to take a plane back - unsuccessfully as the weather refused to relent - and every evening get back to his home stay, and his elaborate plans of a start-up. The fourth day of his extended holiday in Ladakh dawned bright and clear. Sandeep was ready to get back to the city... and back to a brand new life.
"By the end of that trip I had worked out a detailed plan of a travel venture which takes people to unique and offbeat places. I did not know much about the travel business, but sometimes all one needs is pure passion.... and I had plenty of that when it came to travelling and exploring."
Thus the IMT Ghaziabad alumni of the 2001 batch began the uphill climb to entrepreneurship.
"The ï¬rst challenge was to let go off the corporate sector and a well-paying job. This was an internal challenge that I faced. The second challenge was to understand the sector. My functional area has always been sales and marketing. Before starting this venture I never had any exposure in the travel and tourism sector. Recruiting people is another tough task. Financial planning is also very crucial because you need to understand the ï¬nancial implication of every decision before you jump into it; especially when you are not from the sector your projections can be totally haywire."
What ensued was a series of unique, offbeat travel offerings from 'Roads Less Travelled', most recent being the 11-day cycling trip from Manali to Leh - which saw participation from professionals quite high up the corporate ladder like the Business Head of Jack & Jones.
"We are in the final planning stage of two more events - a photography trip to the Pushkar Mela and a 'skydiving from the Mt. Everest' trip." Check out www.RLTgo.com for offbeat experiences and destinations.
Sandeep is posturing 'ROADS LESS TRAVELLED' as a one-stop shop for offbeat travel. The expansion plans revolve around being the top 'oï¬€beat travel company', not just in India but abroad as well.
"It is very important to understand that once you start something you really have to be patient," Sandeep recently reminded the youngsters of IMT Ghaziabad , while being showcased in the 'Entrepreneur's street' segment of the latest edition of Sampark - IMT Ghaziabad's alumni newsletter. "It takes time - sometimes even years - for the venture to start giving proï¬ts."
Guess Sandeep Sandhar knows what he's talking about. After all, entrepreneurship too is a road less travelled...