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A venture to help crisis-struck youngsters

December 22, 2010 10:30 IST
If you are somewhere between your twenties and early thirties, aimlessly switching jobs, clueless about what you want from life and feel a general lack of purpose, you've probably hit quarter-life crisis.

clueless about what you want from life and feel a general lack of purpose, you've probably hit quarter-life crisis.

Yes, you don't have to be 50 anymore and wait for mid-life crisis; apparently it hits you right after your teens.

For most a few sessions with a therapist may be helpful, but there's another "non-clinical" way to deal with the syndrome - hit the road and travel.

And showing the path to such rat-race stricken youngsters is Keith Menon (25), who believes in the "therapeutic" value of travelling.

Menon is also the founder of the Batti Bandh campaign, initiated to raise awareness about global warming and owns an adventure tourism company - The Khopcha - based in Mumbai.

His venture, Away with/out Leave (AWOL), aims at helping "the call-centre" generation cope with quarter-life crisis and urges them to disconnect from the routine and plug into life as they travel across the country.

"The idea is to travel for three months, within a budget of Rs 1,000 per week and document your journey through blogs, tweets, video-chats and podcasts integrated on the AWOL website," says Menon.

AWOL plans to choose two quarterlifers between the age group of 21 and 28 years every month (total of 24 per year) and provide them with an ATM in which the company will deposit Rs 1,000 per week, a laptop, internet connection and a camera.

All the travellers have to do is document their journey "honestly", not stay in a place for more than a week and, more importantly, complete the journey within the budget.

If travellers run out of money they need to rough it out on their own. AWOL, however, lets the travellers decide their travel plan.

Menon clarifies that AWOL is not a travel blog or a photo album from an unmotivated vacation. "It is not about the travel and the traveller - but a real-life story that emerges out of the constant and dynamic relationship between the two," he says.

Menon believes his model can effectively help cope with quarter-life crisis as he feels experiencing new places and putting yourself out of your comfort zone can help you reinvent and re-evaluate your life.

Dr Chugh, – a senior consultant and neuro-psychiatrist running a clinic in New Delhi –  emphasises the need to re-prioritise one's life as the key strategy to deal with quarter-life syndrome.

With over 70 applications from major cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Pune, Menon believes his business model has a market.

"We have people from diverse backgrounds from the media industry, IT companies and the corporate sector, all wanting to break free from the usual and undertake a journey to re-think their lives," he says.

At present, there are two people travelling for AWOL, Varun Sinha (25) and Sneha Bendre (26). Sinha quit his job as a copy editor in Law and Kenneth, while Bendre worked as a content writer for a media firm.

Sinha has finished his first month travelling and is currently staying in a small town called Sadashivgarh in Karnataka. He says he is open to where the road takes him next. Making friends with locals on the way and staying with them, makes it easy for him to stick to the tight budget of Rs 1,000.

The website AWOL will go live in January, and Menon hopes to make it interactive. "As it gains momentum we would like visitors to suggest tasks to AWOL travellers and they would even be able to donate money to them," he says.

He plans to go for his first round of funding in January after the first two participants finish their journeys successfully, and is currently funding the venture from his own

pocket. His adventure tourism company earns an annual revenue of Rs 45 lakh.

Apart from helping out crisis-struck youngsters, Menon ambitiously aims at cataloguing the world through the eyes of twenty-year-olds.

Yes, you don't have to be 50 anymore and wait for mid-life crisis; apparently it hits you right after your teens.

For most a few sessions with a therapist may be helpful, but there's another "non-clinical" way to deal with the syndrome - hit the road and travel.

And showing the path to such rat-race stricken youngsters is Keith Menon (25), who believes in the "therapeutic" value of travelling.

Menon is also the founder of the Batti Bandh campaign, initiated to raise awareness about global warming and owns an adventure tourism company - The Khopcha - based in Mumbai.

His venture, Away with/out Leave (AWOL), aims at helping "the call-centre" generation cope with quarter-life crisis and urges them to disconnect from the routine and plug into life as they travel across the country.

"The idea is to travel for three months, within a budget of Rs 1,000 per week and document your journey through blogs, tweets, video-chats and podcasts integrated on the AWOL website," says Menon.

AWOL plans to choose two quarterlifers between the age group of 21 and 28 years every month (total of 24 per year) and provide them with an ATM in which the company will deposit Rs 1,000 per week, a laptop, internet connection and a camera.

All the travellers have to do is document their journey "honestly", not stay in a place for more than a week and, more importantly, complete the journey within the budget.

If travellers run out of money they need to rough it out on their own. AWOL, however, lets the travellers decide their travel plan.

Menon clarifies that AWOL is not a travel blog or a photo album from an unmotivated vacation. "It is not about the travel and the traveller - but a real-life story that emerges out of the constant and dynamic relationship between the two," he says.

Menon believes his model can effectively help cope with quarter-life crisis as he feels experiencing new places and putting yourself out of your comfort zone can help you reinvent and re-evaluate your life.

Dr Chugh, – a senior consultant and neuro-psychiatrist running a clinic in New Delhi –  emphasises the need to re-prioritise one's life as the key strategy to deal with quarter-life syndrome.

With over 70 applications from major cities like Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahmedabad and Pune, Menon believes his business model has a market.

"We have people from diverse backgrounds from the media industry, IT companies and the corporate sector, all wanting to break free from the usual and undertake a journey to re-think their lives," he says.

At present, there are two people travelling for AWOL, Varun Sinha (25) and Sneha Bendre (26). Sinha quit his job as a copy editor in Law and Kenneth, while Bendre worked as a content writer for a media firm.

Sinha has finished his first month travelling and is currently staying in a small town called Sadashivgarh in Karnataka. He says he is open to where the road takes him next. Making friends with locals on the way and staying with them, makes it easy for him to stick to the tight budget of Rs 1,000.

The website AWOL will go live in January, and Menon hopes to make it interactive. "As it gains momentum we would like visitors to suggest tasks to AWOL travellers and they would even be able to donate money to them," he says.

He plans to go for his first round of funding in January after the first two participants finish their journeys successfully, and is currently funding the venture from his own pocket. His adventure tourism company earns an annual revenue of Rs 45 lakh.

Apart from helping out crisis-struck youngsters, Menon ambitiously aims at cataloguing the world through the eyes of twenty-year-olds.

Manisha Pande
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