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6 important lessons travelling teaches you

By Divya Nair
Last updated on: December 29, 2014 18:11 IST
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Do you know the different types of biryanis there are?

That a certain Tunde Kebab, served in Lucknow, has more than 150 different spices in it?

Or that Japanese food has very little spice in it?

How would you know, unless you travel?

Travelling makes you a better personRecently, Delhi-based food entrepreneurs Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma took us on an exciting tour of the incredible life lessons they've learned as part of their career.

Television hosts and food entrepreneurs Rocky Singh and Mayur Sharma addressed a young audience of about 200 in a packed hall at Mehboob Studio in the Mumbai suburb of Bandra as part of the Times LitFest, earlier this month.

Their session was called Hunger Games.

They kept the crowd entertained with games, anecdotes and lots of fun and interesting conversations.

The two men host the television shows Highway on My Plate and more recently Jai Hind where they interact with people from India’s defence forces.

Rocky Singh, 40, quit his job at British Airways to pursue his passion for food, travel and photography.

He currently operates a restaurant in Delhi.

Mayur Sharma, his childhood friend, quit his job as the marketing head of a multinational apparel brand to do what he loves – travel and experience new things.

In an hour long chat with the audience at the LitFest, the two men shared important life lessons that readers could find inspiring.

Keep your eyes and mind open

The world is a beautiful place, "you just need to have the eyes to appreciate it," said Mayur Sharma.

Many of us, particularly the younger generation, are too busy with material pursuits to notice the amazing world in front of us.

"The next time you travel, instead of wasting your time hitting the keyboard, just look out of the window and experience the little wonders of the place," he advised.

Some of the amazing things you'll discover by just keeping your eyes open, he says, are funny and interesting road and restaurant signs, and people and their rich history.

They showed photographs and shared the experiences that they treasure as part of their "lifetime travel memories".

Feed your passion

Besides exploring Indian cuisine and delivering management lectures, Rocky Singh is a wildlife photographer.

"In between shoots, I take time off to venture into the woods and shoot rare species of birds. I can proudly say that I have an enviable photo collection of rare birds," he said.

Don't let your hectic schedules come in the way of your passion, he urged. Just make the time to do what you love to do.

There’s always place for everyone

Rocky Singh’s research has revealed that there are 213 types of biryani and 700 different styles of making it.

He says that is proof that there’s place for everyone.

A decade ago, food critics defined what good food should taste like.

"Restaurant owners were scared to upset critics or differ with them, fearing bad publicity. Not any more. With so many food bloggers and travellers sharing their own experiences, we have managed to take food away from critics and let people have their say," said Rocky.

There’s always scope for new ideas, new people and new experiences.

Their warning: Don’t be afraid to fail.

If you want to succeed, take risks

A few years ago, when Rocky quit his job to pursue his interest in food, people thought he was crazy.

Today, he's a successful restaurateur, runs two successful television shows -- Highway on My Plate and Jai Hind and has written Highway on My Plate: The Indian Guide to Roadside Eating.

The secret of his success?

"Unless you take risks you won’t be able to experience what the rest of the world hasn’t," Rocky replies.

"With every risk, you have a new learning experience. As you take more risks, you’ll learn to make better decisions," agrees Mayur.

Take India to the world

Mayur Sharma has travelled to more than 60 countries across five continents.

He says, "If you were to put the world’s best dishes on one side of the table, it would still not equal the variety that India has to offer."

Rocky Singh mentioned the contribution of molecular chef and entrepreneur Manish Mehrotra, owner of Indian Accent, who gives traditional Indian dishes a twist for international tastes.

Rocky said we need to think of ways to put India on the world map.

"A pav bhaji, that costs Rs 30 at a roadside stall, has the ability to be priced Rs 300 provided we find ways to present and package it well.

"The world is looking at India for inspiration and we need to do it before someone else does it for us."

Inspire change, give back to society

Bureaucrats have only made tall promises so it is up to young citizens to lead and inspire change, said Rocky.

"If you find someone spitting or littering on the road, don't hesitate to stop them.

"This city, this country, is our responsibility.

"All these years we have been quiet and did nothing about it. Now is a good time to inspire change.

"If someone doesn't listen to you and you want our help, we are available, just call us up!" Rocky offered.

Lead image -- a still from Swades -- used for representational purposes only.

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Divya Nair / Rediff.com