Most women of my age are married, have babies and are striving hard to strike a perfect balance between their own aspirations and the world’s expectations. I, Kamiya Jani, am no different. I have been married for 8 years with a 5-year old daughter. And a Happy Mother’s Day 2019 to all you strong moms out there!
But ever since my childhood, I have had this strong desire to see this beautiful world, every nook & corner that nature has created, and see how people live differently in different parts of the world. As I grew older, I tried to fit into the societal and cultural norms, but to be honest, I have had a hard time making peace with my heart.
The feeling was so intense that I kept attracting such instances in my life that brought me closer to my dream. I have been working since I was 21, got married at 24, had a baby at 27 and yet I have managed to travel to more than 35 countries. I’ll tell you how!
Childhood & Travel
Wanderlust has been genetic to me. My father is a very passionate traveller. Every weekend, he would pack us all up (me and my two siblings) in a Maruti 800 to explore the world outside of our house. It could be anywhere – from Pune to Shirdi or Mahabaleshwar. Till the age of 18, I had seen quite a few places in India with limited budget. Many a times we would stay at a relatives house in a different city and that would help in saving accommodation costs. Instead of buying travel tickets, we would drive down to different places in the comfort, or let’s just say, sight discomfort in our small car. The experience taught me that you don’t need big bucks to see the world, you just need to have a strong desire.
The connection between travel & happiness became stronger. As I grew older, my friends would talk about shopping and the next big designer bag they want to buy, I was thinking of how do I see every part of the world. When I was 19, my father took us all for our first international trip where we covered four countries together – Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia & Thailand.
Job & Travel
Shit happens and I started working in media as a feature writer, producer & reporter. I couldn’t travel as often with my parents but they continued the journey with our family friends.
Life had other plans for me. One year into the job, and a colleague who had to travel to Malaysia to cover the F1 race at Sepang Circuit fell sick. I was asked to fill in. I couldn’t even pretend to be upset about my sick colleague. I was that excited. The trip was for free, everything. I saw many other eminent travel journalists around me who looked absolutely comfortable in their skin. I couldn’t believe that travelling can be a full time profession. I knew the universe was listening and pretty soon, I was doing a lifestyle show in the same channel. It came to me after years of hard work on a desk job but I was still happy about it.
The job demanded me to travel extensively in India and abroad. My job as a travel host gave me experiences I could only dream off. Be it ballooning over Melbourne or diving underwater in Maldives, snorkelling at Bali or bungee jumping in South Africa, and solo traveling in Europe or dining under the stars in Rajasthan. I had the best time of my life and guess it showed in my anchoring and presentation skills. My shows were very well appreciated. That’s when I realised that I was finding joy in not just travelling but also telling tales while travelling.
Marriage & Travel
Two wonderful years of a lifestyle & travel show and 20 countries covered! Soon, I fell in love with a wonderful person and decided to get married. I said to myself, it’s time to settle down. I must find a stable job to keep my marriage stable. It never came from my husband but I just felt that it won’t be taken well if I continue travelling the way I do, even after marriage. I took up another job as a studio news anchor. The job required me to be in office from morning 6 am till 3 pm as I was anchoring the first show of the morning at 7 am. I would talk about the Indian economy, stock markets, number crunching. While, in my mind, I always wanted to be somewhere else doing something else.
However, my amazing honeymoon & romantic travel expeditions with my husband helped in satiating my travel desires. It started with a romantic honeymoon at Maldives, followed by a city break in London. We also walked around the beautiful lanes of Paris, Amsterdam and Bruges, which continues to be my favourite place. Down under, we had a great time driving around the Great Ocean Road in Melbourne in Australia. Two years into marriage, 26 new countries discovered and a little something started growing in my belly.
Pregnancy, Work, Family & Travel
Preganancy in India is often treated as a disease. As soon as you announce the news, everyone presents their lists of dos and don’ts! Thankfully for me, my husband, in-laws and parents are very progressive and didn’t put any restrictions. I was three months pregnant when I got an opportunity to travel to Ireland for work. The channel was coming up with a new lifestyle show and thought I would fit the role perfectly well. I was joyous at that thought but I was also nauseatic, vulnerable and a bit doubtful about everything around happening in my life. Yet I didn’t want to give up on the opportunity to explore another part of the world. I almost felt like it was the last solo trip of my life as after having a baby, travelling solo would be a distant dream. I was driven around from the northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland, from exploring the streets of Dublin to staying at Dromoland Castle to witnessing the splendour of Cliffs of Moher to attending an Irish House Party. The physiological changes in my body took well to the trip and I came home happy & healthy.
Soon I visited Dubai & Abu Dhabi for work which was followed by my husband planning a lovely babymoon to Turkey when I was 7 months preggers. Even with all the travelling around, I had a very healthy pregnancy and a normal delivery. Soon I was a mother to a beautiful baby girl, Ziana, and by now, I had seen 29 countries.
Baby & Travel
This was a new & never-experienced zone for me. Life was all about feeding & cleaning the baby. I was new to this and it was tiring but an extremely enjoyable journey. From waking up to breastfeed her to taking an afternoon nap with her, the focus of my life became my daughter and her happiness. But travelling with babies is not easy. I tried it once in my maternity leave only to tell myself, never again! I felt that she was far more comfortable at home than wandering around the streets under the harsh sun or heavy snowfall.
I resumed work in 5 months of her birth but I didn’t travel anywhere for 18 months. While I was enjoying my new role of motherhood, my itchy feet was also craving for a holiday yet again. And soon again amidst the mudane 6 am – 3pm job of financial markets, I got an invitation from a Luxurious resort at Jaisalmer to experience their hospitality and also feature them on the travel show, which was now being anchored by someone else. I got a go-ahead from my boss, as expected but leaving behind my 1.5 year old daughter for two days, umm, I wasn’t so sure. On my work trips, I start my day at 6 am and end it at 11 pm! So, taking her along seemed like a really bad idea. I had to be shooting, anchoring and producing the show. I tried my luck and asked my mother-in-law if I could go and to my surprise, without any hesitation or reluctance, she gave her approval. Living with in-laws has been a boon in my life. Not only are they extremely supportive but also encouraging.
I was back at doing what I do the best. I had breakfast with the Peacocks, experienced sundown on the sand dunes and finally dine under the stars. I converted everything into a filmic experience and came back with a beautiful visual story to tell on television. I loved every bit of it and realised how much I missed doing this.
Even though I was travelling once in a while, my primary job at the channel was still to anchor business news shows. Travel or lifestyle shows were not considered to be very important and I was often told to put more energies into financial news as that was the channel’s primary requirement and everything else wasn’t just plain frivolous.
I continued with the same job till my daughter was now 3 years old. Having been in the industry for 10 long years, I just decided that it was time to quit my job and chase my dreams without having to work with an organisation who didn’t value it enough. There was no financial responsibility on me and I could safely quit my job and I did it.
Entrepreneur & Traveller
I decided to start a personal blog, Curly Tales, where I would recommend people places to go to and things to do. I started documenting my travels with family, created videos and posted it on social media. I started converting everything into a filmic experience – be it spending a weekend at a private island or eating the local delicacy in a small town.
I would make a video out of everything and post it on social media to let people experience what I am feeling. My husband supported this passion project of mine and helped in setting up a small team for me. The content got a professional touch and soon brands and tourism boards started to notice. In the last two years, I have been invited by multiple tourism boards, restaurants and brands to partner with them. I feel happy to say that I don’t travel for free, I get paid to travel! Ever since Curly Tales started in 2017, other than covering the more than 25 places in India, I have also been to Czech Republic, New Zealand, Oman, Northern Territory Australia, Hong Kong, Turkey, Dubai, London, Portugal and counting. My dream came true and my passion became my paycheque.
Rules while Travelling
It has not been easy managing work, baby, travel and family. Over the last two years, I have slept less but lived more. I do have some rules to try and strive that perfect balance. I’ll be honest – the balance has never been perfect but I try everyday. The biggest gift I got from my mother-in-law is the fact that she has never made me feel guilty for my passion towards my work. Living with my super supportive in-laws have only helped me in this journey. As for me, I am glad that my daughter is reaping all the benefits of growing up in the company of most experienced individuals, her grandparents. Grandparents are an important source of life lessons for the children. My daughter Ziana is growing up to be so independent and I hope I am giving her the right lesson of – everything is possible if you really love your dreams.
Here’s my rule book:
- I travel only once a month for not more than 5 days
- I travel only when my mother in law is in town
- On every other, I drop my daughter to school everyday and start my day at 6 am and get into work by 8:30 am
- I reach home by 5 pm, one hour after she comes back from school
- I avoid travelling on weekends as I like it to be our ‘family time’
- Between work, family & friends, I had to give up on one thing. I chose to give up on my social life with friends. I miss them, sometimes!
- My circle of friends has become my team at Curly Tales and we go out once in two months. They continue to have a great social time but I am not always a part of it.
- I find my ‘me time’ in flights while traveling. The airplane white noise is the perfect sound for my content plan and video ideas.
The most important rule is to remind myself constantly that I cannot have everything all the time and that’s absolutely okay. There was this scene in the movie, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani where Deepika and Ranbir are watching the sunset and Ranbir worries that they’ll miss the light show back at the wedding venue. Deepika says “Jitne bhi try karo, life mein kuch na kuch chootega hi. Toh jahaan hai, wahi ka mazaa lete hai.” And that’s what I’m doing.
You can follow her expeditions on instagram (kamiya_jani)!
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