Sunday Anchor

Sugandha Das, 27

Sugandha (right) with an Australian tourist in Binsar.  

“When I am invited for lunch, I don’t dress up. I wear trekking shoes and hike an hour through the jungle. I hear the calls of birds and animals. I have gone back to how life should be,” says Sugandha Das.

And life in the city? “It was too compartmentalised,” she says. “You wake in the morning, buy groceries, work, go to movies and pubs. This is how people spend life — without living. I just couldn’t take it anymore.” People in cities move in crowds and hardly have time for themselves, she adds, but “being with nature is to be with yourself.”

Before: Social media manager
Now: Estate manager at Binsar Wildlife Sanctuary, Uttarakhand
With degrees from St. Stephens College and Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, Sugandha has worked as a mountain guide with a luxury travel company, as copy editor in Aleph Book Company, and then social media manager for the Mahindra group. She was earning about Rs. 70,000 a month, but quit after two months.

In Binsar, Sugandha rents rooms to tourists, treks and is a birdwatcher.

People in the cities make sense of their lives by joining nature clubs and gyms, but “it’s ridiculous,” she says. “We exercise and cleanse our bodies, but why put in toxins in the first place,” she asks.

The avid blogger does miss the city sometimes, so she returns once a month to do open mic comedy and slam poetry shows.

“One of my biggest fears in the city is rape,” she says. But in Binsar, although she is the only woman among 10 men in the forest, she feels safe.

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Printable version | May 15, 2021 7:19:30 AM |

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