Be an informed traveler with Vinod Shreedhar as he creates ‘Journeys with meaning’
"Conservation is the state of harmony between men and the land- Aldo Leopold"
Despite all of the degrees, one can add to their name, how many can actually say they are truly enlightened? We first need to educate ourselves on how to empathize with one another, for our culture, for our future and our environment. And there is no better education than actuation. This became Vinod Shreedhar’s life’s journey and ‘Journeys with Meaning’ became his way of education and exploration.
Vinod the Music Composer:
Education as a construct never really impressed nor worked for Vinod. In school, he was forced to study the subjects he didn’t want to because being a “Science Student” is the only way one could prove their smartness and worth in the world, he put up with that. But when it came to college, it just seemed further pointless than it already was. He dropped out of college and started doing things that interested him. He started learning music by himself and started composing music over time. He created a success full network as an AD music composer. He realized soon that he spent most of his energy trying to get the money he was owed and selling his image to get a gig most times. So, he travelled.
Vinod the traveller:
Vinod always loved travelling. Meeting new people. Striking a conversation with an absolute stranger. And that gave him relationships that have stood the test of time. It was his alternative way of education. Learning newer things on every journey. The love for the environment, culture and people is what shaped his life.
The warmth he received from the localities was something he wanted to reciprocate through actions that benefited them. He became an insular of people and accepting them for their intentions and not their opinions.
Along with his friends, he volunteered with an NGO through which they taught children Environmental Studies amongst other subjects.
He realized that teaching a bunch of children in a classroom in Mumbai about global warming and melting icecaps didn’t create any impact on these children who have never seen snow even once in their lives. This lead to the inception of ‘Journeys with meanings’.
‘Journeys with Meanings’ or JWM became his way of educating people on how to conserve this planet while travelling across newer locations and culture.
‘Journeys with Meaning’:
Over the years, earth-friendly travel is one of the most beautiful ways to take us from theory to practice, from reading to experiencing, and from watching to doing. This kind of travel compels us to re-evaluate our opinions about ourselves, other people, and the planet itself. It challenges us to take a fresh look at our beliefs about the world and compare them with the new experiences we’re having. Most importantly, it opens up large welcoming windows into diverse other worlds that our education and work are often unable to. Travel then became the primary way of learning about the world we live in.
When we travel to ‘see’ places, seeing remains narrow and exclusive — we end up focusing our attention on a few sightseeing visits. But when we make ‘exploration’ our purpose, we open ourselves up to so much more — different experiences, a diversity of cultures, and new ideas and practices that we can take back with us when we return home.
All journeys are done in consultation with the local communities that benefit from the visit. Stay is at home-stays or guesthouses run by the local community. The footprint generated is very little non-biodegradable garbage, and everyone eats locally grown food at locally run places. The groups are educated about inspiring environmental solutions that they can adopt in their lives. And part of their profit goes to earth-friendly organizations, that promote the restoration of native tree species that are endangered.
It is on one of these journeys that Vinod met his partner and now wife, Neha Kandalgaokar. Neha first travelled as a participant on a 'Journeys with Meaning' trip to Ladakh in 2013. What emerged next was a lasting connection not just with the place, but also with the people of Ladakh, with fellow travellers, and with the idea and ideals of JwM. She has been working with JwM since then. Over 7 years of experience in conceptualizing events and developing engaging content for children, along with her love for responsible travel, she now creates experiential learning journeys for school students.
Vinod’s journey ahead:
According to Vinod, one has to decide what is important for them in life. 20 years later in life when you have spent all your life in degrees, if you are not happy with what you are doing at the end of it and are deeply dissatisfied with your life, your choices and the people you have surrounded with, your education, your money and status don’t matter. And years later when there is no water to sustain humanity or no food to feed yourself. What matters is that you are happy with what you do if you have learnt enough life skills to sustain yourself and the world around you at the same time.
Vinod and his team are to inspire a transformational shift in people’s beliefs about sustainable living and to encourage them to adopt a lifestyle that protects and conserves Earth’s biodiversity — a lifestyle that works not just for people, but for the planet as well.