BY RAJIV DINGRA
Ten years ago, when I was just 22 years old, I made my first international trip to Dubai. I was a year into starting WATConsult, and didn’t really have the money to pay for my trip. This trip was completely funded by my sister, who was working in Dubai. I was lucky to have some amazing experiences on my first trip itself, which included flying a two-seater plane with a co-pilot. That experience changed something in me. For the first time, I was aware of the enormity of the earth and the insignificance of us humanbeings. It made me realize that the only thing that makes us who we are is our self-belief. Flying thousands of feet above the ground also made me feel stronger about my vision for WATConsult, and where I wanted to take the agency.
My tryst with travel had only started with that trip, and it was not very long before I was again travelling across the seas to speak at conferences or serve as a jury member for awards. I was in Malaysia as a speaker at the Malaysia Social Media Week, and then I travelled to Kenya for the Afri-Tech Summit. This was the year 2011. WATConsult had grown to a 70-member team by then. Malaysia and Kenya were like chalk and cheese and two distinct images stayed with me through those two trips. The first one was the view of the Petronas Towers in Malaysia.
Just the fantastic architecture and magnificence of it all reminded me what pursuit for excellence can do. In Kenya, I took a safari where I saw a lion and a lioness from my vehicle, and being so close to them was an amazing experience. Nature in Kenya makes you feel so alive that you realize the zest for life cannot be replaced by anything else.
My first scuba-diving experience was in Bali at the end of 2011, and it probably was the most serene and peaceful experience. Post that, I have done scuba-diving in six other countries, and my favourite remains Maldives. It was my second dive in Maldives, but the views under water, the marine life and the silence one experiences with only the sound of one’s own breathing, can be very calming. In those moments, you shut off all noise and just by breathing, focus on the power within you.
Years later, by the end of 2015, I had my first sky-diving experience in Australia - one hell of an experience, if I may say so! The free fall is when your heart pounds so fast that you almost feel you will die. Then as the parachute opens, it slows down. You can see the entire world in miniature under you, and as you slowly descend, the world becomes bigger. It gives you perspective. It shows you how, when you distance yourself from things, they don’t look as big as they do when you are too close to them. This helped me to look at problems from a distance and deal with them with the calmness required to overcome them.
With each trip, I still learn something new that I would be able to take back and add value to what I do at WATConsult. Every adventure has taught me to be a better person, both at work and outside it in life. It has also enriched my mind, body and soul.