Famous by the sobriquet of her social media handle, “nomllers,” Radhika Sharma (IG: @radhika_nomllers) explains to Education Post’s Tanay Kumar how travel and tourism has transformed India’s local communities.
What is the story behind the word ‘nomllers?’
It’s a mix of two words, nomadic and travelers. I wanted to start something like YouTube way back but I and one of my friends, we both started with blogging, in the initial days. And there was a day when I was just sitting in the Delhi Metro, going to my corporate job and I was thinking about what to represent, something unique, as a brand. So, I thought of the word ‘nomllers’ and started taking it seriously or ‘fulltime’ from March 2018. After that, I quit my job to give this name a better meaning. And, yes, since then, it has been a very good, long, hard but beautiful journey. And now there’s no going back.
When you left your research analyst job for travel, what were your parents’ reaction?
My parents didn’t really understand this initially and they were not really aware of all of this. Initially, they didn’t know that we have an Instagram platform, where we do blogging. I just told them I’m taking a break because I never took any break in life. From college I started working and after that I worked for three and a half years. So, I thought I’ll take a break.
For them, it was a break for me. It was just starting my own little something. But, slowly people started recognizing and, things started coming at home. Tourism people started calling, and my parents got curious. And then, they found out and they were very happy and supportive because till then it reached a certain level of recognition.
You pursued B.Com and a lot of students study commerce. Many students who choose this stream later realize that this is not their cup of tea. Any thoughts on this?
I think in life, there is no guarantee. Your desires, your hobbies, everything keeps changing. You might be craving for something today, but after five years, you might not desire the same thing at all. Like, five years ago, I thought, oh, I will buy this car, I want this car, but now, my goal is like I want to visit that country. But I will say just to go with the flow. Of course, you need to, at least filter it down to science or commerce or arts. People must try to understand what is something that they really enjoy, and they are really good at, like, good in mathematics or good in biology or, psychology, or anything they like.
For me, in my 12th standard, my deciding factor was that I wanted to pursue business and I wanted to be in the finance domain. I knew that, which is now at this point in life, not the case. So, yeah, eventually you do get to know whether this is something you want to continue or not. And commerce is a field which opens a lot of opportunities. In this sense, one can do CA (Charted Accountancy), or CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst), or MBA, or can even start their own business. One can also go for GMAT, go abroad, and can also do Ph.D. There are a lot of opportunities that commerce opens up. So, yes, I think the key is not to be too hard on yourself and just go with the flow.
Many organizations are constantly emphasizing on sustainable tourism and travel. What is your viewpoint?
Of course, the viewpoint is that it’s great. I think everyone should focus on sustainable tourism and that is what our future of travel should be like. Because, with the sudden boost of tourism and travel, there has been a lot of, ecological imbalance and people are not responsible and throwing plastic wastes, mountains. All our mountains, natural environments and ecology are very sensitive and very fragile to all these problems.
Education is definitely one of the keys that people should understand, how to travel responsibly, bring back your waste, support the locals, try to travel on public transport as much as possible. And, yes, one thing is very important that not to be loud and noisy and, just be very, mindful of how to be in that place and respect the culture and the locals. So I think everyone should adopt that for sure.
Travel habits, practices, manners matter a lot. From your own observations, what are some good travel habits and bad travel habits of Indians that you have come across?
I’ll start with bad ones. A lot of us are not traveling for the sake of traveling or for understanding and learning about different cultures, but just to have an escape. That is not a bad thing, but travel is basically opening our mindset towards new lifestyles, new cultures as it gives a broader perspective, that the way we are living is not the only way, or the culture or the beliefs or the faith we have is not the only way, but people don’t travel to understand all of this. Some people just travel to take beautiful pictures, while they don’t like to interact with the local people.
Now the good travel habit, which I really love about Indians is that they are very, cost-friendly. They try to budget their travels and also take their own food, which you miss, especially in foreign countries. In many countries, one is not able to find good food, which really fills your soul. So, we will have those cheat meals or cheat snacks, which they take, which is really important. So, due to this habit, feeling of homesickness doesn’t come.
In a good way or bad way, has Instagram changed people’s perception of travel?
There’s no doubt that Instagram or social media has boosted tourism, which is a very good thing because local communities are really developing and growing. A lot of their funds or jobs are now through tourism, which was not a case earlier, especially in winters when the Atal Tunnel in Manali was closed. But the bad side of it is that because of mass tourism, there are so many people traveling today.
There’s a lot of chaos happening in areas and other areas of our country and they are very fragile to the environment. So, I really believe that there should be a balance. For instance, Kedarkantha and its trek was not that famous five years ago, but now it has become so crowded. So, the government or the locals or people in general can put a cap on how many people can visit that particular area each year.
Then what should all the governments do in order to ensure good, economical travel which balances the ecology as well?
As I just mentioned governments should put a cap on the number of visitors. That is the least governments can do. For instance, in Malaysia, there’s a cap on the number of people that can travel on a particular day or a month. That is something the government should think about.