Lavanya Singhal is one of those select few who has taken the risk and turned her passion into her profession. She has set up an online shop called Nature Lounge , an e-commerce platform that designs and innovates essential camera accessories for photographers and people who love to travel. Onmanorama catches up with Lavanya who describes herself as a travel storyteller in the weekly series Travel Tuesday.
It is painful to spend a few hours in a shopping mall. In fact, I have always looked for reasons to not go shopping. I would rather escape to a new land. There is some kind of romance in traveling. It gives me a high and I feel liberated. Whenever I travel to a new destination, it is quite enriching, I bring back experiences, learnings, and knowledge. I realized I love to narrate tales about my travel once I am back –in the form of photographs, videos or stories. That is what I am today – a travel storyteller.
Why Nature Lounge?
During my travels, I noticed people struggling with comfort. And it got me thinking, why should one compromise on comfort and not feel at home while on the move? That is what got me to creating Nature Lounge. Nature Lounge is all about innovating products that are for the comfort of photographers. I love to pamper the photographer in me and create products accordingly. Of course, there is a very thin line between photographers and travelers today. Interestingly, I have been a student of finance and Nature Lounge is transforming me into an engineer. I am burning midnight oil learning engineering drawing to be able to create useful hardware for photographers and travelers.
I always have a deja vu feeling when I travel. School textbooks had characters from France who could not roll their Rs properly. The first time I was in Paris and read “sortie and entree” at various places, it was like I understood those characters better.
Sadly, the best of the experiences are mere memories. The camera fails to capture those ‘wow’ moments. While on a cruise on the Laccadive Sea, I had one amazing experience. I was throwing seashells into the warm waters and every time I would throw a shell, I would scare a fish that would pop about 3 feet out of water and travel parallel to the sea for a long distance before going back into the comforting deep waters. It was a funny sight and I thought I was hallucinating for fish cannot stay without water for such a long time. Many years later when I saw the movie ‘Life of Pi’ is when I realized that I had actually seen flying fish!
I have had many unforgettable moments. Like that elderly British couple in Sri Lanka that followed me for good 7 kilometers for they thought I knew how to reach a monument. I was just following the voice-over of GPS and enjoying the fresh air.
The village lady from Turtuk in the Himalayas who demanded a ‘Bindi’ if I wanted to go back to India! This border village was a part of Pakistan and many people are still confused about their nationality.
When in Tadoba a year back, our driver pointed towards the bush and said see, there is a small baby tiger cub. The cub was in a funny mood and decided to mock charge and it was a scary enough moment. A perfect opportunity to capture the cub but with it just about 2 feet away from our safari vehicle, I have just shaky videos and blurred images.
There is order in the jungles that we cannot see in our civilized world. The big cats do not eat unless they are hungry. They wake up with the rising sun and retire at dusk. And it is a world in itself. There is so much to learn from the jungles. My only request to travelers is, do not take your modern equipment with you to the jungles. After all, you are going to escape your mundane life. Also, when you photograph animals, take care of the fact that they are not used to flashes and other external sources of light.
I know my passion has taken a professional form. I continue to concentrate on Nature Lounge and want to grow my venture. I keep looking for ways that can simplify the life of a photographer and traveler. I have started grooming enthusiasts on how to travel and combine business with leisure (bleisure). I wish to educate people on how to save better for their travel plans. How one need not erode their investments or capital just to travel. After all, what else would one want to do in life if not travel and know as many people as possible?
Message to travelers and those want to travel
Eat one pizza less or buy fewer clothes, but travel for sure. It broadens your horizons. Makes you a tolerant person. Explore the world but be a responsible traveler. The world needs to be there for future generations as well. Most importantly, have fun. Traveling is not a serious business.