Femina, April 2014

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Devapriya Roy and Saurav Jha have travelled over 16,000 km on local buses and are writing the book The Heat And Dust Project together. A large part of their journey was documented on social media in real time on the Facebook group ‘The Heat and Dust Project: A book in motion’. The first part of the book is slated to be published later this year. Devapriya is a novelist and Saurav is a writer of non-fiction.
“We were excruciatingly tired of the rhythms of desk jobs and the expectations of a middle-class life, and we hoped The Heat And Dust Project would bring meaning and clarity. It wasn’t easy to bring everything together and take the jump from fantasising about this idea to actually doing it. Putting all our meagre savings into this journey meant an extraordinary amount of pressure. Because this is our life, and giving up jobs and what they represent is hardly as romantic as it might seem initially.
“Once we decided to leave our jobs, plans actually began to crystallise. HarperCollins was interested enough in the idea to commission us. Money was always the main concern. The way we travelled made it possible—a very tight budget of Rs.500 a day for bed and board.
“The other concern was personal. Travel requires a certain level of freedom. The pull of duties is strong. Once you’re married, people obviously expect you to behave in a vein of `settled responsibility’. You must tie yourself up in EMIs and routines, spend your spare time imagining your next big purchase. And here we were, leaving our jobs to take up the risky profession of being writers. But then learning to embrace uncertainty is the most important aspect of a traveller’s life.
“For anyone looking to take time off to travel, here’s our advice. Make a realistic assessment of the budget and your travel goals. Frugality is desirable, but how frugal is a personal choice. You might want to get a travel guide; we found Lonely Planet India comprehensive. Safety can be a factor; travel in a group, and if alone, stay alert. The tourist circuit is full of pushy touts, but if you are firm but polite, you can keep them away. It’s a good idea to have a smartphone that can help out in sticky situations. For good measure, carry a can of pepper spray!”

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