Vagabonding Case Study: Inderjeet Mani

Inderjeet Mani

Age: 55

Hometown: Boston, MA

Quote: “I was pleasantly surprised to find that the rest of the world was as normal or insane as everywhere else.

How did you find out about Vagabonding, and how did you find it useful before and during the trip? Someone recommended it to me, and I found some of it to be rather encouraging as I set out.

How long were you on the road? Two years, and still counting.

Where all did you go? Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, India. I don’t like to breeze through places, so I spend a considerable amount of time hanging out and drinking in the local atmosphere, especially off the beaten path.

What was your job or source of travel funding for this journey? Savings, and occasional IT consulting.

Did you work or volunteer on the road? I got involved in volunteer teaching (math) for high-school girls in a shelter run by the Children’s Organization of South East Asia (COSA), see

COSA operates from a community development approach, providing support, safety and opportunity to
children who are victims of trafficking, sexual exploitation and abuse. It is a small-scale, personal, no-frills organization
that does astounding work!

Of all the places you visited, which was your favorite? It is hard to pick just one place. The most spectacular and thoroughly relaxing experience was floating down the majestic Mekong in Laos, watching fishermen cast their nets, and greeting the children in riverside settlements as they waded out to us. The section of the river near Luang Prabang was especially exhilarating.

However, it’s hard to beat the experience of hiking and birdwatching in the mountain jungles of Fraser’s Hill in Malaysia. Finally, I have to say my stay among the Toda hill-tribe in the Nilgiri mountains in India was a real eye-opener (see

Was there a place that was your least favorite, or most disappointing, or most challenging? I didn’t like Singapore that much. I had been there a decade earlier, and most of the charm I had then found in the old city was now gone. (For an account of that lost world, see ). I found it far too corporate, with too many high-rises.

Did any of your pre-trip worries or concerns come true? Did you run into any problems or obstacles that you hadn’t anticipated? Not really. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the rest of the world was as normal or insane as everywhere else.

Which travel gear proved most useful? Least useful? My Lenovo X60 laptop worked brilliantly throughout. An umbrella acquired in Malaysia has remained faithful, surviving even severe thunderstorms. In terms of useless items, an expensive backpack suitcase proved too fragile for the road. Had to switch to a suitcase with wheels instead of a heavy backpack. The high-end binoculars received as a farewell present were too cumbersome to carry around.

What are the rewards of the vagabonding lifestyle?

  • The lightness — owning no possessions other than what fits in your backpack/suitcase.
  • The freedom — knowing that you can live where you choose, whenever you choose.
  • The ever-growing sense of respect — for the common humanity of people you meet and engage with on your travels.

What are the challenges and sacrifices of the vagabonding lifestyle? The main sacrifice was giving up our pet dog Holly. She loved her new owner, but it was very hard for all of us. To add to that, she passed away a year later.

What lessons did you learn on the road? Be mindful. Let go. Forget the filth.

How did your personal definition of “vagabonding” develop over the course of the trip? I did not see myself as a vagabonder, or even a vagabond for that matter. I was apprehensive at the start of my journey, and worried about wasting my time, but I soon discovered that a productive life can be lived outside the confines of job and career. I also never expected to make so many friends on the road, especially those who had been traveling around the world on foot (or bike) for decades.

If there was one thing you could have told yourself before the trip, what would it be? You can always live even cheaper than you have so far.

Any advice or tips for someone hoping to embark on a similar adventure? The best advice I ever received was to ignore other people’s advice, and to listen to one’s gut feelings.

When and where do you think you’ll take your next long-term journey? I plan to spend part of the winter in Burma, hopefully including a sojourn in a forest monastery. My mother’s family lived in Burma between the two world wars, so I also plan to go visit their old house.


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Posted by | Comments Off on Vagabonding Case Study: Inderjeet Mani  | October 27, 2010
Category: Vagabonding Case Studies

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