Nothing quite compares to the thrill of sitting on the edge of the seat, eyes glued to the track, pitch or court for Vishal Gupta, co-founder and managing director, Momspresso, India’s largest multi-lingual content platform for mothers. Watching a good game of tennis, cricket, or a Formula 1 circuit burning up with zipping cars is a great stress-busting activity for him. “Watching an adrenalin pumping match is the next best thing to being a sportsman yourself," jokes Gupta. Having ticked off Malaysia, Germany, Barcelona and the Indian circuits for two F1 and major tennis championships including Wimbledon, Madrid Open and the Queen’s Club, his eyes are set on the international cricket tournaments around the world. The other thing that helps Gupta escape the corporate grind is his love for outdoors. Both sports and nature offer inimitable inspiration and a quick fix to refresh and rejuvenate.
But what makes Gupta get into action himself? “I usually stick to the softer side of the adventure spectrum, but love wildlife safaris and driving holidays," says Gupta. “I grew up in Bengal amidst sprawling tea gardens, so nature and outdoors have always been a staple part of my holidays, “ he says. “As clichéd as it sounds, it’s important to me that my kids, Arhaan, 14, and Arjun, 10, to understand the value of creating memories on trips. I hope for them to open themselves to unexpected experiences and simple pleasures on the road. We’re biased to wildlife holidays as a family, so we try and include national parks as often as we can. The last most interesting trip was to Ranthambore to spot the elusive tiger. While it was thrilling to be on the tiger trail, the highlight was unlocking the idea of being in the crisp, unpolluted air of the forest, and appreciating a world so distant from the internet," he remembers.
Gupta manages to squeeze in two to three breaks a year, syncing the time with school holidays. “Fortunately, as an entrepreneur I have the flexibility to tweak my calendar to accommodate the family. Week long vacations are reserved for the long school gaps in summer and winter, and we manage a couple of additional short weekend getaways by planning ahead in the year. Shorter holidays are ideal to get behind the wheel and allow for more spontaneity to stop anywhere or go off the highway," says Gupta.
One such driving getaway involved sidestepping the national parks and taking off to Manali from Delhi. “Even though the town is a busy tourist hub, we added our own dimension to the trip to make it unique. On one occasion, we took a rather un-motorable path from a village off the main town, uncertain of where it would lead us. After hours of driving amidst the countryside, it opened up to an unspoilt location, pleasantly still not on the radar of Manali crowds. The location was straight out of a movie scene—complete with a stream, an open meadow and tall pine and oak trees guarding the secret spot. It was the perfect escape," Gupta remembers about the most memorable and unexpected highlight from a road trip. “The goals to be disconnected from the phone to enjoy the simple merits of outdoors were met here perfectly."
But all vacations are not sans phone and laptops. “I don’t get the luxury of being absolutely phone-free, but I do try and increase the gap between checking mails and messages. Unless the location is off the grid, I give myself the levy of being available online for a few hours to stay on top of things back at office. This way I’m free of worry and don’t have work piled up when I get back to office. It would have been impossible without the penetration of technology," he says.
Sporting events, wildlife spotting and driving holidays apart, Gupta is also trying to notch up the adventure quotient in his travels. “Contrary to my relatively small appetite for high-octane activities, I did strap on a pair of skis in Gulmarg last year. It was difficult at first, but I managed to stay vertical throughout my time on the snow-covered slopes," he laughs. “It’s something that I definitely want to go back and try again." Until then Gupta is looking forward to covering the Gir National Park in India, and staying tuned to sporting action in different parts of the world.
Addicted to Outdoors is a series in which company leaders inspire us through their favourite adrenalin packed holidays.