Techie goes literary about Travel

Pic courtesy : Tech Goss

Techies these days aren’t just about the sometimes mechanical world of bits and bytes. They discern their avatars off-site and many eventually leave very well paid jobs to taper off the tech path into a ‘calling’. Techgoss meets Aashish Gupta, techie, traveller, and the man behind Yellowleg site, an innovative online bookstore selling travel books to the ‘discerning traveller’.

Techgoss (TG): Tell us about yourself first.
Aashish Gupta (AG): I grew up in Goa, went to college in Mumbai, did my post-graduation in New York, worked for 4 years in Seattle, then 3 years in Hyderabad and moved last year to Bangalore.

TG: How about your techie work experience? What sort of techie work have you done and for which company?
AG: I’ve worked in software development at Microsoft for 3 years and then at Amazon.com for 4 years.

TG: When did the Yellowleg bug bite you? How did it all start, how did it evolve?
AG: Well, I’ve always been in love with travel and maps and travel books for as long as I can remember. As a career choice, it started with the desire to translate this love of travel into something useful for the Indian traveller. The original idea was to build a physical bookshop where travellers could gather and do their travel research. But given the high cost of commercial space rentals, combined with relatively small number of discerning travellers being present in a single location, I couldn’t figure out a way to make this viable. So I decided to take it online so I could reach discerning travellers all across India for a relatively lower cost of running the business.

TG: You spoke elsewhere about your ‘locked up creative energy’. Other than travel, what are your interests?
AG: I’m also a painter with a specific interest in Impressionist art. I’ve made 6 paintings worth mentioning, but since the last one year I’m too busy splitting time between Yellowleg and family.

TG: Could you say about where all you have travelled? And have you documented your travel on any medium?
AG: So far I’ve traveled to 14 different countries ranging from far-off French Polynesia to nearby China, and extensively within India. I do maintain personal notes of my travels but haven’t published them on a blog since I’m not regular or systematic about it.

TG: Have you been noticed for your interests? Nationally? Internationally?
AG: No, Yellowleg is the first time I’ve gone public about my interest in travel. Before this I was just a regular traveller.

TG: Tell us more about Yellowleg.com… why Yellowleg? What is behind that name?
AG: I wanted the name to denote travel but not something too obvious. So I sat with a list of migratory bird names looking for something uncommon and catchy and chanced upon Yellowleg. And loved the way it sounded right away.

TG: how has your family taken this venture of yours? What sort of support do you get from them?
AG: It took, and still takes, a lot of convincing especially for family members who belong to the old-school of thought and value stability over things like doing what you love, realizing your dreams, etc. During the initial days, it also took a lot of effort to bring my wife on board for this decision, but once we were sure this is what I’m going to be doing, she’s been a source of great support and encouragement and even contributes in significant ways to the business.

TG: Tell us about your reading. Who do you like best as an author? What are you reading now?
AG: I can sit with a good guidebook for hours just doing armchair travel. Besides travel books, I absolutely love easy-to-read books on economics and sociology (Freakonomics, The Undercover Economist, anything by Malcolm Gladwell). Right now I’m reading Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle, to inspire me to plan a trip to Provence sometime soon.

TG: what is the future of YellowLeg? Any plans for diversified paths?
AG: Right now the idea is to play it by the ear. If this initial venture gets off to a good start in a year or so, the potential in this space is huge. There isn’t currently any major Indian brand that is identified with the independent, discerning traveller (as opposed to the myriad brands like SOTC, MakeMyTrip, Cox n Kings, etc. that come to mind for the package tourist). So we hope to be that brand.

Aashish Gupta is one among the brave new generations who goes on to prove that one can have the cake and eat it too. Check out his site.

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