Siddhartha is one of the most cheery and enthusiastic people I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Always on his feet and always suggesting ideas, he lightens up the mood. Let us find out a little more about him.

Siddhartha, tell us a little bit about yourself.

My background is that I have finished my Bachelors in Psychology and I am currently pursuing my Law degree and trying my hand at the civil service exams. At the same time, I am working for Awestrich. I am extremely passionate about heritage, public transport, food, culture, music and literature. I love travelling and backpacking especially in and around Maharashtra.

Born in the same place as my father, in fact, several generations of my family have been born and brought up in this place. I live behind Metro Cinema, near Marine Lines. I was brought up in the heart of the town, “A pakka towny.” All my life I have lived in these tiny lanes of South Bombay. Linking Park, Fort, Marine Drive, especially Girgaon where I conduct an experience called The Girgaon Chronicles.

A true towny. Speaking of the experience, how did you get the idea to start this journey?

A large chunk of my life has been spent in Girgaon, my maternal uncle lived there. As I grew up, I realised that I should learn more about this place. So, I tried to explore the lanes, the alleys, which I already knew pretty well, but I learned the history and the culture behind them. And I found out, in this whole process, there is a huge amount of tangible and intangible heritage of Bombay in these lanes and alleys. For example, there is a fire temple, a “Sarkari Tabela” and a lot more things just hiding in plain sight.

You seem to be doing a lot of things at once. Where are you doing your Law degree from? How do you get the time to manage everything else?

I am a student of Government Law College. And I don’t know how, but I somehow manage to find the time to balance out my things. You know… Ho jata hai.

That is such a typical Mumbai attitude, “Ho jaiga”

If people can stand on one foot in a local train all the way till Virar then anything is possible.

Speaking of which, you are a train enthusiast, that is not a secret. You love them.

Yeah, of course, of course.

How did this fascination begin?

Well, I was always interested in travelling, like land transport. Along with trains, I am very passionate about buses. When I was a kid, my dad used to go to Mumbai Central Station at 4:30 am in the morning. I used to watch the trains arrive from 4:30 am to 10 pm, it used to end with the arrival of the August Kranti Express. Afterwards, this affection gained ground and I went and joined railway groups. I joined this IRSE online club or a community as it was, and slowly shifted to WhatsApp groups. Hence the passion was nurtured.

In all your travel till date, have you had any unique experiences that stuck with you?

My most favourite travel experience was when I went to this place, Jejuri. When I had gone to Jejuri, I remember trekking through the older temple of Khandoba early in the morning. While I was travelling to Jejuri via train, I remember watching the sunrise over the terrain. A very beautiful and stunning combination of red, yellow and blue. Beautiful, sunrise over the mountains. When I got to the temple hardly a few people were present at the temple. Got a very good darshan of the lord, and being fond of Lord Khandoba, the entire moment was beautiful.

Siddhartha, how did you start working as Native Manager at Awestrich?

Well, I started out as a Native at Awestrich. When Rihen started Awestrich, he contacted Rutu who in turn got in touch with me. I was and still am a close friend of Rutu. From there we started this entire journey together.”

After you have finished your Law degree, and after you give your civil services exams, what are you planning to do?

Plan to work, earn money and support my mom. The typical things in life. Try to pay her back as much as I can. On a serious note, in five years I’d like to be a Lawyer. But civil services are very tough. I am just a civil services aspirant, someway down the line, I would like to be a Lawyer and keep my mother happy. Travel India and as much of the world as I can. Try to do more train journeys and visit more temple towns.

On that, do you have a bucket list, of train journeys on which you want to travel? Maybe get on the Deccan Queen or the special train that runs in Rajasthan?

See, the Deccan Queen is a train that runs between Mumbai and Pune. I have travelled on that one several times, it’s not that big a deal. I think you have it confused with the Deccan Odyssey.

Oh yes, my bad!

Yeah, and the one in Rajasthan is the Palace on Wheels. I don’t want to travel on these trains as they give a very artificial feel of the journey. I would like to travel on passenger trains. The trains that stop everywhere. These trains give you the actual feel of the landscape, the people. In the Palace on Wheels, you’re distanced from the reality.

You won’t meet the same people on the Palace on Wheels as you would in a passenger.

Yes, that’s correct. One train that I want to travel in is the Jodhpur to Jaisalmer passenger. Because it’s a desert route, there are times during the journey where it feels like the train is just running on sand.

 

Siddhartha hosts 4 experiences in Mumbai: The Girgaon Chronicles, Parivartak – Social Reform Walk, Horse To The Gate and The Oval Contrast.