When Karan Thakur was given the pink slip due to recession, the 24-year-old graduate went into depression. A year later, he found a job he liked but he lost his self-esteem. Now Thakur has a chance to ge his confidence back. Two Mumbai youth have started a website that aims to help youngsters like Thakur deal with their quarter-life crisis. As part of the initiative titled Away Without Leave, they sponsor a three-month journey around the country. This offers people a chance to see life differently, get over their crisis or at the very least, see things from a new perspective. The catch, you have to live in a budget of Rs 1000 per week and blog about your experiences.
“The idea is to allow people to disconnect from routine for 90 days and get connected to life,” says Keith Menon, 25, who co-founded Away Without Leave (AWOL) along with Smriti Ahuja, 26. “The person can then stop thinking about the world and get away from all the clutter. With no strings attached, you have the chance to get over your crisis even as you discover India and meet its many inhabitants.” Menon himself undertook a 45-day journey to east India with Rs 6000 in his wallet to test the concept.
On the journey, the chosen travellers are encouraged to mix with the locals and exchange experiences. They also have to blog (in Hindi or English) about their day-to-day happenings. “By this we don't mean that you blog about what you eat. We want you to talk about what's going on in your mind. We want this journey to be more about the experiences rather than the money,” says Menon, adding that you are also expected to provide details of expenses. If you end up saving at the end of the month, you are given a bonus of Rs 4000.
To increase interactivity and build a sense a community, netizens too can participate by acting as virtual travel guides or suggesting a task to be done. “It could be something as simple as getting shaved in a funny manner to tasting a local spicy dish," says Keith. Once the task is done, the AWOL’er needs to put up a picture supporting his claim. Upon completing three tasks, the donation box is opened for them. Here netizens can donate material objects like umbrellas etc that can be used by the traveller on the journey. Still waiting for a reason to apply?
What it takes to go AWOL
To be an AWOL’er, you need to be between the age of 21-28.
To participate, send an email to the founders explaining your crisis. If accepted, you will be informed of the same and can start preparing for your journey.
For the journey, you are provided with a backpack along with a camera, Internet, laptop and first aid kit, along with the Rs 1000 per week.
You need to take the trip by yourself. No friends or family allowed.
Day-to-day blogs and details of expenses need to be provided throughout the trip
Writing skills are not important to apply
And yes, you can't spend your own money.