A former VJ for Channel V, a model and actor, Sushma Reddy is a recognisable face, having modeled for over 50 well known products, such as Liberty , Godrej, Blender's Pride, Ford Icon, Limca and Thumbs Up with Salman Khan. She did make a foray into offbeat cinema but remained on the periphery of Bollywood, preferring to bid for time, till she was ready to do something that utilised her intellect, wit and imagination better. She found her calling by setting up a niche production house, called Seven Island Studios Pvt Ltd which has just announced two new projects. Travel is seamlessly woven into her schedule and she does embark on each of her travel trips - for work or leisure with a childlike spontaneity that helps her maximise the experience.
You are a style icon and have endorsed some brands most evocatively. What according to you would be the most stylish places to visit?
It would have to be Milan for unique shopping and maybe Nihiwatu Estate in the Sumbawa Islands, Indonesia or Pacuare River Lodge in Costa Rica, as eco friendly jungle luxury lodges are so in.
Do you manage to take holidays often and which is the one in recent times that has a special place in your heart and why?
I do try and travel in short bursts, since I tire of the city easily. My favourite recent trip was to the Binsar Retreat in Uttarakhand with my mother in June. The proximity to the Himalayas, the surreal beauty of the transitional weather and the cool solitude of the adjoining sanctuary was fabulous. Binsar Retreat would qualify as a mid-luxury eco lodge.
You are quite a global person. How do you think Westerners view travel as opposed to Indians?
Westerners plan and take more long and short holiday breaks, they book travel a year in advance some times and they do more research on their destinations. They are also more prepared to "rough" it out. Indians though are catching up real fast. They are becoming increasingly adventurous.
What according to you should be the place of travel in our lives?
I would strongly recommend the last frontiers, namely, Africa, South America and the Poles.
Do you like to plan your vacation to the T or do you like to undertake impromptu travel?
I do a bit of both but doing research is a better way so you maximise your precious time.
Your favourite place.
I don't have one. Each culture and country is so unique.
If you had to plan a budget vacation where would it be and how would you do it?
Anywhere in India for I love the freedom that cultural familiarity allows. I am absolutely game to try the National Parks as well as the mountain hamlets.
Any suggestions on fun offbeat things to do when on holiday rather than head to the usual touristy places?
Go where the locals go, eat what they eat and travel by local transport. This way you will always get the local gossip on what's hot and happening. Every city has some whacky offbeat places and things. Do your homework online for the net always throws up some weird stuff that you can cross check and then experiment with. Read the city guides(like Time out). See what is on offer, enrol for a cooking class or take any one or two- day hobby class. I remember a NYC company that was offering a trip to forage for food in the forests outside the city and I took it up and am glad I did. Also, you could try to learn a skill while you are travelling. Sites like Trip advisor have rather nice opinions and suggestions that can guide you on both, what to do and what not to do when in a certain place.
Lesser known aspects of any popular vacation destinations that you have ended up exploring
In Bali, it was the north and the north east that were sublime. I would give Jimbaran and Semanyak a miss. In Ibiza,the north beaches are really nice-white sand and blue water. A nice break from all the partying. In Santorini, try all the beaches. The Volcanic textures of the various beaches allow for red or black "sand". In the Aeolian islands, off Sicily, don't miss the live Volcano Climb at Stromboli.
US and Europe are still in the throes of recession. Any tips for travellers going to these places
Unfortunately, the going just got tougher with the weaker rupee, especially for families. Try the student backpacker route through Eurorail and Eurobus travel. They are cheaper than flying or driving. Take a pass that allows you multi entries both for travel and for tourism visit purposes. Other things that you can do is to eat local; try things like the Vodka Train, which is a tour that runs from Russia through Mongolia and into China; or visit the planetariums in places like San Francisco or London to check out if there is a special star gazing night. For the US, there are many tiers of room and board.Try the B&B's,eat local,eat at deli's.Try to research restaurant weeks in major cities for cheap entries to the best restaurants. Narrow down your places of interest. Research city guides for what is free at the city parks (concerts, live music, theatre).Go during peak sale times for good deals all around. And remember, it's all about the kind of homework you do before your trip that will help you get the cost benefits and the thrill that comes from getting a cool deal.
What is next on your travel itinerary?
Time permitting I would want to spend at least 30 days travelling through South America.