Engaging Interview with Derek Earl Baron
“No matter how your adventure turns out, You always grow.”- Derek Earl Baron
Is this quote enough to describe him? Especially, if you have been reading his blogs, for a very long time!
I was rushing for his interview. Meanwhile, cursing myself with several questions, as I was starting to develop cold feet. I had read and followed him since a long time. But I did not know what was about to happen.
Staring at Cafe Coffee Day and quite confused, I saw him sitting, in a cosy little corner.
He was now right in front of me. Simply sipping coffee, wearing his grey t-shirt teamed up with Denims, it was hard to believe that he did not organically belong to Delhi. His personality merged with everyone else, around him.
With an angled eyebrow accompanied by a soulful and genuine smile, I was warmly welcomed into the comfort zone of one of the world’s finest travellers. There was no more nervousness or cold feet now. This was going to be the best moment of my life and I knew it.
I was now sitting with Derek Earl Baron, popularly known as ‘Wandering Earl’ amongst his fans. He is an experienced globetrotter who has been jaunting non-stop since 1999. He has explored more than 70 countries and is known for his lively and insightful blogs.
On his 15th trip to India, I finally managed to have a tête-à-tête with him.
- How did you manage to escape from the kidnappers in Dhaka?
They had no weapons and that was a relief for me. I entered the wrong pin number every time when they took me to any ATM machine, asking for $1000 dollars. One of them even tried talking to me in English but I pretended not to understand.
They had kept me locked for two days in an unknown place. We used to sit and watch each other’s face with blank expressions. I soon discovered that they weren’t smart kidnappers (laughs) and finally managed to escape through a fire exit one day. It’s funny when I remember the incident today.
- Tell us about your encounter with the Taliban men in Pakistan?
Yeah, that was scarier than the one in Dhaka! (Widens his eyes) I was sitting when a young man came to me asking to join his friends. It was terrifying to see a group of armed men, with most of them in their 20s.
They said that they hated Americans. They didn’t know anything about New Zealand. That’s where I used my presence of mind and introduced myself as Ian from New Zealand. It was hilarious when one of them replied, “New Zealand is one of my favourite countries in Europe!”
- Are they really that violent as portrayed by media?
I didn’t find them scary or violent. I stayed up with them for almost 5hrs and it was a great experience. Lack of schooling was the one thing I sensed to be a problem.
For example they would repeatedly say that they hated Americans, but when I asked them why, they had no answer. They were just repeating what had been indoctrinated to them by their elders.
- How did you find Pakistan as a tourist destination?
People there are really sweet. The country is equally beautiful. I was touched to see kids coming up to me and pleading me to convey the world that they were not terrorists. I had no fear to introduce myself as an American there.
- What were the problems you faced on your first tour to India?
I was 23 when I first came to India. Shillong opened its doors for me and from there I headed towards Kolkata. I should tell you that Shillong is like a whole different part of India. It is very calm and peaceful.
It took some time for me to adjust with the crowd and colours of this country in Kolkata. But now I feel like a part of it. This is my 15th trip to India and I find myself really comfortable here.
- Which is the queen of all hill stations in India according to you?
I have no right to say which is the best or deserves to be the queen of hill stations. But I personally love Ooty. It is nice and friendly. Enchanting hills and lakes, the entire atmosphere is just awesome.
- What is the growth you see in yourself today since 1999 when you first started travelling?
Well, there has been a definite growth in my understanding of people and their cultures. I am no more judgemental and always try to look at the other side of the story. Travelling has helped me see the world with a different perspective.
- Is it really so easy to just buy the ticket for any unknown destination?
Buying the ticket acts as a push for you to take the challenge. You are left with no other option than to take the plane because you have spent the money for the ticket. It is normal to be scared at first, but once you are on board it is more of an excitement than to be scared.
- Is it safe especially for a lady traveller to go for such unknown excursions?
World is a much safer place than what people think. You would never walk to some unknown street at 2 in the night in your city so why do it in some unknown city! Use the same tips of security while travelling that you would use in your own country. It is your common sense that works as your security blanket.
- Which is the most favourite country of yours?
I love Syria. It is a beautiful country with the friendliest and helping people in the world. I can leave my wallet on street for hours there and on one will care to even touch it, it is that safe.
- What are the top 5 cities you think you know the best?
The first is of course New York in America, followed by Bucharest in Romania, Melbourne in Australia, Istanbul in Turkey and Delhi in India. I find myself comfortable and know what is where in these cities.
- Any particular memory you would want to share about Delhi?
I was once pick pocketed here. I had to call back home to get me some money. There was a small booth that read STD and ISD on its hoardings. I asked the man inside if I could call my family from his booth. After listening to my situation the man not only allowed me to call but also insisted to borrow Rs. 1200 from him.
It has been many years since then and he still has his still same old booth in Paharganj. We have become friends now. Every time I come to Delhi, I make sure to see him and we go out for a tea.
“I thanked him for his thoughtful insights and at last could not resist myself from asking for an autograph and a selfie with him. The world traveller was standing by my side now, and I was still wondering of how many countries had those legs travelled and how many more are still waiting for them to reach.” – BY PRIYA PATHAKhttps://blog.capertravelindia.com/engaging-interview-with-derek-earl-baron.htmlDerek Earl BaronCaper travel,Derek Earl Baron