Kamiya Jani On Being The “Chief Traveling Officer” At Curly Tales

34 countries. 103 cities. And the rest of the world to explore. Kamiya Jani gave up her full-time media job to pursue something that all of us dream of but are usually not courageous enough to pursue. She now calls herself the “Chief Travelling Officer” at Curly Tales. Her advice: “If you look like your Aadhar Card picture, you really need a trip!” Here is Kamiya’s passion to paycheck story.

Highlights of the episode

  • Understanding that it is advisable to first work with some company or under someone to gain domain experience before starting on your own.
  • I do believe in experiences over possessions, journeys over destinations and people over places.

Quotes and Takeaways From Kamiya Jani

  • “We have to chart our own unique course and define which goals fit our lives, values and dreams.”
  • “Passion pays in more ways that can’t be measured so don’t be out there hoping to make big bucks as soon as you launch. Be passionate and the rest will follow.”
  • “Don’t quit your job as yet just because someone’s profile says so. Be smart and build a strong plan B before taking the plunge.”

You began your career as a journalist and went on to become a Financial Markets Anchor before starting Curly Tales. What inspired the transition?

It has always been my dream to see the world and travel as much as possible. However, post-graduation, like everyone else, even I wanted a steady job. I had my eyes set on the business news anchor seat even when I was studying in college. It took me about 5 years of reporting, writing, producing and scripting before I got there. I started as a personal finance writer at CNBC’s web division, Moneycontrol.com. Moved onto doing a lot of feature shows like The Auto Car Show, Life & Style, E-Turn on Bloomberg TV. I totally enjoyed my stint here.

However, after two years I decided to quit due to erratic working hours. I was then called by ET NOW for a role of a business news anchor. I knew the universe was listening. Having mastered the art of live anchoring and gaining domain expertise for 5-6 years, I realised that being confined to a news studio is not my thing. I wanted to be somewhere else doing something else. I was also doing a travel and recommendation based show ‘Weekend Mantra’ alongside my business news shows and I was obviously enjoying that a lot more. I also realized there wasn’t any platform that was dedicated to local discovery, travel and recommendations. So I decided to quit my job and put all my energies to Curly Tales, which was a small time blog, a year ago. My own passion to see the world, meet people from different origins, discover hyperlocal gems, know about the cultures across the globe; inspired the transition. Curly Tales became an instant hit and today we are a community of 1 million plus who want to get the best of what life has to offer.

How has the experience been different across the domains?

Difficult. Lots of late nights. Tons of hard work. But, I would give a lot of credit to my initial experience in the TV and production world that literally taught me the basics of visual storytelling and video making. Being comfortable in front of the camera also comes from there. However, before taking in the plunge in the digital world, I had to unlearn a lot of things as both the mediums work differently. Content consumption patterns are different too. Everything is well packaged and meticulously presented for the TV medium. While for the digital, people like it real, more personal. Everything needs to be quick, snappy and to the point. There isn’t enough time for any build up. Same is the case for the written content online.

In terms of domain, talking about stock markets and economy v/s shooting sunrises and delicious food – the choice was obvious for me. We have to chart our own unique course and define which goals fit our lives, values and dreams.

Bitten by wanderlust and the seemingly perfect Instagram profiles of travel bloggers, a lot of youngsters today are getting attracted to travel blogging, in order to escape the mundane 9 to 5. What’s your advice to such people?

It is not as hunky dory as it appears. Let me be honest, the lives are not as perfect as the Instagram profiles. I have had my own journey of ups and downs, despite having a decade of experience in the media and the sail is still not smooth. I am not complaining as that’s the fun of it. But I do recommend everyone out there to work under someone or a company of their choice that will help them with domain expertise. You understand a lot of nitty-gritty of the business. Unless you are a rich daddy’s son who wants a flamboyant life without worrying about making money, start right away! But if you wish to go a long way then you need a full proof plan. And of course, you need to be very passionate about your job!

How can the newbies ensure that their content is different from everyone else out there and they get traffic to their blogs?

Well, it definitely has to be unique and different. That is the keyword. Either you do something different or you do the same thing differently. And you have to constantly keep evolving. There is no one single formula to crack it. Many other bloggers have started creating content similar than ours and it’s a good alarm for us to always stay ahead of the curve. In terms of getting traffic, social media is the king. Make full use of it and do not rely on only one platform. Diversify and you will find your audience.

In your opinion, is there any value in making a distinction between a tourist and a traveler? Do you make this distinction, and if so which one do you consider yourself?

Be a traveler and not a tourist is a very good saying but hardly practical for me. I am designed in a way that if I visit a destination, I want to visit all the iconic places. After all, they are iconic for a reason and they would be touristy. That shouldn’t be a reason to not visit that place. Once, I am done with that, I would like to be laidback and soak in the city or even get my beach mode on. I love interacting with locals and knowing about their lives. I do believe in experiences over possessions, journeys over destinations and people over places. We all are made of the experiences we go through in life so I truly value that. We are the accumulation of everything we’ve seen, the things we’ve done, and the places we’ve been. Even Mahatma Gandhi once said, “When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the creator.”

Being an avid traveler, what is the one travel hack that you’d want to share with us?

Hah! So many.

  1. Always apply nail polish while on the flight. The only time you won’t move much!
  2. Always carry a scarf. It is truly a Swiss Army knife of the travel space. They keep you warm when it’s cold outside, they block you from mid-day sun and also act as a great beach cover-up.
  3. Rather than folding your clothes, roll them up into a little tube. This will save a ton of space and stop creases and wrinkles – all in all, pretty sweet!

What has been your favorite city so far and why?

Well, it keeps changing every year as and when I see new places. But my best travel memories are from Cape Town. It is a place with mountains, beaches and city life altogether. Rare to find everything at one place. I also love Bruges in Belgium. It is straight out of a fairy tale storybook. In India, it would have to be Jaisalmer. One can truly have an indulgent and an extravagant experience as the hotels in Rajasthan totally pamper you!

What is the one travel experience that has been etched in your memory forever?

I was in the middle of the Sam desert in Jaisalmer under the shade of an orange canopy with local Rajasthan artists performing dance and music. The sound of sand blowing and the sun melting down right in front of me with a good spread of food laid out. I wanted to freeze that gorgeous moment in my life as I felt, I am blessed to experience this magical moment.

No one gets to take his possessions with him when he dies. At the end of the day, the only thing we can take with us is our memories of all those great experiences that add meaning to our lives. I would rather have roses on my table than diamonds on my neck.

What is one food you can now never eat in India again because you’ve tasted the original version in its country of origin and you’ve been forever spoiled?

Recently on my trip to Hong Kong, I tried around 50 types of different dim sums, they were all so good and of course authentic that I doubt I’m going to have dimsums for a while now.

Do you ever feel burnt out by the constant traveling? If yes, then how do you cope with it?

Travelling can be tough. Airport transfers, immigration queues, flight food, bad roads can take a toll on your health. But you need to be that driven to withstand all the difficulties to enjoy the moment that lies ahead. On my recent trip to Port Blair, I had close to 10-12 hours of travel by air, water and road before I got to Havelock. After having reached there, I didn’t have a confirmed hotel booking. I was all set to spend the night on the beach but one of the hotels called me just before midnight. So you need to be prepared for the worst because traveling is always rewarding in more ways than one.

Apart from Curly Tales, what are some of the other travel blogs that you follow and appreciate?

I love Nas Daily. Love the snackish video content he creates. He has struck the right chord with his community and I wish to do the same someday.

What is your message for all the aspiring travel bloggers reading this interview?

Start a travel fund to be able to fund your passion when you truly can. Passion pays in more ways that can’t be measured so don’t be out there hoping to make big bucks as soon as you launch. Be passionate and the rest will follow. And yes, start early. Don’t quit your job as yet just because someone’s profile says so. Be smart and build a strong plan B before taking the plunge.

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