Op-Ed: Victours' Firdosh Bulsara On Dreaming & Persevering Through Pandemic
Firdosh Bulsara has been curating safaris and holidays in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Orient for 27 years. The well-known Africa specialist shares some of his accrued wisdom over years of travelling the world and how books and dreams help him cope during this difficult time. Here is his 07AUG address to friends, colleagues and partners in the industry:
Dear Colleagues and Friends – Greetings!
At times like these, one has a range of reactions to our shared, global situation such as: becoming a ferocious reader, a starry-eyed dreamer or even an emotional wreck. While the first two often have limited but positive sustainability, the third that can lead one into trouble, particularly given that there are definitely aspects of the human mind which have been mentally and emotionally challenged. Now though, as we move steadily towards easing out of the lockdowns that have dictated our daily lives, I can say without hesitation that I've been experiencing the full range of these three states of being!
Biographies, travel/adventure blogs and politics have always captured my attention, and these days I prefer books that take me on specific journeys of struggle, passion and perseverance. Nelson Mandela’sA long Walk to Freedom, Michelle Obama’sBecoming, and Tendulkar’s Mahatma-Life of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhiare ones I have read multiple times to appreciate the very essence of their determination to overcome adversities. Mr. Mandela encapsulates these books' central themes when he says: "It always seems impossible, until it is done!"
Other great works by talented authors of fiction and non-fiction have also kept me happily distracted from brooding excessively on the consequences of the pandemic. They say reading not only increases empathy and alleviates anxiety, but I'm sure I've heard that it also increases lifespan! Well, that just might give me that extra time to dream and to explore more, wouldn’t you say?
Dreaming is an occupational necessity for me which I've combined with the belief that you also have to love what you do and then pursue it with all your passion. All my working life I've dedicated myself to that, sometimes elusive, ideal of making other people’s dreams of exotic and exciting destinations come alive. Every day, I dream of places that will provide the most memorable and life-changing experiences for my clients; I can't imagine doing anything else with my life! Very early on, I was taught to pursue specific areas of expertise by my mentor and the founder of India’s premier destination management company, who was also my very first employer back in 1972. He insisted that to succeed in the travel business, one cannot and should not be everything to everybody. ‘Specialize’, he said, and thus, as most of you already know, grew my love for Africa, the Indian Subcontinent and the Far East. It is to him that I owe becoming well-versed in all the various aspects of these and other very select destinations, and I thank him for my successes.
So that leaves the 'emotional' aspects of being endlessly housebound! My heart and head long for the sounds of the Serengeti. My hands itch to be part of the colour-throwing festival of Holi in Jaipur. I want to savour to their fullest the sweet and spicy flavours of Thai cuisine....and the list goes on. While emotional yearnings have occasionally made me melancholy, by changing a negative for a positive, I can see diverse and imaginative solutions emerging to deal with this crisis. As the medical and scientific world moves forward to finding a vaccine, so too, in Tourism, opportunities both practical and illuminating are appearing on the horizon. I already see the emergence of a list of select destinations catering first and foremost to the wellbeing of visitors.
Last month, I cited my concerns and invited my colleagues in tourism to consciously safeguard our fragile environments. Thus, what better path for me to follow than to continue offering comfort, care, peace-of-mind, and eco-friendly journeys. Going a step further, I will personally lead small groups of like-minded travellers on an adventure of a lifetime, prioritizing and implementing the new WHO guided cleanliness, safe-distancing and safety protocols at the hotels, lodges, camps, and vehicles. And, not being one to linger on emotional setbacks, I've been busy creating such ‘fully-escorted’, small group itineraries with uniquely attractive and environmentally friendly safaris in the stunning game reserves of Africa, and the exotic locales of Morocco and India. Drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org we can discuss these possibilities for your agencies and your small groups too. I’ll be delighted to work with you and as always, will be putting my best foot forward!