The following interview has been taken by me of Ms. Ishita Sood – Successful Blogger, Two time international Solo Traveler and an old friend from school. This is the 1st interview in the new series on ‘Cerebration’ entitled MAVERICKS. The series will feature 10 people from my life who took the plunge, did things differently and landed up not just being successful but truly happy. I call them Mavericks in every sense of the term and applaud them for ‘being themselves.’
Akriti: Before I formally start your interview I’d like to take a moment and express my gratitude to you for being a part of the new series on ‘Cerebration.’ So, what did it feel like when you were approached to be a part of a series that was featuring people who are not just successful but are successful being happy?
Ishita: It definitely took me by surprise and I felt both ecstatic and privileged thinking about. Thanks so much Akriti to help me be part of Cerebration. I am so proud to know a person like you since childhood and I am thrilled to be doing this interview for you.
Akriti: I feel you’re one of those people who derives pleasure from writing your thoughts on subjects that fascinate you? No wonder you run a successful blog yourself. But I’ll come to that a little later. First I’d like to know what you views on expressing yourself via writing.
Ishita: Thank you for the blog mention. I love writing about things I love, especially things that drive my imagination. I was very young when I started to write poems. Even though they were only scribbles on a diary but I always used to think that I could do something big one day with writing. It is very important that we express in the way we like best. People choose to express themselves in different ways- there are writers and then there is the rest of the world.
Akriti: Now let’s talk about your blog – ‘Italophilia’ (which I’ve been following for a while now). What made you start your blog? How has the overall blogging experience been?
Ishita: Thank you for following my blog Akriti. It feels good to have people like you around who appreciate and encourage someone else’s passion. I started my blog a few years back but did not start writing until I visited Italy in 2013. I only started writing to keep it as a diary for my Italy travels. Little did I know that it would take a whole other turn. Initially I saw I had no readers, I was still new to the world of blogging and it was almost impossible to get followers but slowly I got the hang of it. Readership takes a lot of time but in the end it’s all very fulfilling and brews results.
Akriti: Your blog has Italy written all over it. Your tweets are about that too. In a way you seem to have fallen in love with the beautiful country. Isn’t it? What is about Italy that drew you so close to it?
Ishita: You are right. Italophilia- which literally means appreciation for the wonderful land that is Italy, was born because of my first trip to Italy. My blog and my Twitter profile are more or less centered on Italy because I feel connected to that country in ways I can hardly express. I feel half Italian in soul and it’s no joke!
The first thing that drew me to Italy was its beauty- lush green landscapes, rolling hills, endless stretch of sparkling ocean, roadside caffes, little trattorias, the first taste of gelato, Roman ruins…. I could go on and on. But what I most love about that place is the people. I love their passion for life and I hope to keep visiting Italy to learn from them.
Akriti: I’ve always believed that everybody should, at least once in their life time travel solo. It makes you a little more of who you are. What are your thoughts on traveling solo?
Ishita: Traveling solo is an experience I would recommend to everyone. But only now., because I had never thought traveling solo myself until a few months back. Italy gave me the courage to it. My love for the land gave me the courage.
I know now I can travel anywhere- even in India where things are not so easy and safe. It’s sad that most people around us are skeptical to eat alone, let alone travel. But it’s all about taking a plunge. I know it sounds fancy and big right now but everyone should try it for the experience. No harm done!
Do not travel solo to do the “thing” or because it’s in fashion but to travel and experience a little more of the world around you. You might just accomplish finding a bit more of yourself.
Akriti: What is your take on conformity? Why do you think the most successful and happy people never conformed to the shams of society?
Ishita: I am a free willed individual never wanting to conform to set rules or standards. I follow my heart and do what I want. Maybe it sounds like I am a through and through rebel but I am not. I am just opinionated and strong in mind than most people around me. I believe in standing up for my rights and in things that are wrongly done. I have been like this for long and this is a part of me. People like us who follow what their heart wants are often criticized by society but in the end we win because we do what our hearts desire. Being happy is not just a state of mind, it is also dependent on your thinking and personality.
Akriti: I’m a huge fan of Steve Jobs. When the man was alive he used to say, “Those who feel are crazy enough to change the world are the ones that actually do “. This quote is my life’s motto. What is your view on it?
Ishita: I absolutely love it. It is so true and I have several people around me who think the same and follow this view. Isn’t it awesome to see someone running after their dream?
Akriti: Why is thinking for oneself and standing up for oneself seen as selfishness by society?
Ishita: Because they still want women to conform to standards set in the past, to be a slave and not think of herself, to be the sacrificing one and stand for only her husband and children and not herself. I think it comes from the fact that women are “expected to”. I think that explains a lot in itself.
Akriti: Is being an independent, successful and a liberal woman, even in the 21st century, seen by many as a threat? Why do you think people feel that way?
Ishita: What do the words ‘free spirit’ mean to you?
Someone who isn’t bound by rules set by the society.
Akriti: Do you agree that being a ‘free spirit’ for a woman is harder than it is for a man?
Ishita: Sadly so. But times have changed and I’m optimistic. I think it’s a lot easier in our society now because women have opened up to find a path for themselves.
Akriti: Since I’ve known you from school, I can tell my readers that one of your hobbies was reading voraciously back then? Do you still read? You think reading add more perspective to one’s life?
Ishita: Its so sweet that you remember this. Yes I still read as much as I did before or maybe a little more (on weekends it’s a lot more) I think reading shaped me as a person and opened my mind to several possibilities. It gives me a sense of freedom and identity.
Akriti: Who are your favourite authors and why?
Ishita: I have a long list of favorites right from start-Enig Blyton, Jane Austen, JK Rowling, Ruskin Bond, Andrea Camilleri, Italo Calvino and Haruki Murakami to name a few. All of these authors are wonderful storytellers and I connect to almost all of them in several ways. Blyton, Rowling and Austen were a very strong force behind my growing years while Ruskin Bond brought me to the times I spent in the mountains. Italo Calvino is my current favorite who writes amazing prose. If you haven’t read him already you must try J
Akriti: Would you like to write a book someday? Perhaps on your experiences in Italy?
Ishita: It has been on my mind since long and now that you ask, yes. I don’t know when or how it will happen. But I know it will be there for sure J
Akriti: How do you feel at this exact moment, when you look back and see yourself ‘grow’ and ‘evolve’ all these years?
Ishita: I feel proud and happy of myself. I know my calling lies in much more than I thought earlier. For instance I never thought life would take me to Italy and I would feel connected to the country in such a strong way.
Akriti: What is your greatest life lesson learnt?
Ishita: Nothing comes easy but what comes to you is only a result of your hardwork.
Akriti: How does Ishita Sood see herself a decade from now?
Ishita: Writing a book on Italy!😉
Akriti: Lastly, but most importantly I’d like to ask you – Are you happy as an individual?
Ishita: Indeed I am. I live a fulfilling life on my own terms- I do what I like best- read, write and travel
Ishita is a solo traveler and a lover of the beautiful country of Italy. Apart from her successful professional life, she runs a highly successful blog (Italophilia) where she expresses her love for Italy and describes in detail the wonderful experiences she’s had there as a two time solo traveler. For those of you, who are yet to take a trip all by yourselves , visit her blog and get inspired.