Running a Marathon Called Life
- 08 Mar, 2014
- CEO Lifestyle
We ascend the stairs to enter the room of Gauri Jayaram, Regional Director for the South Asian and Middle Eastern division of one of the world's leading escorted travel company, Globus family of brands, brain behind The Active Holiday Company and author of 'Wise Enough to be Foolish'. Wearing a smart red sweater and with alacrity that is highly infectious greets us a woman arguably in her early 40s. And as revelations unfurl one after the other in the highly engaging half-hour conversation, Rekha Shanmugham can only conclude that she is indeed, 'wise enough to be foolish'
In a carpeted room with pastel walls and snow white drapery in the centre of Sadashiva Nagar, Bangalore, sits Gauri Jayaram. A medium-sized globe lies in close proximity to her followed by a collage of photographs taken at several destinations along the course of her globetrotting. The photographs are a clear indication that she lives a life ruled by wanderlust. In fact, sheer passion for travel is what propelled her to helm of an international travel company. When Globus identified her to be the best fit to spearhead operations in the subcontinent, she did not think twice before nodding in agreement. "I did not even know how much I was going to get paid," she says, matter-of-factly (wise enough to be foolish, did we not say? Well, this is only the tip of the iceberg).
Speaking of icebergs, Gauri recently completed a glorious trek to the base camp of Mount Everest. And if her elaborate blog is anything to go by, the experience was sublime. "I called my girls from the highest point to tell them, guess where your mommy is, at the top of the world!" she says, the adrenaline rush apparent even as she reminisces. In fact, a second look at the photographs would tell you that adrenaline rushes are what Gauri thrives on. Instead of the usual happy faces pressed perilously close to each other against the leaning tower of Pisa, Gauri's holidaying pictures scream a thirst for exploration, with the woman often masqueraded in adventure-sport gear. It comes as no surprise then, that she co-founded 'The Active Holiday Company' said to be India's first and only travel enterprise that specializes in creating international vacations based on cycling, trekking, skiing etc. "I hope to be running India's biggest active adventure company in a while," she states confidently. She is looking to inspire a lot more people, particularly Indians to embrace the 'active' style of holidaying
Incidentally, it is not just Gauri's holidays but even her regular days that brim with physical activity. Being an avid participant in both national and international marathons, she vigourously trains for about three days a week. Running helps her find sanity. "Everything just miraculously falls into place when I run," she says. She is also constantly looking for avenues to clock additional exercise. Her Honda City, unfortunately had to bear the brunt of this and lost a recent battle with her treasured bicycle. "I sold my car as I wanted to ride my Trek 7.1 to work," she laughs, sensing the incredulity the words trigger.
As is clearly evident, Gauri is the quintessential wearer of many hats. Doting mother of two young girls, astute businesswoman, author, constant traveller, exceptional marathoner and the list may have just crossed the half way mark. She juggles numerous responsibilities with incredible tact which makes us wonder if time is maybe her biggest luxury. "Once I was on an international conference call all the while trying to wriggle my daughter's head out of the railing," she laughs. But on a more serious note, she adds that work-life balance is paramount to her. Whenever she is away, her daughters call her on a daily basis and irrespective of whether she is cycling down treacherous mountains or wrapping up a race to the lowest point on Earth, her iPhone 4s never 'Rejects' that call.
She credits the support from her spouse and the qualities ingrained in her as a child for being able to do what she does. Gauri was born into a fauji family and therefore discipline is only second nature to her. After spending the initial years of her career in Mumbai, this graduate of Sydenham College of Commerce and Economics went to on to become a veteran in the field of travel. But not before dropping out of B-school in between. "I was simply bored out of my wits," she shrugs (and yes, she gets the wisest here in our opinion). Gauri Jayaram is not the average girl who takes the beaten track. She simply does not believe in doing things that hold her interest no more. Gauri is also a person extremely comfortable in her skin. Embellishments are almost a rarity for her splendid personality is adornment enough. You are more likely to find her gliding down snow capped peaks with a pair of razor sharp ski blades than strutting around in a pair of six-inch Jimmy Choo shoes. "I am almost unattached to materialistic possessions," she says and turns thoughtful. "I guess it has to do with my extensive travelling. When I trekked to the base camp of Mt. Everest I realized that one can live his life out of a small bag."
Living life out of a small bag is indeed Gauri's story in a nutshell. This has interestingly manifested itself right on the cover of her book 'Wise Enough To Be Foolish' which features a girl on-the-go. The fictional memoir penned down in utmost honesty lets you in on the first few chapters of her life and ends with Gauri finding her Prince Charming. 'Happily ever after' or not remains to be read in the next one which she hopes to cross off her to-do list before hitting fifty. This book is expected to take off from where the previous one ended and revolve around her professional journey in the next decade. When pressed for a sneak peak she says, "A lot of young people have time-bound goals in life. However, satisfaction continues to elude them even post achievement. This makes me wonder if it is more important to chase the destination or enjoy the journey." She pauses a while before adding, "The journey always matters more to me than the destination."