Recently I had the chance of befriending a fellow human of wanderlust in a Facebook travel group. Chaitanya Shah of Mumbai, India is the founder of a unique travel-related start-up called Lunchex. Its purpose is to promote greater intercultural awareness through the cultural exchange of sharing a local meal together. Interestingly, I would have loved to experience this concept during my lengthy [flight] layover in Mumbai last month en route to my hometown. But I hadn’t yet crossed virtual paths with Chaitanya. Who knows what the future entails, nonetheless?! This is my guest interview with him.
Who or what inspired you to start traveling?
It was something that I did right from my childhood. My parents took me around India quite often and so I always was travelling. So my parents have been instrumental in getting me into the habit of travelling.
How was your travel start-up birthed?
Lunchex.co was born by pure luck. I had to decline a Couchsurfing invite and I offered to take the traveller out for a local meal instead. That sparked the idea of having a platform where people can just connect over a meal. I shared this idea with a couple of friends, pitched it to my boss & team in office and when I did get a resounding yes, I went ahead with building it!
What do you most enjoy about traveling?
Travel is liberating in so many ways. For me travel is about letting go of your routine, exposing yourself to different stimuli and mostly moving around in unfamiliar places and listening to different sounds in terms of language and surroundings.
Will you ever become a foreign expat? And if so… where?
I’d love to live abroad. I’d like to be greedy and say everywhere, but I think I’d love [to] work in Germany. I like their culture and attitude toward work, beer and cake.
Why is India such an attractive place to visit? Mumbai, in particular?
I think the chaos and vibrant colours impress a lot of westerners. Of course when you come from different histories, perceptions are different and so are opinions. I think it’s all this that makes a lot of westerners want to visit India.