The Globetrotter Girl | A conversation with Travellers’ World

The following interview was featured in the April-May 2023 issue of the Travellers’ World magazine. To read the full story, click here then flip to page 36.

In this era of extreme competition, corporatization and materialism, when each sunrise is somehow taking us more and more away from nature and empathy, Travel works as the magical therapy that not only reminds us to be grounded but also builds up characters. Anirban Dasgupta speaks to the ‘girl-next-door’ Baisakhi Saha, a real-life inspiration for all on how anyone can achieve their goal in life and all we need to challenge is the inner self.


  • A globetrotter, writer, explorer – already a life anyone would aspire to only in a dream especially from a middle-class family in India. We all know there is no standard formula for success when it comes to achieving your passion, yet, what would you consider the ‘turning point’ in becoming today’s Baisakhi? 

At university, a crippling spinal injury and two years of untold suffering drove me to contemplating suicide. What use was my life like that anyway? Many nights, I toyed with the idea of taking my own life. Then suddenly one night, my back magically healed when I dared to step beyond my physical limitations. It was my first encounter with magic, and in fact, the very first story in my new book: Life Is Abracadabra. Those days, I was also learning German and inspired by the travel spirit of some German students at my university in Singapore, who had come there on exchange programs, I too started backpacking to nearby Asian countries. However, my big dream was to go to Europe, specifically Germany whose language I was learning, for which I had neither the money nor the opportunity. During exam times, I used to take my books to the airport to study there and wave at all the flights bound Europe asking them to prepare for my welcome. I was just playing with possibilities in my head, but very soon, this game became real when one day I won an all-expense-paid trip to Europe having written an essay for a symposium at a university in Switzerland. After Asia and Europe, I started doing foreign internships across Africa, South America, Central America, North America… and before I knew it, I became a globetrotter!

Life Is Abracadabra
  • From Asia to Europe, Africa, South America, Central & North America – a globetrotter in the real sense of the term! If you could tell our readers, in short, about your journey so far. What kept you going? 

Still in my teens, I left India having won full scholarships to study abroad in Singapore. Since then I have not just travelled but dwelled in different continents on various exchange programs, learning the language of life through myriad mirrors of reality. From Asia to Europe to Africa to South America to North & Central America, I have lived with local families, eating their food, adopting their lifestyles, contributing to their economy, inhabiting their culture, imitating their costumes, negotiating extreme realities and belief systems, navigating varied traditions and religions for several years to answer life’s most pertinent questions. Coming from a conservative family in India, I had to overcome all limitations to fly! 

I was born in Kolkata but grew up in different states of India, so it felt as if I was always in a new country. My childhood was, thus, a preparation for what was to come in adulthood. From being a computing graduate to a marketing executive to a German interpreter, English teacher, Spanish translator to now an award-winning international speaker, bestselling author, and performer, mysterious coincidences have led me from one place to another, contriving me to live out my destiny, my true legacy.

During my travels, I encountered extreme realities, life-threatening situations, and insurmountable challenges on my path; how I overcame those dire circumstances, emerging unscratched, is what makes this journey so magical! I felt that my life had found a purpose and there was some higher force protecting me, revealing the path to me, one step at a time, and all I had to do was follow that guidance, which is really what kept me going.

  • How did travel influence or change you as a person? 

The one thing that stops most people from traveling is money. But traveling is never about money. I have spent years on the road, with what money, what savings to bank on? Nil! I never even had enough for the tickets. Nonetheless, those were my best days, my fondest memories: eating poorly, sleeping in hammocks, building tents or backpacking, not comprehending local dialects, communicating through gestures and symbols, depending on others for my survival, using currencies that were mere paper to me, befriending strangers, adopting strange traditions, breaking cultural barriers, treading lonely street corners hoping I wouldn’t get mugged, getting robbed, putting my faith to test over and over again, and after all of it I discovered a totally new person within me, metamorphosed by all the treasures of the heart I had amassed over time and space; I changed countries like people change clothes. You see, traveling is not about money as much as it is a matter of will. There are two things one needs to travel, to really explore the world one is born into: tenacity and audacity.

During my foreign internships across different continents, I met other people from other countries who were also on exchange or volunteer programs, and whenever we had the opportunity or days off work, we got together and travelled in groups. We found the cheapest deals. We backpacked. We hiked and built tents. We hired cars together and did long road trips. And we had all the fun! We made bonfires and danced around it. We did snorkelling in the deep seas, climbed down waterfalls through canyons, went river rafting, hiked up flat-top mountains called tepuys, dived from rocks and waterfalls, climbed up volcanoes, swam in crater lakes, drank from spring waters, watched crystal formations in mountains, ventured into the Amazonian jungles, cooked in groups, exchanged food, shared culture and costumes, and so much more…

Honestly, you will be amazed at just how little money one needs to travel like that. I can’t even remember how much money I spent where. Doing foreign internships that paid very little, if I could do all of this then I know I spent peanuts on these adventures but created the best memories of my life. And doing this kind of traveling is not difficult at all. The easiest way is to join an exchange organization or volunteer groups that take you to a foreign land or provide travel opportunities. Then once you are there, you can explore with like-minded people or on your own. Many such organizations worldwide offer such programs to students and adults.

I learned, all by myself, how to stay healthy and safe while traveling or living abroad, how to navigate across multi-cultural boundaries, how to be a confident traveller, how to be language smart, how to manage my own expenses, how to travel at the drop of a hat on low budgets yet have a ball! Nobody had to teach me these things. I connected with strangers and saw that my culture was just one culture, one way to look at life, but not the only way or the absolute truth. Someone in Asia believes this, someone in America believes that, someone in Africa believes something else; I noticed opposites and marvelled at life’s idiosyncrasies. I found out that sometimes the nonsense makes the best sense, and discovered that what is right in one culture is wrong is another culture, what is polite in one country is rude in another country, what is respectful in one region is disrespectful in another region, what I thought was good another thought bad. Sometimes I lost my grapple of reality not knowing what to believe anymore or how to behave appropriately. Sometimes I did not know right from wrong or good from bad. Sometimes I felt alone like nobody understood me, a sense that I did not belong, because others were still holding on so strongly to their cultural beliefs while I had seen so many different cultures that I knew inherently none of it was real. We are making it all up, all the way! As I got a bite size of each culture, race, religion, tradition, ethnicity, my worldview expanded to hold more of reality in it, a grander truth, a greater vision, a larger picture of humanity. It is all different lifestyles, different belief systems created by man; one is not necessarily better or worse than another—just different! And that creates variety. I understood that my god, my belief, my religion was just one of many thought systems and that there were others with their definitions of god, their faith, their culture, their religion, their tradition, and everyone was right in their own model of the world. At the end of the day, none of it mattered really, because I internalized that what was going on within me was going on inside everyone else. I started understanding myself, the storm inside my soul suddenly started speaking to me. I stopped letting culture define me, rather I defined culture, created new beliefs when the existing was dysfunctional, breaking molds, shifting paradigms, and transcending mindsets.

  • How challenging has it been being a woman? 

Coming from a conservative background, being a young unmarried girl, I had to overcome all limiting beliefs and cultural prejudices to fly in the direction of my dreams, to tread this unconventional path. In my culture, young girls were not even allowed to go out alone, but I was inspired hence did not let that stop me. I was so young that I literally grew up in different continents of the world, and could easily discern the dysfunctional belief systems of diverse societies. As a female, my biggest concern was safety, and there was no one that could protect or accompany me on my whereabouts. Being alone on the road for several years, I had to rely on myself to keep me safe. So, naturally, my intuitions got stronger. I learned how to protect myself and often I did this in my imagination, surrounding myself with golden light, in the faith that it would protect me and it did, especially when I had to navigate extremely dangerous circumstances. There was no social media then, no google maps, no smart phones, no uber/ola, no concept of couchsurfing, no bloggers or influencers to encourage me on my path… I didn’t even have a camera or phone or laptop with me. But long before any of my travels had begun, I had read Greek poet Cavafy’s Ithaca. Two lines from that poem gave me all the courage I needed to live out this grand adventure:

“The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops,
the angry Poseidon—do not fear them.
You will never find such as these on your path
if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine
emotion touches your spirit and your body.
The Lestrygoinans and the Cyclops,
the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter
if you do not carry them within your soul
if your heart does not set them up before you…
Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.”

Yes, my heart did not have the need to set them up on my path as I did not entertain them in my thoughts; I navigated danger in my imaginations and created for myself a world without strangers! People believe, or rather are told, that the world is a scary place and they form their ideas and expectations from that mind space. But having lived all over the world in local people’s houses across diverse cultures, having trusted strangers for my survival, especially as a woman, what if I told you that the world is a friendly place? How would your model of the world look then? What would become your new beliefs and expectations? Can you trust life to have your back at all times? Because whatever you expect you will get, that is how much life is on your side!

  • If you could share a couple of your most interesting/memorable travel experiences? 

Okay, here are a couple of magical anecdotes from my travels to tease your senses. However, this is just a glimpse; you can read these tales in further detail in my new book, Life Is Abracadabra.

How Faith helped me leave Africa: During my very first month in Africa, I was robbed of all the money I had carried with me. After working there for a year and a half, and saving every month, I hadn’t even gathered half the ticket money needed to fly back home. I had to leave the place within a certain date as my foreign internship was ending and my visa expiring, but there was no conceivable possibility as to how I could pay the ticket and fly out of the continent. I simply did not have the money. Then one day, as I was taking my bucket bath before going to work, a voice within told me, “Have Faith, you will go.”

Inspired, I did something different that day only to chance encounter a strange woman a couple of hours later who gave me my tickets to leave the African continent! It was indeed a miracle. As I was taking leave of this benevolent stranger, I asked what her name was.

“Faith,” said she.
“You have a beautiful name; I’ve never met anyone with that name before,” I said and quickly turned away as I did not want her to see the tears that had already started rolling down my cheeks uncontrollably.

How I learned Spanish: This is a hilarious story from my very first days in Latin America. When I first went to South America, I did not even know ‘hello’ in Spanish. I lived with an old couple in Venezuela, who I fondly called los abuelos. Abuelo in Spanish means Grandpa and abuela, grandma. They loved me like their own daughter. Abuela cooked for me every day. She made sure I would never go hungry. And she always left food for me when I returned from work late nights, past 10pm. I remember at the beginning of my stay in their house, one night when I got home there was no food on the dining table. Abuela had already gone to bed upstairs. She heard me enter the house through the front gate and started shouting my name, “Baisaaki, Baisaaaaakiii!” I rushed upstairs to her bedroom; she told me something in Spanish that I did not understand at all. But she kept repeating one word: leche… leche… leche…! 

Whatever that means, I thought to myself. I did not want to bother her at that hour so kept nodding my head saying, “si, si, si…” as if I understood. By then I had learnt that ‘si’ meant yes! Abuela was satisfied and went back to sleep. I went downstairs and looked for this thing called leche everywhere. I knew if it was food grandma had left for me, I would surely find it! So I looked on the kitchen counter, checked the refrigerator, the gas stove, the dining table again, but I could not find anywhere this food called leche. I was tired and went to bed hungry that night.

Early next morning, abuela barged into my room while I was still asleep, woke me up and angrily demanded why I hadn’t eaten leche the previous night. Oh, so she found out I went to bed empty-stomach! I did not know what to say. I just shrugged my shoulders and uttered, “¿leche?” implying I did not understand its meaning. She grabbed my hand and dragged me downstairs. Then she opened a closet below the kitchen counter and showed me a tin can with milk powder in it. She pointed at it and said, “leche”. Next to it was a plastic container with cornflakes. Oh, so she was asking me to eat cornflakes with milk last night as they had had guests over and cooked food had finished! Finally, it all dawned on me in a very comical way that leche was milk! That is how I learned Spanish. As abuela chattered, she wanted me to listen to her. At times, she even stopped to check if I understood. If I did not, I simply nodded my head like a nincompoop uttering, “si, si, si…” indicating that I had understood so she wouldn’t cross-question me. But abuela was very smart; she always knew when I was lying! Nevertheless, it was a white lie so she pardoned me in my non-understanding and loved me anyway. And before I knew it, I was speaking Spanish like a native… never took a language class nor a grammar lesson. Today I do events and maintain a blog in Spanish.

  • There is hardly any feat in any vertical that women today have not achieved. And yet, we are quite there to call ourselves a gender-equal society. What advice you would give to women folks aspiring to reach their own passion and goal in life? 

I have one sentence to say, “Magic only happens to those who can make it real in their imaginations.” That is all! Imagining creates reality. You can create hell or heaven in your imagination, and your external reality will follow suit matching the beliefs and expectations you hold about life, about what is possible for you and what is not; it all resides in your wonderful human imagination. Do you believe in your dreams? Do you believe in your capacity to achieve them? Then you will, because whatever action you take will be inspired from that space of imagined reality where all possibilities exist or don’t exist! That is how much life loves you; it will give you exactly what you believe.  

Travellers’ World
  • Tell us about your recent book.

My new book, Life Is Abracadabra -21 magical stories from my travels to make you look at life with new eyes, is an experiential documentation of how to transcend the ordinary into extraordinary outcomes in alignment with our desires. Recently launched in India, it will make you believe in magic and miracles.

People are afraid to dream because they don’t want to be disappointed. But what if there was a way to co-create our dreams with the universe? And what if the universe responded to us in a tangible way? Can you imagine that? This book narrates the magical adventures and marvellous encounters of the ordinary girl in me who believed in extraordinary possibilities, as I traversed the globe to fulfil my destiny. 

Peppered with true anecdotes of hope and faith, of meaningful coincidences and miracles, Life Is Abracadabra will make you perceive life from an altogether new dimension. It is about noticing the signs and synchronicities strewn on our paths and acting on them. Because when we do, life will be on our side too.

Abracadabra in Hebrew means, I shall create as I speak. Literally, this book gives you a glimpse of the abracadabra moments in my life and shows how you too can find or rather “create” magic in your life, if only you’d heed the guidance of the universe on your destiny path. Read Life Is Abracadabra and discover real magic! 

Endorsed by renowned luminaries and world visionaries, it is available in all leading bookstores across India as well as on Amazon, Kindle, Flipkart, etc. To read more details about the book, including the glowing endorsements it has received, visit

Travellers’ World is a print and digital platform initiated by a group of travellers and photographers with decades of mainstream media experience. The objective is to share, discuss and evaluate the information and dynamics of the industry by the industry experts for the benefit of every individual, group or organization directly or indirectly related to the travel fraternity.

Their tag line “Follow your heart” is to inspire readers to be ‘real’ and to be free – to travel and know the world, respect and value nature.

Author: boi

Hi, I am a storyteller; I tell real stories about real people to fictitious characters!

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