Way back in 2015, Ing-Marie was interviewed by a travel website about her work with Expeditions India. Since the interview never got published, we are printing it for the first time here, so that you get to know our Communications person a bit more. (It’s also been updated, as a lot has happened in the last four years!)
1. You’re a foreigner running kayaking trips in India. Rewind! Tell us how this happened.
I stumbled across water sports. In the past I’ve preferred land-based adventures, particularly distance running, trekking, or triathlons. But a few years ago, I fell in love with Anvesh, the founder of Expeditions India. He’s a keen kayaker and rafter, and I started to see through his eyes all the beauties that rivers hold. I enjoy rafting, especially on Ganga in Rishikesh, and have tried whitewater kayaking, which was fun even though I was miserable at it. Fast forward: Anvesh and I got married, and now I run the Communications for the company. Right now, though, we have a young baby at home, so I haven’t gotten onto the water much. (Does bath time count?)
2. What are some of the challenges you face in your job—take this any direction you want, whether you want to talk about the issues with being a foreign female, or problems because of a lack of industry regulation, difficulties getting equipment or trained personnel…whatever jumps out at you when you think of the problems you encounter day to day.
One of the latest challenges for me is striking a balance of personal and professional. When you run a company with your husband, it’s important to set boundaries so that work doesn’t consume you both.
3. One of the most thrilling parts about your chosen work is the people you encounter—any memorable incidents / anecdotes from your kayaking and adventure travels around India?
Two distinct memories come to mind. I’ll never forget the first time Anvesh took me rafting – I got to see him in his element, but we were also put to the test! We had just started dating and we went for a trip on the Ganga. His clients filled the rafts, so the two of us climbed into a tiny 8-foot raft and went down separately. It felt like riding a yellow rubber ducky down the big waters of the Ganga. I got tossed out so many times, and even he fell in when our raft flipped. I was impressed that our relationship survived that.
The second memory was the first year of the Malabar River Festival, where we volunteered. By the end of the three days, all of the volunteers were soaking wet from the monsoon, completely exhausted, and closer friends than you could imagine! The kayaking community is unbelievably welcoming and contains some incredible individuals.
4. Tell us a bit more about you if not covered in 1: what’s the game plan—is this your life for the foreseeable future? Is this en route to another adventure? How do you think about this India episode in the broader context of your life?
I’ve felt really fortunate to call India home for over a decade, and feel more connected to it now than ever. I don’t think of India as an “episode”. It is my life now and I am grateful for that. My relationship with the company has also changed – I really enjoy helping to connect people to the outdoors. I love trying to find ways to get more folks on the river, like offering discounts to women during the month of March, for International Women’s Day.
5. What are the 3 places in India that you think should be on everyone’s bucket list?
That’s a difficult question! If people haven’t visited the South (particularly Tamil Nadu), that should be in the top three. Ladakh is a must and Uttarakhand, of course. My own bucket list includes: Kutch, Udaipur, and pretty much all of the NE.
6. Anything else that you want to talk about that isn’t covered above?
I believe that the more that people get outdoors and are inspired by nature, the more this will translate into a strong environmental ethic in those people. This is my underlying motivation in getting folks out of the cities and onto the river. Especially kids! Put simply, I believe people will work to conserve the things that we love. With India’s environmental condition as it is (especially the sad state of many of its waterways), the more people who deeply care about the outdoors, the better.