A dream that took birth in the mind of a 20-year-old is now whirling with joy in the name of Kattadi, an inclusive nomadic community for all those who are passionate about travelling.
Kozhikode native Haneen Yousuf, a second year degree student in Farook College, is an ardent traveller and photographer, who has always wanted to do something that involves his passion.
It was an idea that blossomed during a community trip organised by the Kozhikode-based NGO ILab, which Haneen had attended. He decided that he should not wait any more to start such a community that he had been dreaming for a while.
“After coming back from the trip, I decided to start one right away and approached two friends of mine. They agreed and in no time, we planned our first trip to Nilambur,” Haneen says.
Within a year of forming the community, these backpackers have toured to more than 11 places, including famous destinations in northern India such as Punjab, Rajasthan etc.
“We organise one or two trips every month and the destinations suggested by our members. Once we choose the destination, the one who suggested is selected as the leader,” he adds.
A unique feature about Kattadi is their meagre travelling cost. They prefer to sleep in tents and travel overnight in buses to avoid unnecessary expenses.
“Our trips to various destinations in Kerala as well as those to Ooty and Mysore didn’t cost more than Rs 600 per person. We have a financial coordinator to take care of it,” he says.
He also despises the girls-only camps organised by various travel agencies across Kerala, which are very common nowadays. He is concerned because if it becomes a trend, society will continue to question girls and boys who travel together. He is of the opinion that group trips promote the possibility of maintaining a healthy relationship between them rather than travelling with their same gender group.
“I didn’t travel much earlier. We are like a family now and it doesn’t feel like we are a group of girls and boys. A lot of the group members say that it is not safe to travel like this, but I think you will never know if it is safe or not unless you haven't gone and experienced it. Our safety is our responsibility,” C.H. Fathima, one of the girl members adds.
A potpourri of young people from all walks of life, like singers, photographers, writers and artists, this power-packed touring tribe doesn’t travel to seek pleasure for themselves. They also find joy in interacting with the natives of the places they visit, providing community services etc.
“All our journeys so far have happened from decisions taken at the last moment. So, we don’t have bucket list destinations as such. But we are planning to take differently abled kids to somewhere nice and help them experience the adrenaline rush we are having,” Haneen concludes.