Driving To Deliver Your Business

This rolling truck gathers travellers

Way back in 2010, Kunzum Travel Cafe’s friendly pay-what-you-like-for-coffee-and-cookies policy prompted The Delhi Walla to say on his blog that he wondered when it would “end its infantile innocence and set a price to its coffee”. That was the year the cafe opened and, today, seven years later, the policy hasn’t changed. The cafe

With its easy vibe (the moras and the friendly staff), it has become the hub of all kinds of activity: a free drumming class, a sponsored event on travel photography, a stand-up show. It’s a place you meet fellow Delhi-ites and people passing through. It helps that it sits right in the midst of the city’s artsy Hauz Khas Village, where 1960s movie prints and vintage jewellery mix with the hottest eateries.

“It’s a sort of subculture,” says Ajay Jain, the founder, acknowledging that, while the aim was to establish a gallery to sell his prints of photographs, it has now evolved into much more, with events three or four times a week. “The guests take ownership of the space and, if someone has the budget, they pay us; if they don’t, we let them use it anyway,” he says. Brands pay for the audience Kunzum engages with: people interested in the travel experience.

The person

Jain, bubbling with ideas, travel plans and energy, sits down in the space he created to tell his story: of a person who started out as an engineer, went on to do his MBA, worked for five years in the IT industry (“on the hardware side,” he clarifies), and ended up in a sports management company. In 2001, at 31, he quit, went to the UK to study journalism and returned to work with a leading newspaper. Probably because he had an entrepreneurial streak and because the word ‘start-up’ was not a career option then, he began a youth newspaper, where he trained students in the tools of journalism.

It didn’t work financially, so he started a tech blog. One morning in 2007, in a “wake-up moment”, he decided he wanted to be a travel journalist, writing about India, and telling the world about the country, “beyond the golden triangle, Goa, poverty, cows, and Kerala”. He started with the blog, Kunzum.com, a name derived from his first journey to Spiti Valley in Himachal Pradesh.

His wife and he thought they were lost because they hadn’t seen anyone for hours and the terrain was challenging. Suddenly, they came to a spot 15,000 ft above sea level, called Kunzum La.

“It was the most beautiful spot I’d ever stood at, desolate and stunning, with cold winds blowing. I realised I was on the right path,” he says.

And so began the journey of Kunzum that year. The journey After eight travel books in print, 50 e-books, and many events, Jain decided to tell the Indian story to Indians, because “not many people know about the Bikaner Camel Fair or that, in Bera, leopards roam free.” But he felt there was still a missing piece.

One afternoon it came to him: he decided to do a travel truck. The company has invested in a nine-seater Force Traveller, with a business-class experience (WiFi, mood lighting, chargers, unlimited munchies, toiletry bag, Kunzum radio with travel-related content).

“We have started curating trips for experiences you wouldn’t normally have, led by experts you wouldn’t usually encounter,” he says. On a trip to Jaipur, his group stayed at Khas Bagh, where the owners, who have been polo players for generations, spoke to guests of the intricacies of the game, taking them through old photographs and showing them the stables.

They discovered wildlife in the heart of the city (there’s a sanctuary in Jaipur) and visited some of the country’s best cafes (Curious Life Coffee Roasters, Dzurt), ending the day at Once Upon a Time in the Nahargarh Fort, where they sat and watched the city lights come on. 5 Trippy holidays * Meeting the vanishing tribes of Nagaland at the Hornbill festival and living in the village with them

* Plucking and crushing apples in Himachal Pradesh * Photographing life at the Pushkar Camel Fair with a lifestyle photographer * Lunching at The Recycle Cafe, just an hour away from Delhi

* Networking at Shekhawati with other women entrepreneurs

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