Jamshyd Sethna, founder of Shakti—a luxury homestay company specializing in village walks in the Indian Himalayas—shares the places, rituals, and souvenirs that reveal his travel style.
Let’s play spin the globe—name the one place you’ve always wanted to go.
What’s your spirit city? (Where do you want to return to over and over?)
Do you have a travel ritual?
I check that I have all essentials in my briefcase several times and ensure that I check in at airports well on time.
Do you maintain any routines from home while traveling or does it all go out the window?
I’m afraid it all goes out of the window.
Sorry, you only get to eat one regional cuisine for the rest of your life. What is it?
Indian, especially from the West Coast.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone traveling abroad for the first time?
Don’t brush your teeth with the tap water.
Describe your travel personality in three words.
Observant, passionate, grumpy. Are your trips very planned, or very spontaneous?
Planned—restaurants, meetings, social—but with room for spontaneity.
What’s the one travel souvenir you’d save in a fire?
I’m not a souvenir person but would more than likely save my coffee beans. I buy them from Markus Coffee on Connaught Street in London—a blend of Regent and Negresco.
What book/movie most inspired you to travel?
The Road to Oxiana by Robert Byron was one that had an impact on how I traveled. And the movie Woodstock; I couldn’t believe all that was happening without me there!
Who’s your ideal travel partner?
Which travel experience do you prefer: plugged in or unplugged?
In reality, plugged in.
What’s a custom from another culture that you’d love to implement in your life back home?
New Zealand’s Haka, a custom of the Maori people. The spectacle involves menacing facial expressions, grunting, guttural howling, loud chanting, stomping, clapping, chest thumping, and tongue wagging intended to strike awe and fear into the tribe’s opponents. Useful negotiation tool.
What’s the first thing you seek out in a new place?
Local restaurants and bars suggested by friends.
What’s the one thing you indulge in on a trip that you don’t at home?
A great steak.
What’s your first travel memory?
Going to visit my grandparents in Deolali (a hill station in Western India, pronounced ‘doo-la-lee’ by the British, and from where the phrase ‘gone doolally’ came from), aged three, sticking out my head from a train compartment and getting soot in my eye.