#13 - Rohit Wadwhani | Embracing Freedom - A Life Redefined by working with Baby Chimps, Minimalism, and Overcoming Fear
🗓️ Recorded March 9th, 2023. 📍Garrufo, Provincia di Teramo, Italy
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About this Episode
What if you could form a connection so deep with an animal that it changes your entire perspective on life?
Our friend Rohit Wadhwani joins us to share his incredible journey working with animals at Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Sierra Leone, where he raised a baby chimp named Flavor and formed a bond like no other.
Rohit's story is a testament to the profound impact animals can have on our lives and the incredible connections we can make with them.
In this heartwarming conversation, we explore Rohit's journey of giving back through volunteering and how it led him to a life of minimalist living and joy.
Rohit also shares how his upbringing has inspired him to help others.
Finally, Rohit opens up about facing fears and embracing freedom as he shares his experience of overcoming childhood fears and applying the same approach to his adult life.
In this podcast episode, you will learn how taking risks and stepping out of our comfort zones can lead to personal growth and even greater opportunities.
From volunteering for bird conservation to learning AI in European hubs, Rohit's story is an inspiration for us all to take action and follow our dreams.
The adventure is the people. This is what we tell people when they ask about our travels. And one of our biggest interpersonal adventures has been meeting Rohit, who has traveled the world, working for NGOs and helped save migrating birds as a human shield against hunters on Malta, caring for a baby chimp in Sierra Leona, and working with wolves in Scotland. Besides this - he is a wonderful human being who has inspired us on many levels.
Now it is time for you to meet Rohit and hopefully be inspired.
Connect with Rohit
If you work with an NGO and need some AI work, then you can reach out to Rohit at http://toraktech.com/
Clips from this episode
The Ultimate Advice for Starting a New Life Abroad: Rohit's #1 Tip
Transcript of Episode 13 of The Podcast Self Directed. Hosted by Cecilie and Jesper Conrad.
E13 - Life-Changing Bonds: Rohit Wadhwani's Journey with Chimpanzees, Minimalism, and Embracing Freedom
Please note: This transcript is autogenerated by AI voice recognition - so there will probably be some transcription errors along the way 🙂
Jesper Conrad: Rohit, please first your last name, so I don't say it's stupid.
Rohit Wadhwani: Let me see, I just said once and let's see if you can say it off the land.
Jesper Conrad: Yes, it's Wadwadi.
Rohit Wadhwani: Wadwadi.
Jesper Conrad: It's not hard, wadwadi, okay okay, we will start now.
Jesper Conrad: I think we should keep this part of this thing. So we're here together with our friend, rohit Wadwadi, and the thing is, when we talk about our travels, one of the things we often say is that the adventure is the people. And you, rohit, has been one of the big adventures for us and I find that when I talk to people about our travels and the people we meet, you're one of the persons I talk about and I tell them your story about how we met this guy living on animal sanctuary in a small camper and how you have just blown us away with some of the life choices you have made. They can find where we're inspiring.
Rohit Wadhwani: Interesting Okay please specify that as well.
Cecilie Conrad: No, but the story goes, we really did become friends. Like really fast and really with a lot of love in this all of the relations.
Jesper Conrad: And I can talk for a long time about how you inspire me, but there's some of the stories we retell, is you know? oh, then we met this guy, Rohit, and yeah, well, then at some point he worked with chimps and Sierra Leone. So let's start there. How did that come to your life? being an Indian boy, born in Kuwait, moved to the UK, then, through the UK, how did you end up in Sierra Leone?
Rohit Wadhwani: Well, yeah, sierra Leone was. I was looking for a life-changing experience when I was in the UK and Sierra Leone certainly was a life-changing experience. I ended up there because my ex-partner had a project and I've always been interested in trying out new places. So when she decided to go there to work with children, i decided to follow her and go there and find work, and I've always been volunteering with animals for I don't know the last 10, 12 years. So anywhere I work, i always try to find some animal sanctuary or have some contact with animals.
Rohit Wadhwani: It's sort of like a. It's a big passion of mine, but it doesn't pay me enough to live the life that I would like that I choose to, so I keep it as a side hobby and stick with volunteering. So when I got to Sierra Leone I was looking for a place where I could volunteer, and close to the capital free town is this animal sanctuary, which is it's called Takugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary. It's the number one tourist attraction in Sierra Leone, even though there is not much competition, but the beaches are like amazing, the people are great, but the whole place is mind blowing. It completely defeats it completely, sort of destroys its reputation of being a warthrone West African country full of diamonds and whatnot, all the negative press that goes with it. It's a wonderful country. It's very different, but it's wonderful.
Rohit Wadhwani: And so, yeah, i decided to find a place where I could volunteer with animals. I met the owner of the founder of the sanctuary and he was more than happy for me to come in Because my background is in IT. He was happy for me to come and help out with the IT side of things of the sanctuary, but that's just an excuse to put my foot through the door. After that I was like all over the baby James and I was just like playing with the James and, yeah, forget the IT stuff. I was like playing with raising. I spent one year every Sunday, from about seven in the morning till five in the evening and looking after a little baby chimp. And, yeah, that's how I spent my Sundays for a year and watched that chimp grow. So, yeah, i don't know what IT stuff I did there, but how is the connection?
Jesper Conrad: you get with a baby chimp? Is it like close to a human baby? How was it?
Rohit Wadhwani: Yeah, i don't have any kids, so I think it's the closest people. From what friends tell me about the connection with kids, it's the closest thing I could have experienced to having a child, because the one that I was given the responsibility of his name is Flavor. He would fit from the tip of my middle finger till just under my elbow joint, so he was quite a small chimp And then completely helpless. Every time I went close to the chimp he was super happy because he had body human contact And every time I left in the evening he would absolutely howl in pain. There was screaming which was shriek. It was like the humans aren't evolved to ever get used to that sort of noise. So it was always a Sunday afternoon. Going back was like the worst for him and for me.
Rohit Wadhwani: And then watching, and the chimps grow a lot faster than human babies, so watching the behavior grow, how he became more confident and sort of. You know you would communicate without words And I think that was just through the feeling And I think you guys, being parents, you know that better than anyone. So I think it was. It's the closest thing. I think I would have had to and I worked with different animals I worked with, like wolves and yeah, all the different sort of mammals species, quite a few mammals species, but the. You know there's a reason why chimps are the closest to humans. They transmit a lot of, they exhibit a lot of human behavior. So it was one. Just looking into the eyes of a chimps, yeah, fantastic.
Cecilie Conrad: Do you still have contact?
Rohit Wadhwani: Yeah, i get updates of how he's doing. No, i don't have his direct light. You know how teenage kids are. Even they don't want to talk like that. They just these rebels.
Cecilie Conrad: So that's not even true. It's a mainstream joke, but actually we have a lot of stereotypes in our family and they do respond. Yeah, depends on the teenage generation. But yeah, it was fun. It was a fun joke.
Jesper Conrad: But you're not just going to get to slide over the wolves part, because that's one of the stories we tell about you also. It's like, yeah, so he worked with these chimps, but then he actually also took care of some baby wolves at some point. So where?
Rohit Wadhwani: were you.
Jesper Conrad: How did that happen?
Rohit Wadhwani: So that was before Sierra Leone, when I was in the UK And I would have loved to take care of baby wolves but I wasn't being careful, like it was a three year old wolf, a two and a half year old wolf, so that's by that point they're fairly grown and they have a sharp enough teeth to rip you up. So yeah, that was again. I was near. I was working for Ben's Water And the biggest water company in the UK, and I was just and close to that is that in the sanctuary. It was like half an hour, 40 minute drive from there near Redding in the UK And again just searching for a place to work with animals, found this place and it was wonderful because when I walked in for I applied to become a volunteer, when I walked in for the interview, they were like, well, we don't select the volunteers, the wolves select the volunteers.
Rohit Wadhwani: So your first interview is you just go into the enclosure with wolves, of course surrounded by experienced wolf handlers, and the wolves just come and size you up. They need to see how you respond to like. The wolf handlers want to see how you respond to fear, because the wolves will try to dominate, they will lie you up. They're like big dogs, they're a bit wary around you And but fortunately that morning, just by chance, i'd had like an egg sandwich, so my breath had enough egg sort of smell of egg to melt any wolf And also I put some those those were the days of putting like her gel as well.
Rohit Wadhwani: So the wolf, like there was three wolves, and one of them was enchanted by the smell of the egg, the other one was curious by the smell of the hair gel And the third one was just curious, like confused by the behavior of the other two. So the wolves just accepted me straight away And I was Yeah, go on.
Cecilie Conrad: I think it must have been something completely different. It's a good story. I think the wolves just like it, because you're very likeable.
Rohit Wadhwani: Well, i think, i think you truly think it was the answer.
Rohit Wadhwani: Well, i mean, yeah, i think one of them was like close to my mouth, the other one was like close to my head. I mean it was too close to my head because the first experience I ever had was like a wolf mouth, like a wrapper on my head, and I was just like I was looking at this senior wolf and I was like this isn't normal, you know. But they're like, no, no, it's OK. The body language, the tail of the wolf and the body language is like he wants to play with you, he's like approaching you to be friendly. And I was like, well, this is a friendly approach. So I mean, i didn't panic at the time.
Rohit Wadhwani: There was something like I like to think quite intuitive, like to believe that I'm quite, sometimes I'm quite connected with my intuition. So my intuition was just like just be strong, just be OK, just stand straight and you're fine. And I think that was partly also what the wolves And the wolf handlers saw that he's not someone who can be easily dominated or intimidated, because the wolves they always have, like in the families, they have the ranking system, They always start to one up each other, the males. So that was important as well. As a wolf handler note to be you sort of put a wolf back in its place, even though it's got sharp teeth and whatever. So I think that was part of the thing as well.
Cecilie Conrad: But, eggs.
Rohit Wadhwani: Handlers for sure, help for sure.
Cecilie Conrad: OK, well, I'll note that if they ever need to apply for a wolf handler job. eggs handlers, Yeah.
Rohit Wadhwani: Some sort of meat in your pocket.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, but how did it start, kohid? I asked you about that once and you told about your childhood, where you had a kid in the school that needed help and special care. that it might was from back then.
Rohit Wadhwani: Yeah, i don't know. I think as a child I was always interested in. I always followed. Something that satisfied me the most was, i don't know, offering something to others as well, but sincerely not helping someone just for the sake of it, but enjoyed helping. I think it was my upbringing as well. My parents are very open people. They always had guests around and I always enjoyed how much they I always noted how much they enjoyed hosting for them. I think that's like my grandmother as well. The more I learned about my family, my grandfathers and stuff.
Rohit Wadhwani: I was quite lucky to be brought up in a family where giving was considered a form of pure joy. True happiness was when you sincerely just open your doors and no matter who it is they're welcome in. So I think when I became a little bit and then when I went to school, it was the same thing. You know, you sometimes reflect things from home and it was a very strong presence of giving in my family and I was doing that in school. And, yeah, i sat next to this guy who was the only special needs guy in school And I thought initially I was like I was a bully in school. Right, i was bullying kids at one stage. So I was bullying this guy as well. And then the teacher said to me hey, this is not home, this is too, you can play around.
Rohit Wadhwani: I was in a bully in the case of like I would beat people up or something And I would certainly exert some sort of dominance, and within limits, you know. And people would say that I guess. But the teacher said to me look this guy's, you know. You know, this guy has to be careful. And then I don't know what flicked in me And I sat next to him in class for three months And I saw that he really needed some help. And from that day on, for three years, i was with him in every class And even when I didn't want to sit with him, if I changed my seat he would start crying because he was just like no, i want to be next to him Because he was helped to me.
Rohit Wadhwani: So sometimes it was like I want to sit next to some hot girl, you know, but I couldn't. And even if I did, for some time I would feel like, no, i want to be next to you, next to you, richard, his name. I wonder where he is now. Yeah, when I went back to India. This time I was trying to find where if I could reconnect with him, anyway. So that's the story. So that's how I started. I think, yeah. And then at home, it's always giving me the best form of staying content and smiling. It's only a few times I've seen my entire family beaming, smiles and joy pouring out of their hearts is when all of them are giving very lucky to be brought into such a family.
Jesper Conrad: That's very fascinating actually. It reminds me of we in our life. We just met up with a Danish young couple who was biking from the south of part of Sicily to Copenhagen And we were a little social hungry. So Cecilia arranged that, hey, why don't you come and stay with us? And they cannot be in the van. So we rented an Airbnb And there was like hey, can we help? Should we pay somehow? And I said to them you should not take away the joy of the giver by saying no. You should say yes if people want to help you, and then it's actually a great, great present to give for the giver. So I like that a lot. What does it mean? Race there?
Cecilie Conrad: But I think you, my friend, is a. I mean you're the shining light of living a life based on this giving. But you are Most people. Some people do volunteer now and then And they throw a party and they give to charity, but I mean how I hear your story and how I've lived close to you and several times in Spain, that's what you do. I mean many people go for the big house and the nice career and the nice car and the stable life, but I see you changing your I don't know plan all the time.
Rohit Wadhwani: I mean, I have nothing.
Cecilie Conrad: It's probably from the continents and countries and contexts, and it's all about charity and giving and helping and sharing.
Rohit Wadhwani: So in that respect, Yeah, i don't know, i don't see anything. Nothing else seems to satisfy me as much as well. I've had jobs. I've worked in the oil and gas industry the evil oil and gas industry, where I come out with people who are like there's one I don't know if I've mentioned the story to you, but I knew someone. His last name was Ferrari, so he went and bought a Ferrari, so it was that sort of level of wealth and the people talking about like the 100 pound shirts and you can't spill water on it because it's 100 pounds. So I did. I have lived that.
Rohit Wadhwani: When I was in my early 20s, with the cultural upbringing that I had back in India, a lot of emphasis was placed on, rightly so. I mean, it's a developing country, there's lots of poor people, so to get out of poverty, to get some level of comfort, you need money, and so when I was, i was confusing that a little bit with what my, i guess what really made me happy. I didn't have the balls, maybe, or I didn't have the courage. I don't know if language should.
Jesper Conrad: Language is good.
Rohit Wadhwani: So what changed? Yeah, i lived that life in Scotland for a few years of trying to earn some money and I was having those 100 pound shirts which really didn't fulfill anything. It just felt like. It felt suffocating. You know, i had to wear a tie at that time. It was like oh my god.
Rohit Wadhwani: It was like, oh my god, this fucking noose around my neck, you know, i felt trapped and I felt my conversations weren't going anywhere. I was having, i was getting drunk on weekends just to escape the monotony of the week, and so I guess, when I was volunteering, i was truly happy. And then at some point I just realized because even in Scotland, i was working with links and work with the links. So that's where I was truly happy And I was like, why don't I just follow this, without telling my parents, without telling anyone, i just slowly diverted towards volunteering and then working with NGOs and changing my lifestyle a little bit, and then eventually told my parents hey, by the way, my whole wardrobe is 100 pounds now, not just a shirt, including the bag possessions Exactly.
Jesper Conrad: But now I'm happy.
Cecilie Conrad: That's another fascinating element, if we are discussing your personal personality, that you have this minimalism. You can actually throw all of your possessions into a quite small backpack and go, and I discussed this morning. You know we can talk to you for hours with your friends, but what would be like the interesting thing And I really struggle with that We live in our van and I think we have a lot of stuff, and we do have a lot of stuff.
Jesper Conrad: And.
Cecilie Conrad: I was just wondering if it is. Did you make a choice at some point to not possess, or are you more like the natural minimalist?
Rohit Wadhwani: Yeah, i think I'm a natural minimalist And I think you can't. We can't really compare our situations. You know you're not trying to know.
Cecilie Conrad: Let's forget about the comparison It's not interesting. No, but, what is interesting is how I mean it is quite extreme And some people make full Instagram profile on the 59 objects they own and talk about it for hours and write a book.
Jesper Conrad: And you have 15.
Cecilie Conrad: And you have like 15 objects and you don't care about it. So I was just wondering how did that? I mean? why don't you go buy 10 coffee cups and some books, and a pair of I don't know a skateboard or I mean what? it's very different from most people's lives.
Rohit Wadhwani: Yeah, it is. it is You're right. I think it's a consequence of moving around.
Cecilie Conrad: What about a sofa? Yeah it comes with a flat, i don't know.
Rohit Wadhwani: I feel like such you buy things, you go, you buy something, you pick it up, you bring it home, you look at it and then the novelty is gone for me. You look at it twice, you look at it three times and then the novelty is gone. I feel so much happier sitting on a patch of grass than sitting on a, then going and buying a fancy. Of course, fancy sofas can be very comfortable as well.
Rohit Wadhwani: But so kind of patch Objects. I've never really it doesn't really capture, my has never captured. I think it's really connected with my desire to work with animals. It pins out so much and being out camping and things you know with, with, with two t-shirts and one pair, two pairs of trousers for four days And you just realize that, oh, you don't really actually need those many things And it's one pair of trousers to me.
Rohit Wadhwani: Yeah, and I think it's also like you know, because I've lived that, you know, buying the hundred-town shirts, like I said, and also I mean in that era I also went to in that phase of my life I also went to like Vegas and spent $600 one night, you know, in the casinos And then I genuinely felt that I've emptied myself of of objects. I feel like it doesn't. I don't have the same desire Like I spent that evening, when I was clearly remember this so vividly, when I lost the $600 in a few hours in Las Vegas, i was actually genuinely happy. I was, I felt lighter, i suddenly felt I didn't have to pretend that I want things. I was like now I've spent this, i've got it, i've done it. I've emptied myself of this. Of course I have the, i have desires, of course, but this desire to buy a I have a nice car, this desire to have a nice place, whatever, like I even buy secondhand books. I rarely buy new books, you know. So this this shiny object desire, has just been.
Rohit Wadhwani: I think I've spent so much in my youth, not so much, but I've spent enough to empty myself of that desire And I don't know where it comes from. Maybe maybe being connected to nature from an early age, and also when you're growing up in India, you see that subconsciously, you see the difference. You know the poverty is in front of your eyes And that does play a big part. When you see someone who's just a child, just your age, who's got just a shirt on his back and who's fixing shoes, you know and you are just, you just happen to be born in a different place, so you've got three pairs of shoes that you need fixing. You know, and that's it. It's just pure luck that I was born in a great family. So I think that subconsciously also became more conscious when I was working with animals and whatever charity stuff, without realizing.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, that's one thing that have fascinated me a lot with you, rohit, and I know from your end it feels like a lot of things for Rohit. I hope you will enjoy it. But it's for me also to say thank you for all the inspiration as having you as a friend. I remember one day we met and you was like, no, i think I will quit my job. And I was like, but you work this awesome job for MSF, medical Science Frontiers. And it's like, yeah, but I don't feel like working this summer. It's like no, no, i would rather hang out on the beach or go to the mountains.
Jesper Conrad: And for me that was that was just like what Can you? can you actually just not wanting to work? Because I come from a place where I've been even before having a family and being responsible for all these kids and being the breadwinner and stuff. I come from a place where, but you need a job, you need to go to work and that's what you do in life. So for me, meeting you taking that steps multiple times in your life, i know has been a big inspiration. But how come you feel okay about it, just not wanting to work?
Rohit Wadhwani: It's actually I was just speaking about this, maybe four weeks or five weeks ago, to a friend about the fear of the dark And I'll tie that now. I'll come back as I will tell you how it's connected to your question. But I think I was like six years old. I remember vividly we used to have like family cinema nights. So you know all of all the me, my sister, my parents would lock ourselves in one room watch. The rest of the house would be pitch black And we just like get popcorn, watch a film Wasn't weekly thing, was a monthly thing, but yeah, we'd see the more.
Rohit Wadhwani: And I and everyone in the family knew I was scared of the dark. So purposely, my sister would leave something in the other room, she'd like go get it. And of course my mom and dad would join in. They'd like or would go get it. And this is like a six year old boy, you know, breaking himself, yeah, but I mean this is this. Yeah, for me it was horrible, but for them it was. They saw a different side of it And this happened like a few times And I remember distinctly once I knew this would happen.
Rohit Wadhwani: I would sometimes dread film lights at the start And I knew this would happen. So I was just taking a few deep breaths And my sister said I forgot something. I was like oh, and I just said okay, and I went and I was like in my mind, i was like okay, what am I actually scared of? You know? because there's nothing in the dark. It's my flat, it's my room, i know where. Every centimeter of that room is just my imagination That's driving up the fear. So at that age I remember it's six I was sitting, i was standing in the room, at six years of age, in the dark, and I'm like okay, are they monsters here? If they are, come and get me, You know. And I was like sitting, standing in front of my fears, breathing, and say I'm not. Why am I scared of the dark? I'm not, i shouldn't be scared of the dark, there's nothing to fear. So I'm scared of my thoughts, that's it. And I think it comes back. And since then it's just been a case of every time I get scared. Of course that in many moments I get scared and I have any time to process the fear, but it comes down to that same repetition of that same cycle is like okay, what am I actually scared of? Am I actually scared of the situation or am I scared of what the thought, what I think the situation could be? you know, and the job is the same thing is like if you quit your job, you might.
Rohit Wadhwani: I had money in the bank to pay rent for some time. I have enough now. I've got enough ability, confidence in my abilities. I can land the job. I have skills to offer. I have enough contacts that can give me some work to make.
Rohit Wadhwani: I'm not, i'm not going back to the minimal thing. I don't need a lot of money to keep me going. So all the bases are covered. The rest is just a fear, or society fear, or your own fears, your cultural fears that, oh shit, i don't have a job, shit. But no, i've got four, six months rent covered. What else do I need? That's it. And I have the beach. I've got friends And even if I don't have, if I really fall short, i'm not. I'm not shy to ask for help. You know it's okay. I help people, people help me. I have friends like you guys with with hearts that are enormous, that I know that I can call any time of the day and night for any emergency, and I know you'll do your best. So what is there to fear? you know and and I think I've done that so many like quit jobs so many times, change jobs so many times that that that whole job thing doesn't hold any fear anymore.
Cecilie Conrad: I think the the scared of the dark story within this story is very much in line with your problem with quitting job.
Jesper Conrad: Oh yeah.
Cecilie Conrad: It's not so much about the money.
Jesper Conrad: No.
Cecilie Conrad: It's more the darkness, the oh. But if I don't have a job to do, then what am I doing and who am I? and can I? what's the purpose of it all? I think it's just as much. Your question about the quitting job thing is not just how do you trust in life, or did you have enough money in the bank to do it? It's also the idea of not working is like your idea of the dark for him. I'm not working for you. It's like kind of a darkness for you How to not work.
Jesper Conrad: And that's where I admire you so much. He did you to me seems like a person who know who he is and don't need a job to to be who you are. Where I have been schooled inside, the, the going to work and it's part of me have in the earlier years. Now it has changed, but I built part of my self esteem on on the jobs I had And when we then pulled the plug and started traveling, the reason it was a big red bus that look good on pictures, so it was like show to people I have it on a small car, see what I have to kind of to help me build up my self esteem, which is, on some weird level, somehow low. But on the same time I'm like also getting used to just being who. I am Very happy watching the flowers, feeding animals if I meet them, and doing my morning yoga And being a father and not having a career anymore. Is is being more and more freeing and and seeing you taking these It's it's you.
Cecilie Conrad: Shocking steps.
Jesper Conrad: It was shocking steps in the in the start, but I just you kept doing is like, yeah, i worked for four months, but then, you know, i I felt like not working for some time. And I'm at that state now. I'm like I feel like not working for some time.
Rohit Wadhwani: So thank you. Yeah, i mean, i think you Sorry.
Jesper Conrad: I was the fly.
Cecilie Conrad: Really this, you know, distracting.
Jesper Conrad: Sorry.
Rohit Wadhwani: Yeah, where are you guys? like tell me a little bit about you guys. I know this is whatever, but I want to know a bit about you guys.
Jesper Conrad: So you are in Sicily.
Cecilie Conrad: Well, we're not in Italy, in Sicily anymore. We spend 11 weeks in Sicily and we drove to mainland. Italy to three five days ago, we, a few days ago, we crossed the countries we drove from West to East.
Jesper Conrad: It was raining on the website.
Cecilie Conrad: And then there was snow And then it was a lot of down. It was very interesting, but now we're in, i don't even know where we are.
Jesper Conrad: No, but we need it. BNB for some days and we can watch the mountains and it's nice.
Rohit Wadhwani: It's somewhere on what's the name The cough If you look at the boot we're on the cough. Okay.
Cecilie Conrad: We were at the coast, but then we found an Airbnb somewhere in the mountains and I don't even know where it is. We came yesterday and more or less we've been washing clothes and cooking and working and I haven't even been out of the gate.
Jesper Conrad: No.
Cecilie Conrad: Tomorrow we will go. I have been out of the gate and I've seen the mountains with snow on top and we will go walk the mountain.
Jesper Conrad: The thing is I checked Google map on set place is a short week in Venice because we have visited Venice once. But we want to see how is it to live in Venice And it's super expensive to rent something there. So we rent something for five days And that's that must be our Venice experience. Yeah, it's not, but there's four and a half hours only on Google Maps, and after we are finished here, we have a week to cover four and a half hours of driving. So we will just, yeah, we can do it, we can do it.
Rohit Wadhwani: I think you can push the guy. Yeah, we could push for it.
Cecilie Conrad: But we are going up. I think we're going back up into the mountains because the kids really want to enjoy the snow. Yeah, and we can do that for a while, and then, on the way to Venice, there is a gavina, which is another allegedly for it.
Jesper Conrad: In top night I did.
Cecilie Conrad: There is a great art museum and then there's a mosaics that we really want to see. So, that's how the music. Yeah, we just. You know some of the journey is living the life than some of it.
Cecilie Conrad: Actually, this mosaic thing is from. I read a book with pure cartoon Mickey Mouse style And and it was featured these mosaics, and I was like if they're in this cartoon they must be kind of famous. And then I started reading about them and they are kind of famous and amazing. So now I want to go see them in real life. And it's just on the way to Venice, yeah, yeah. And then you're talking about.
Rohit Wadhwani: You're talking about. You're talking about like, oh, what are the things I've done about, you know, to inspire you guys, or the choices I've made? But I mean, what you guys are living is not half bad, is it really?
Jesper Conrad: No, it's okay, It's okay, it's amazing, But you can still surprise me, Rohit. I remember the last time we were together in person, Something slipped out about your time on Malta and I was like so wait, he have worked with Wolf. He have worked with baby chimps. I know him because he lived in an animal sanctuary where our buses parked next to it. We have been together watching donkeys being born and we are both really good friends with the people that don't get. But then you're like oh yeah, that was on Malta as a human shield, So you need to tell that story.
Rohit Wadhwani: That was the time I was volunteering for BirdLife Malta. So it was again one of those work sabbaticals that took six months of work And I was volunteering for an organization called BirdLife. So I went to Indonesia, myanmar and Malta to work with BirdLife And I spent three months in Malta, on the little island, which is a really important migratory stop for the birds, both during the summer and winter, the different seasons, the birds going south and the migration, and then again Malta is a stopping point And again going up north to Europe as well, so they stop there for food and water or whatever you know like to recharge. So Malta is very small and Malta is culturally, you suppose, like the traditional men will always say they have. You need to have a wife, a house and a bird in a cage. That's a complete man in Malta. This is, of course, i don't know if it's true, this was translated, so if there's any Maltaese people listening, i don't know if it's true, but this is the information I was given.
Rohit Wadhwani: So, that being said, there's a lot of hunting going on in Malta And BirdLife has this agenda of protecting the birds migrate safely. There's a big business of migratory bird species. So, yeah, you stuff them up and you sell them for a lot of money. So anytime there will be some wanted bird and I think there are some birds which stalks or eagles, which have a set price, but then again by the season there are some birds which have no value. So you'd have a bunch of hunters coming out, a lot of hunters that would come out either for trophy hunting, for them themselves as a sport or for trading.
Rohit Wadhwani: And our job really was yeah, you can't.
Rohit Wadhwani: So sometimes, when the birds at night want to take a break and they land somewhere, we would, as volunteers for bird life, just hang, stay close to that spot till the morning so the birds could fly safely, the birds could sleep safely, and it was like it's kind of so funny because it was such a crazy. It's such a crazy way of trying to protect birds. You have these cars of volunteers looking at birds flying and they're like, oh, it looks like they're going to land there and you have seven cars going in that direction and then the birds will obviously fly somewhere else and then you're buzzing around the city and then the birds land and then you sort of come out of the cars and you're with the binoculars looking at the birds the whole time and looking around the birds as well where the hunters could be, and if you hear a gunshot and if one bird dies, they're like, oh my God, what the hell is going on. It just seems like very born identity, sort of catching the bad guy, you know.
Jesper Conrad: But you were literally standing as human shields, also in front of the bird.
Rohit Wadhwani: But then there was also lots of cliffs in Malta, many, many cliff birds, and so they breed there as well. So you to protect the birds, to protect the young ones then if you can, hear that in the background.
Rohit Wadhwani: So anyway, yeah, that might say So yeah, you would have you had to literally be on the cliff front where the birds have laid their eggs or the young ones are going to hatch or the young ones are going to take off, and just be there. And yeah, if the hunters usually would go for the mom or the dad or whatever you know like how to catch the adult, but you have to be there and just be like no, if you want to get to the bird, you're sort of almost not go through me, but yeah, you have to cough your chest out a little bit and have a verbal disagreement. And then, yeah, because of sheer numbers, and of course there's a law as well that you can't hunt birds and you have to call the police, and still, all that happened in Malta. You had to be there. So that was like the human shield aspect of it And you have to be prepared for fist fight.
Jesper Conrad: But what if?
Rohit Wadhwani: besides, thank you for saving the birds, as well, rohit what I'm really interested in is yeah all of the birds, All of them all of them Every time you see a bird in the sky And the chimps. That's right Every time you see one of those. yeah, you can donate one fence to my fund.
Jesper Conrad: Yeah, but, rohit, what I really loved also about that story is you kind of slipped it out, which is this well then, i took six months off to go help this organization, so before that you had been in a job, and what made you want to just quit working and say, oh, this organization it sounds like they need some help. I will go there.
Rohit Wadhwani: Yeah, i was very, i think, when I was younger. I was very, i was not picky, I was only the only thing that bothered me was seeing new places. So I would work for anyone, for any amount of money I mean the bare minimum as long as I got to see new places. And I was in Scotland working for, working for an organization that I was contracted out to, shell, the big oil giant. So I was sitting in the Shell office overlooking sort of Aberdeen, the Northeast of Scotland, thinking like, yeah, this is doesn't feel right, doesn't feel right. I'm being here, i want to travel. I'm not really traveling.
Rohit Wadhwani: And yeah, we spoke about, you know, my desire for help, like working with NGOs and animals and stuff. So I contacted this organization and I said, look, i'm this IT guy. Anywhere you have like IT problems, i'll just dedicate myself six months for free to wherever you want to send me. You know, i don't know what I can offer, if at all, if anything, but a couple of cold emails and a couple of sort of friends of friends. Few conversations later I was like, yeah, you don't have to pay me, you just have to give me accommodation, that's it. And I don't even pay for my flights, just give me food and accommodation. And if you give me spending money, great, but nothing else needed, just the shelter and food, because that's really the biggest expense in any place. So the rest you can. Once you get there, you sort of find your way through In my experience. So, yeah, they contacted me. They said, yeah, we doesn't need a Malta, So we'll take you, you can go there, but it's an internship. You know you can stay in this place and we'll give you some spending money. And that spending money was more than enough. And then they were like you go to Indonesia and Myanmar. I was like, for sure, yeah, that spending money was enough to take me to Indonesia.
Rohit Wadhwani: I worked there for about six weeks in Bandung, the island of Java, close to Jakarta, four hours or something, and then on the border with Myanmar. So it was a project with WWF, looking at some GIS stuff. I didn't see any animals there, it was mainly office space. But it was working in an office in Myanmar, which was quite good. Weekends I could get out and see the place. But all the check boxes done, new place, conservation, freedom. I think that's actually coming back to your. Coming back to your minimal question. I think that's one of the reasons. Like I don't have enough money to buy more things, so it's an automatic minimal lifestyle.
Cecilie Conrad: That's a choice, because you did share. you know you did earn a lot of money at one point and then you decided it was not worth it. So if you wanted a lot of stuff, it's not like you're the victim of poverty. I mean, you're voluntarily not having a lot of support.
Rohit Wadhwani: I was lucky, i think, like I, because in the Indian culture the sun is meant to provide for the family. So I was always brought up with this intrinsic need to earn money to support the family, even though, like my parents, didn't really need it. But I have this thing, that I had this money. I don't like it, but I have to earn it, you know. And then as soon as I got the opportunity, like too that I've earned enough to make sure that my parents supported or whatever, and it was a case of I don't want this. It was also bore from this dislike of money because of my upbringing That when I got the chance not to give it up, it was easier to do it.
Cecilie Conrad: I think you truly have the anything to get out there, keen. Yeah, i talked to a guy in Sicily. I met a guy who lived on a boat And he said it's kind of crazy, i live on a boat. And then I said well, it's kind of crazy, I live in a van.
Cecilie Conrad: It's not like it feels crazy to me And he said, yeah, anything to get out there, right? And I thought about it anything to get out there, maybe not anything, but a lot. You know I can let go of a lot to get out there And it sounds like your ideas, even when you were in your early twenties. You know, as long as I can get out there, priority one is a new horizon. And then, almost willing to anything, i can sleep on the couch and you can feed me rice and tomatoes and I'm happy And I think the other thing that many people don't get to sort out.
Cecilie Conrad: they don't, i don't know, take the time or think about doing it, but like what's the top priority? We live in this consumerism culture where we're supposed to want everything And if we decide, but there is truly only like one or two things that make me happy and that I really, really want and need to feel fulfilled in my life.
Cecilie Conrad: It could seem like some kind of I don't know, as if there was something wrong with us, or like the whole culture, everything the movies and even the modern literature, and the whole idea of the modern life is to have everything. So it's radical to choose the backpack, and I don't care if you pay me money as long as I get to see the horizon.
Rohit Wadhwani: It's interesting because right now I'm in Kuwait and I've always asked me to come here because it's quite a wealthy country. And now I've been here for a couple of months and the conversations I'm having with people, you know, it's wow. It is really suffocating for me in not that I'm right, they're wrong, They have a different way, such a different outlook, And they are so sort of because I'm asking people what is there to do here? Why can I go to get here some live music? and they're like live music, What are you talking about? There's only malls here. And I'm like, yeah, but okay, okay, what else? Like, is it deserts? So surely there must be some wildlife? They're like no, it's, there's nothing you can do. There's like there are NGOs to help people And there's only NGOs that, by my name, there's not really doing too much.
Rohit Wadhwani: Or I was like, okay, then how can I meet people? They're like, no, everyone has their own groups. People don't really get out here. Everything I'm coming across here is very, very different to what our values are or how we choose to live our life. So this is the most extreme place that I've come across, where I'm really struggling to sort of find a little corner of my reality. So, but then again, this is yeah, so it's all about the cars and how much money and other things. So I think I think you're right And you think anything to this desire to get out there is quite, quite a driving force And it really helps me. Like seeing genuine smiles and seeing sort of losing yourself is kind of somehow fulfilling, As I'm sure you know.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, yeah, i do, i do.
Rohit Wadhwani: Exactly, i think exactly. it's one of the reasons why you are also, you guys are also.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, we have a kind of thing to get out there.
Jesper Conrad: Oh yes.
Cecilie Conrad: Feeling Almost anything Living from the bus. Yeah Well, the bus is for sale now. Now we're down to the van.
Rohit Wadhwani: So is that definitely happening.
Cecilie Conrad: Well, it's just for sale. No one bought it yet And we have a very, very peaceful. I'm happy. if someone falls in love with it and wants to take over, then they. then I'm happy to sell it, and if not, i'm happy to keep it.
Jesper Conrad: I hope it can be the ticket to freedom for someone else, as it was for us. We thought we needed to move a big ass house 11 meter bus to be where we are. And now we did. We did, we needed it. We actually needed it. It was part of our journey to get here. It's been amazing.
Cecilie Conrad: It's just now. We are moving on.
Jesper Conrad: One more final question before we should round up the love fest for Rohit, and so you weren't here all the way It's mutual love.
Rohit Wadhwani: Yeah, you weren't here all the way.
Jesper Conrad: And then you ended up in northern Spain. So what moved you from one place to another?
Rohit Wadhwani: The reason I left here in the old and the reason I moved to Spain, barcelona, was because one friend had a spare room and the other friend had was from there and had friends, so she could reduce me to some friends. That was the only reason, mainly the only reason My main driver was I wanted to learn a bit about AI and I could have gone. My choices were London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona. These are. These were the hubs at the time that I wanted to learn some AI.
Cecilie Conrad: And then the class was the cheapest, cheapest, sanniest.
Rohit Wadhwani: And I had a base in Barcelona and some instinct claims And I was like, yeah, that's, that's good enough.
Cecilie Conrad: What else do you need?
Jesper Conrad: to do Yeah me too, It's also quite a bold way to travel. It's like oh, i want to learn some AI, and here are the different hubs. Oh, a friend, have a spare room, why not? A lot, of, a lot of people would have wanted a safety net bigger than that Rohit.
Rohit Wadhwani: I mean it's. I've got a bed like one roof over my head and someone who can show me around. There's nothing else. There's nothing.
Jesper Conrad: I would be happy.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah.
Rohit Wadhwani: Yeah, let's, let's So For hit.
Jesper Conrad: Thank you for all the inspiration you have been in in our life And I hope the people listening to your story can be inspired to also just get even more Out there and being less scared of the dark in their life, whatever that represents, and just go out and enjoy the world with, with a little of that, oh, hit inside of you, oh, hit spirit, the Rohit spirit. Thank you for your time, yeah, thanks guys.
Rohit Wadhwani: Always great to always great to see you and catch up and lots of love, as always, and the kids as well. Not so, not so kids anymore. The young adults, yeah, the young adults, oh man, they are growing faster than you can brew your morning coffee.
Cecilie Conrad: Yeah, all right, looking forward to seeing you guys whenever that is.
Rohit Wadhwani: Time is for hit when time is.
Jesper Conrad: Thank you.
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