When you hear the word “North East”, the thing that comes to your mind is momos, Shillong, and generic stereotypes that are common to any place.
However, if you ask a native north-eastern they would say things that would blow your mind like how Assam was the first place where oil was found, how Mughals couldn’t invade this beautiful hidden gem owing to its geography, how Manipur and Nagaland were the only two states in India where WW2 was fought and how the seven sisters were collectively called Assam before.
But northeast doesn’t just suffer from stereotypes, it is subjugated to far worse — identity crisis. The seven (now eight) states have always been alienated due to vast diversity in race, customs, and language. This coupled with all the stereotyping has lead northeasterners to feel left out in their own country.
Nonetheless, there are people who want to change the way the entire country views the northeast, they want Indians — their own countrymen and women to see how breathtakingly beautiful northeastern part of India is and how much-untapped potential and talent the eight states hold.
I spoke to one such young man who is relentlessly working to improve and grow the whole of the northeast with his passionate tourism venture — Finderbridge.
Returning to your roots begins by first going away from it
Raised in different parts of Assam, Himangshu Baruah spent his childhood with his grandparents and later due to his father’s transferable job all over Assam. This made Himangshu interact with people from different socio-economic background from an early age. He moved to Pondicherry for engineering and that was a huge turning point for him and left a lasting impression.
“Stepping out of my comfort zone moulded my personality for the better. Realising the misinterpretations people had about Northeast, all throughout my stay in Pondicherry, moved me to take a keen step in finding the loopholes in Northeast Tourism and I was determined to bridge the existing gaps between Northeast India and the rest of the country,” says Himangshu. “Day after day, I took out time and invested in research work which lasted for about 2 years and gradually it took shape in the form of Finderbridge. From pen and paper to a full-fledged website and from the right team to a private tourism organization.”
A firm believer in the power of the universe, Himangshu says, “Trust yourself to make the right choices, to cater to your needs and to find your sense of direction in life. Trust the timing of the universe.”
Everything you are seeking is seeking you in return. Therefore, everything you want is already yours. It’s simply a matter of being aware of what you already possess.
A candid talk with Himangshu Baruah
How is the current scenario of the travel industry in Northeast India?
The current scenario in northeast tourism is moving at the right pace. But looking at it from varying perspectives, we still have to work on a lot of sections. There is huge untapped potential in the region and if proper attention is given, the tourism sector is bound to flourish. Our major focus is the development of the communities — both socially and economically. We are working toward ensuring the growth of more responsible tourists and rise in the value of responsible tourism.
What challenges did you face when you started your journey with Finderbridge?
The pivotal challenge was to convince myself every single day saying ‘yes it’s possible’ even if everything else said otherwise. I believe every startup faces different sets of challenges. There are some which are common and there are some which depend on the domain and other factors.
When I started FinderBridge, the task of rebuilding the team over and over again and finding the right people who would add value to the team was stressful. Since the core team is from an engineering background, studying the ins and outs of the travel industry, researching the market, and creating the niche was another challenge. Moreover, the future of travel website and services revolves around data and building tools, so it was potentially engrossing to arrange this data and present appropriate versions of it to travellers.
Burnouts are a part of the work process. How do you relax and recharge?
Taking regular breaks and travelling to my favourite destinations has always added significant positivity to my mind and has let me unwind in the best possible way. I definitely consider myself lucky because my work includes travel, which is my passion. Another thing which I absolutely love is stocking up on movies and rewatching my old classics. I really enjoy the process of learning new technical and designing skills.
Tell us about a regular day in your life.
My regular day is a continuous to and fro from the gym to the workspace and back home post meetings. The day starts on a positive energetic note by brainstorming with my teammates and then everyone goes about with their work. Before we retire for the day, we have a thorough discussion for the next day’s schedule.
For the mind to be balanced, it’s very important to keep ourselves fit and ever since I have been into fitness, my productivity at workspace has increased too.
How does it feel when people tell you, that you’ve been an inspiration to them?
It’s an extremely overwhelming experience. Receiving recognition for the work that I do is an honour and I really value the creative circle I have built around myself. This also keeps me motivated to work every single day.
What is the future roadmap of Finderbridge?
As Northeast India’s most successful travel company, we are working strongly with a community to build a better place to live in, which ultimately creates better destinations. Finderbridge is implementing the concept of sustainable and responsible tourism all throughout Northeast India.
Words of wisdom to young aspiring entrepreneurs
“There is no shortcut to success; patience and consistency is the key that will lead you to discover yourself better. When we get comfortable at a place, we begin to get stagnant and never strive for a stagnant phase, strive for growth — every single day.
Stick to your plans and fall in love with your dreams. Choose your mentors wisely and don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. That’s where learning begins.”