Our story has a very uncommon hero – she doesn’t wear capes. What she is known for, though, is travelling the world in a saree. Meet Shmruthi Gowrisankar! She waltzes around the world in her colourful sarees, captures pretty postcard views decked in her six yards. We tried to capture the spirit of this young wanderer. For the uninitiated, she currently lives in Liechtenstein, a country nestled between Swiss and Austrian Alps. Population – 30,000. Fun fact, Shmruthi adds, there are more cows than humans here. With that, we plunge into the world of Shmruthi Gowrisankar – draper of sarees, and unquenched traveller.
Her journey so far
Hailing from Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, Shmruthi’s tryst with travelling started five years back when she moved to Paris for her Master’s degree. From Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan to a lot of Western Europe and a dab of Eastern Europe; she has been there and done that (and more!). Her followers on Instagram run to thousands. But for a reason. Shmruthi travels abroad in a saree! Her pics of the Schloss Neuschwanstein castle and herself in a pretty sari have gone places. She also pens her thoughts down on Spread the wings. We have been following her closely – last posted on August 30. We are waiting on that next update. And you should, too. Join us as we take a peek into this saree advocate extraordinaire and wanderer’s life.
Is the saree just a style statement?
No, it turns out. Sure, the country wandering was nothing short of magnificent for this young lady. But it came at the cost of losing touch with her roots. And with the hope to reconnect and fulfil this yearning, she brought the sarees out.
I have lived in 7 countries for a span of five years. Meaning, I’ve moved to a new country every six or eight months. With the constant change in culture, people, food and basically everything else, I learnt to be super adaptive to any surroundings. However, as time went by I started feeling this ache in my heart to be more connected to my roots. And that’s how I ended up bringing sarees back in my life.
How did people react?
The very first day I wore a saree to my workplace in Singapore, I had jitters. My colleagues welcomed me so warmly and enthusiastically that all that nervousness flew away. With every week, my confidence levels grew and I was ready to take the world in my six-yard beauties, immune to any criticisms. In general, I have discovered, sarees pique people’s curiosity and fascination. In fact, they have helped me break the ice with locals during my travels.
But it didn’t stop there – she wanted to share it with the world and she did. Posting often on her blog and Instagram, she has raised brows and inspired many.
When I started sharing this journey online, I found many girls messaging me that this is indeed inspiring them to show their Indian-ness more openly, especially those who are away from their homeland. So, to boost the confidence of more young women, I actively started promoting #travelinasaree through my Instagram and blog posts.
Fondest travel memories?
At that time, I was working in Vietnam and had a long ten-day break for New Year. Known as Tet, this time most shops are closed and the country comes to a standstill. I was forced to plan some travel outside the country and the easiest option was the neighbour Cambodia. I couldn’t find travel partners as I had not made many friends by then. So, I decided to travel by myself to Angkor Wat. I was a little nervous about the whole solo travel thing. So, whenever people asked me if I was travelling by myself I used to say that my friend was at the hotel and would join me later. It so happened that there was a couple whom I ended up bumping into every single day of my 3-day trip – we basically had the same itinerary. On the last day, they came up to me and asked – “there is no friend, right?”. We ended up sharing a laugh and I stopped using that story in my travels from then on.
How she gets that perfect snap
One of the quirks of having a photographer husband is that you get the prettiest of shots – every single time. Ask Shmruthi!
My husband loves to photograph people and so, naturally, he takes all my pictures. And most of our photographs are from our travels and we don’t necessarily plan them in advance.
Naturally, we wanted to know if there was a shot that was special to both of them – turns out there was. She took us back to Pira, Slovenia.
The little seaside town is breathtaking with its narrow cobbled streets and medieval architecture. When we set our eyes on the place, we immediately knew that we had to do something special here.
So I took out my favourite jamdani saree with pretty pink flowers and got ready early in the morning for an almost 2-hour photoshoot. It was the first time we shot for so long, but given the pictures that came out of the shoot, it was definitely worth it!
And, boy, was it beautiful!
Courtesy her higher studies abroad and, now, a global career, she has extensively travelled through all the countries she has ever lived in. This wanderer, like us, believes in travelling and not touring.
I am with you guys one hundred per cent, I completely stand by Stop touring, Start travelling! Touring doesn’t make you an open person – travelling does. Only when you live with the locals, eat what they eat and do what they do, you start seeing things from a different perspective. The world needs more travellers who have compassion and love for the world and don’t pass judgments just based on what they grew up believing in.
Which led us to the next obvious question:
I am an opportunist so bucket lists haven’t worked out too well for me. Wherever I end up living next, I will make my plans to explore head to toe of that region 😉
As for my upcoming travel plans, it will be in a country so close to heart that I have longed to know more about – our very own India!
The road ahead (for this saree wielding wanderer):
My primary goal is to be consistent in my saree travels – at least one saree day in a week, whatever be the country. I love styling them in different ways and experimenting with the draping styles so you will see more of that for sure. My photographer husband is ever ready to click beautiful captures, so stay tuned for some visual treats as sarees travel the world.
While Shmruthi takes on and discovers the world with panache, we have one question for you, traveller. What do your travel plans look like in the near future?
For more travel stories and inspiration, follow Pickyourtrail.