Some say we are only given one life and some say our souls get transported from one life to another. No one knows for sure. So all we can do is do things for the present. Ailish is a teacher to students with autism, documenting the activities of autism charities in the countries she visits, spreading awareness. Her passion is to dig deep and create intriguing stories. Perhaps, that is why she understands the fascinatingly remote Northeast India better than an Indian does.
Hi Ailish, We are building a platform for travelers, and we consider storytelling to be a great mode of building a community, which brings us to this chat. So tell us something about yourself?
I'm Ailish, an independent traveller and writer. I run a travel blog, Ailish in Wonderland, where I write about my adventures!
That's great! So the nomenclature 'Ailish in Wonderland' came after an incident in Nepal where someone mispronounced your name (correct me if I'm wrong). What is the actual pronunciation of your name?
Everyone in Nepal pronounced my name like "Alice"- hence the name. But it's actually Ay- lish (it's an Irish name, though it even gets mispronounced back home in Ireland!)
What does your name mean?
"Noble" (I think). My full name means something like "noble victorious warrior."
Which I'm sure you are! So I was surfing your website and I was intrigued to find out that you have discussed in details about the distinctive culture of Northeast India. I didn't see any reference to colorful Jaipur, Taj Mahal or Mumbai slums (which is the usual norm for travelers). How so?
I visited all of those destinations on an earlier trip (back when I was 19). It was my first backpacking trip and I loved it (it was where I met my partner, Adam). It was long before the blog was set up. Since then I've returned to India twice, both times to the Northeast.
So how would you describe Northeast India? Many are of the opinion that the northeast does not seem Indian enough. What do you think?
I adore Northeast India. I don't know what counts as "Indian enough"! But it is a very different culture to elsewhere in India. We spent time in Lepcha villages, as well as in a Buddhist monastery. It was an incredible experience with fascinating and friendly people.
Quite fascinating! So you are into filming. What is your future vision pertaining to this vocation?
I love telling stories, whether that's through writing, photos and filming. For the future, who knows! I hope to continue to travel, write, and film the interesting stories of people we meet. New Zealand is next on the travel list!
You have collaborated with quite a few organizations. How did you come by those?
We pitched ideas to several organisations that we thought might be interested in videos promoting or documenting their work. The downside to freelancing is that it involves lots of pitching ideas, most of which never come to anything. But thankfully we had several that did!
I'm glad that they did! So what is coming up for the Mongolia trip on http://caraonline.co.uk/ ?
Our Mongolia trip was amazing- what an incredible country. A highlight was the Eagle Hunting Festival. Our video made the shortlist of the National Geographic Traveler competition & our photos were published in the New York Post.
A Golden Eagle ready for the Hunt PC Ailish Casey
That's great news! So is travelling a full-time profession in your case these days?
Sadly no. I am currently based in London and travelling when I can. This month I have squeezed in two short breaks to Milan and Copenhagen. Next month I will be travelling around New Zealand for a few weeks. I'd love to be on the road full time, though it is nice to have a base.
So what do you two do for a living? Does that anyhow enhance your travelling experience? Is there any association?
I am a teacher for children with autism. We have documented autism charities in other countries. We have met people doing amazing work, & learned a lot about how autism is viewed around the world. Plus working in a school means plenty of time to travel! http://caraonline.co.uk/autism/
Yes, you have covered the subject in Nepal, I've seen that. So how was the experience? What are your inputs?
I think it's fascinating to see how it is viewed in other countries. In Nepal, many see it as a curse on the family. AutismCare Nepal is doing fantastic work with children and their families. We have also filmed organisations in Mongolia, South Africa & Namibia.
And what is the scenario in these countries?
In terms of how it's viewed, there seems to be a recurring theme of something bad in the body that needs to be flushed out- whether that's evil spirits, or poison, etc. There is great progress being made by these organisations, particularly in educating the public about autism.
That's a positive sign then! And you are so fortunate to be a witness to this. Well, thank you for your time. It was a pleasure talking to you.
It was a pleasure talking to you too!