Women On Clouds – A Backpack Full Of Female Friendships, Laughter And Stories

-

Women-On-Clouds-01

A Woman On Cloud herself, Shireen Mehra began her entrepreneurial expedition in 2009. She was an air hostess with Qatar airways for some time which made travel her way of living. Later, Shireen trained potential air hostesses as well. Additionally, her brother is into travel too which explains all but that travel is in the blood.

Shireen believes that everyone deserves to travel. Women On Clouds (WoC) emancipates women by rejuvenating them from their monotonous routines and building friendships of a lifetime. She also adds that she cannot wait to restart all the adventures that came to a halt because of the pandemic.

Here’s are excerpts from my conversation with her:

How did you come up with the name ‘Women On Clouds’? What is the story behind it? 

There isn’t any interesting story behind the coming up of the name. I wanted a name that women could relate to. Given that I was a bit of a rebel myself, I didn’t want to compromise with its name. In the early 2000s, women and their capabilities were still underrated. The idea of women being independent was just picking up. So I wasn’t sure of the name, however, I knew what I wanted to do. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Women On Clouds (@womenonclouds) on

One day, while taking a mindful stroll down the road, I just looked up at the sky out of fatigue. I saw beautiful white clouds and asked myself, “What could I name with women and clouds in it?” And you know what I chose. 

Why women? 

WoC was an experiment honestly. Back in 2008, I planned a trip with my girlfriends. As a random thought, I asked each one to bring their girlfriends. This made it an exclusive girls trip to Dehradun. And you won’t believe it when I would say this, but it was one of the best trips of my life! There were so many strangers, with their share of stories. The thought of sharing two days with strangers felt liberating. It was such a fun trip despite us being anonymous to each other. 

After coming back from the trip, I knew my plan. I knew this company would be the next big thing. And thus, an all-women travel company with all women travellers fuelled with a fresh feminine vibe came into place. But I accounted for all the hiccups as well that would come my way. The safety concerns and dependence on their husbands or families still restricted their travel emancipation. After all, why would a woman want to travel if she didn’t feel independent, adventurous and stress-free? All these factors were taken care of when we came up with WoC. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Women On Clouds (@womenonclouds) on

Also, my trip to Dehradun proved the age-old stereotype of women that do not bond as entirely stupid and baseless. Everyone should have seen the trip that we embarked on! The informal environment bloomed impromptu conversations that we became friends on the very first day. The women come here with a mindset that they are not here to take care of anyone or fear judgements. The need to please anyone is left behind. And the need to have such a travel expedition bloomed. 

What are the programmes that women can choose at WoC?

We have various segments. Firstly, we have something called The Classic Trip, which covers domestic and international trips. These include leisure trips as well as business trips. Secondly, we also have something called The Light Pocket Trip, which is easy on the pocket and pretty economical. These trips are specially curated for young women who are in their early 20s and 30s with little disposable income. The third segment is about specialized trips in which we provide experiences such as yoga and art workshops. The last segment is called The White Cloud, which is characterized by one-day programmes and activities for women. It is a one-day adventure around changing car tyres, car maintenance, and cycling. Again, the idea is to have an adventure, bond and befriend, and learn something simultaneously. 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Women On Clouds (@womenonclouds) on

Tell me something about the team which includes the chauffeurs and the guides.

In all the trips, we make certain that a female coordinator is present every time. The idea is to pamper women while they enjoy their trip soothingly. One must not get confused between a coordinator and a guide. A tour guide is someone who has a sound knowledge of the location and can show the women around while a coordinator is the one planning and strategizing everything. We, most of the time, try our best to find a female tour guide, but at some places, these female tour guides are not available. Our chauffeurs are primarily men, as I would confess that it is not easy to find female chauffeurs, especially in India. But yes, it is right to say that the presence of a male chauffeur is important and no woman has ever complained about it. However, in the backlog, only women take care of the operations.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Women On Clouds (@womenonclouds) on

Why should one book a tour with WoC?

Anyone can book a trip these days as there is an abundance of trip makers online. But how often does a woman or a girl get to find a like-minded group where they can have fun and make friends? You know after a certain age, we don’t have the energy to refine our friend circle because we are bound by our standard and tedious lives. WoC offers travel and tour options where women can step out of their comfort zone, and altogether be comfortable. 

Moreover, travel is about re-finding yourself and your zen amidst a beautiful landscape. I assure that a woman finds so much about herself when she travels solo or with an unknown group. An observation that I have made is that many women have become such good friends that they now travel together without us. These small achievements make me happy.

Let me narrate a story about a woman who once travelled with us. She is a hard-working government employee. Her standard 9-to-5 job was obviously unadventurous. At the age of 57, (P.S. not saying that age restricts exploration) she took one of the most venturesome treks with us. After finishing the trek, she felt completely different about herself. She felt an air of emancipation and went easy on herself. Most importantly, she started loving life. She even cut her hair short!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Women On Clouds (@womenonclouds) on

What is a piece of advice for the women who are not yet on the seventh sky, or in this case, on clouds?

I would say that the limitations are only within ourselves. Women in India, specifically, live within themselves. We believe that some external factor or circumstance is holding them back, whereas, it is only our thoughts that are holding us back. When you wake up from your reverie is the day you will realise that only you can free yourself from what is limiting you. Identify your strengths and weaknesses. Even when the circumstances limit you, at the end of the day it is only you who can free yourself from them. And if you are aiming to become an entrepreneur, you have to learn to take risks and survive uncertainties. 

While you were on enroute of building your enterprise, what were the challenges that came your way?

Many. I started with limited capital and there was not much publicity. I started with word of mouth initially. Word of mouth is more reliable and personal and is an indicator of good service. Another roadblock was the unenthusiasm and hiccups about taking permissions for Delhi women. I am talking about 2009/2010. On a complete other side, women from Bangalore and Bombay were quick to make decisions. They were independent thinkers and also were financially more sound. In Delhi, we had a bigger role than just being travel coordinators. We helped women in taking permissions. We assured the safety of the traveller in front of their families. So we had to tackle this emotional barrier as well. But thankfully, things have changed and women have become quite independent in taking decisions now. The mindsets of families have evolved too and they don’t hold back their women. Last but not the least, safety is our topmost priority. We were in Ladakh, clad in the snow when a major landslide occurred. However, we overcame it. But the best part is the recognition that we receive from women and men alike.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Women On Clouds (@womenonclouds) on

How has the lockdown period been from WoC?

We had many pre-bookings that we were busy scheduling as all the flights got cancelled, and the business came to a halt. We were sorting through a lot of backlogs as a lot of people’s money was on hold. Yes, the pandemic has been inversely favourable to the travel industry. We had to ensure support to our clients too. The team had to plan new strategies in sync with the new regulations. We are hoping to resume our operations from October (keeping our fingers crossed for now)!

Let the traveller in you wing herself. Calling all the Women On Clouds! Visit their site to keep yourself updated about their upcoming programs.

Visit their site: womenonclouds.com
Or find them on facebook: facebook.com/womenoncloudsclub/
Or call them on: +91-9650844470
Or mail at: [email protected]

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Have a Story? Share it!

GET INSPIRED

We feature inspiring stories on Indian Travel, Art & Culture. Get our stories right into your mail box. Aie Shapat NO SPAMS!