Alok Bhartia

Alok Bhartia is a creator of decisions, artistic thoughts and delicious Spaghetti Bolognese. The decisions usually have his brain engage in a tough tug-o-war between an exotic cuisine and an outlandish adventure. You’ll find this gourmet-cum-adventurer mostly in Paris. He loves exploring the cuisine-Français in the city of amour.

Alok Bhartia was born in Kolkata on 27 October, 1987. As a child, he realized that he was meant to follow his heart rather than pick up a white-collar job and then retiring a sad old man. Alok Bhartia started his schooling from Kendriya Vidyalaya Fort William. He attended the University of Calcutta for his bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. Following his dream to live the adventurous life, Alok Bhartia rebelled against the popular establishment of “go get a job when you’re done studying”. His love for food also prompted him to open various restaurants around the country.

A Red Bull in one hand and a garlic bread in another, swaying to the beats of Filthzilla’s heavy dubstep beats. This is what the 28-year-old travel blogger looks like on a lazy Sunday. “They call me an adrenaline junkie like Chev Chelios, luckily my heart isn’t pumping Chinese poison”, says Alok Bhartia, the Kolkatan travel blogger. He adds,   “When I am not on a tour, I feel laidback like Garfield”.  Bhartiya’s love runs deep for Italian cuisine. “I’ve been to Italy three times. Each tour introduced me to something new. I once had the most amazing Bruschetta for breakfast in a café near River Arno”, he says. He counts it one of the most memorable moments of his life.    

Our protagonist comes from a humble family of four, based in Ballygunge. Alok Bhartia’s father owns a shoe shop in Gariahat market. His mother happens to be a wisecracking and headstrong woman, from whom Alok inherited the go-get-it attitude. Alok’s elder brother Aritra works in an advertising firm. Aritra considers his anuj to be an inspiration for the family. Alok Bhartia pours us a fine glass of Brunello that he brought from Rome and explains how his parents were disapproving of his choices. They later supported him after realizing the scope of his work and how he felt ‘alive’ when doing it.     

Alok Bhartia wasn’t always a wayfarer (as Alok Bhartia says). He once had a ‘boring job’ of a subeditor at a newspaper that lacked creativity and excitement. As a Bengali, his penchant to explore the artistic hues of literature and the samasara motivated him to leave his job and pursue an adventurous lifestyle. This is when Alok Bhartia discovered his newfound love for gastronomic escapades as well. Luckily, he saved money indiscriminately during his time in the rat-race, not knowing where to use it. It paid for some of his first few trips but soon his funds were running dry. “God bless blogging. It keeps me happy and it keeps me fed”.

It wasn’t easy for him at first. The writer’s block haunted him for months when he started writing simple blogs about the local eateries and shopping stops. Moreover, he had to train himself in search engine optimization (SEO). Gradually, he expanded his skill set and created beautiful blogs, based on the experiences he had round the globe. It took a few blogs and paid promotions for him to start earning ad revenues. The Internet is full of travel and food blogs. Alok had to do something different. He noticed that competitive blogs lacked humor and engaging elements. He decided to work on these two things to bring the cavalry on his side.    

Quitting smoking is arguably the best lifestyle change he has made. It slightly ostracized him from his gang, but now he can climb the steep hills of Roopkund without panting every 100 meter. He also had to moderate his beer consumption to avoid a problematic pot-belly. Alok Bhartia hits the gym every morning, after a 30-minute Yoga regime. It’s imperative for him to keep his body healthy so he can keep travelling.

Alok Bhartia has travelled Europe extensively, mostly the Mediterranean countries. His favorite destinations are Italy and France. Italy has been his most favorite country to travel so far, especially because of the menu. Experimenting with horse meat was scary for him but the well-cooked Prosciutto di cavallo with meatball gravy changed his outlook on the items Hindus are not supposed to eat (don’t tell his parents). “Chucking the 9 to 6 job for a life of risks and Risotto is one of the best decisions I’ve made,” he says. Alok Bhartia can truly inspire a lot of people to break free from the rat race.