An Offbeat Conversation With Varad Naik

What do you do on the weekend? During the week, you go to college, go to school, sit in your office, tend to the house, do your chores, and more stuff that is usually specific to you and your life. But what is it that you do in your leisure time, the days that you have free to enjoy in your own space.

By the time the week is done, most of us are pretty drained from a strenuous work routine and just want to sleep. Honestly, sleep is the one thing I most look forward to on the weekend. A no-alarm-night is one of the happiest things in my mind and there are very few things that can change that. But there are those few among us who aren’t quite so lazy, those few who lead an active and energetic lifestyle instead of lying down that extra hour in bed.

One of these few is the co-proprietor of Offbeat, the youth venture which organises treks and other trips for the young and old alike. The man in question, the active type, the energetic one, is Varad Naik. After putting off plans for an MBA, he decided that working under someone wasn’t quite his style, so along with his brother, he ventured into the adventure sports industry by starting Offbeat.

A casual conversation had a lot to reveal, like the idea for Offbeat, apart from wanting to do something by himself, he also wanted to be able to relax during the week and work on weekends – kind of the opposite of the rest of our lives. But he also wanted to give other people a chance to have something to do on weekends. He says Offbeat is meant to cater to the working audience mostly, the kinds that run 9-to-5 jobs during the week in front of a desk, or sit answering calls in a BPO with a headset strapped on them. Varad says they want something to do on the weekends, but they don’t want to be tired going back to work on Mondays. Offbeat caters to these audiences because it does not organise strenuous treks; anyone can go on an Offbeat trek and get back to work on Monday without injuries is Varad’s claim.

Offbeats treks are planned to the bone. They are meant to be easy so people can enjoy them. Trekkers aren’t made to carry heavy backpacks and equipment; the organisers have that taken care of. All the trekker has to do is, show up, participate, and enjoy themselves in an energetic form of recreation. Offbeat treks are for everyone, and age and gender are no bar. Past treks have seen girls joining in equal numbers as guys and have even had participants over 60 years of age.

Varad says that Offbeat is meant for pure recreation. It is for people who enjoy getting outdoors and doing things rather than sitting around on a sofa in front of a television set. It takes people out to get back with nature in a simple and fulfilling way. It is for college students and young professionals who want to feel active and energetic, like they can accomplish something even if it is a small task which may seem insignificant to others.

But the important question is: How is Offbeat different from other adventure sports companies in Mumbai? It’s simple, says Varad, it’s all in the service. Firstly, Offbeat offers a pick up and drop service to and from everyone’s doorstep. Secondly, each person is treated like a king; no matter if it takes an hour or three hours for them to finish their task, they are respected for completing it. And third, and most importantly, Offbeat is well known among its patrons for its food. Varad says that a pantry set to prepare every meal on the spot – be it breakfast, lunch, evening snack or dinner – is sent an hour before the participants in order to prepare fresh food for them to enjoy. The food is enjoyed so much that there are as many as 15 regular participants who return for every trip just for the food; and Varad is more than just proud of this fact. He also mentions the Offbeat thirst quencher; a special energy drink which is given to participants only after they complete their task.

Thus far, Offbeat has only managed to do treks, mostly to forts uphill, and a long 5 day trip to Goa, but the next venture is star gazing, and in the near future Varad plans to introduce waterfall rappelling and white water rafting. Each trek begins with an introduction by the organisers, explaining Offbeat and the task at hand along with a brief background on the area they have visited. Following this, participants introduce themselves and are given a batch saying ‘I am Offbeat’.

The next trip is a visit to the outskirts of Mumbai, an outdoor destination in Vangani, where Offbeat has organised 8-10 telescopes and experts to explain and guide participants through a night of star gazing.

In closing, Varad says that people prefer Offbeat because their treks are refreshing and casual and don’t tire out, or injure, the trekkers. They are fun and enjoyable, which is most important.

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