The passionate traveller

By Aimen Siddiqui
Tue, 12, 21

This week You! talks to Dr Asma Badar, a doctor by profession but an extreme sports enthusiast at heart, about her travels and adventures…

The passionate traveller

woman @ work

If I tell you that a woman is on a solo trip to whatever place, what is the first thing that will come to your mind? That she’s probably lying on a spa chair with her eyes covered with two perfectly round pieces of cucumber; that she’s on a shopping spree, swiping her cards right, left, and centre at the counter of flagship Gucci, Armani, Dior, and Cartier stores; or that she’s probably sitting in a café, reading the chic-lit she hurriedly grabbed from the airport’s bookstore.

It is quite rare to see people planning and budgeting for extreme sports. A majority of travellers keep the trip as light as possible. But things are changing, and people are redefining entertainment.

Dr Asma Badar, a Pakistani-American, is redefining femme solo travel. A passionate traveller and a go-getter, she’s on a mission to try as many adrenaline-filled activities and sport as she can. Between her hectic work schedule and other important work, we finally got some time to talk about her travels. This week Asma shared a casual conversation with You! in which she described why her idea of travelling is different – and more challenging…

The passionate traveller

We started the conversation with her recent trip to Vermont, US. One of the most hair-raising and action-packed activities she signed up for was rappelling – in this activity, a person climbs down a climbing rope which is wrapped around the climber’s body and is secured above. As exciting as the sport shows, it is full of risks and requires extreme care and precision. While talking about the dangers of the sport, Asma mentions in a casual tone that reflects how she loved taking on these challenges and isn’t deterred by the attached risks, “I fell head first. I was lucky that I was wearing a helmet.”

This was the most recent trip that she had. “This love for such adventurous sports didn’t crop up all of sudden. Ever since I was a child, I was into riveting activities and sports.” She recalls that her younger brother and she would go to her chacha’s (paternal uncle’s) home and climbed up all the way to the rooftop which wasn’t connected to any permanent staircase.

“We used to jump from one rooftop to the other.” During those days, the bug of vertical living hadn’t seeped into every housing society, and many residential areas had symmetrical houses, making it easier for Asma and her brother to hop from one house to the other. “We were skinny kids, but we were quite active, and we were always looking for ways that can help us utilise our energies to the maximum.”

The passionate traveller

With a hint of naughty laugh in her voice, she says, “We also used to climb trees. It was so much fun. Now when I look back, I wonder that we would have seriously injured ourselves. Some of our ‘adventures’ were quite dangerous.”

“I have taught the same values to my son (who is now a teenager). He’s accompanied me in so many activities, and he has been doing so from quite a young age.” A few years back, she had taken her son to experience different treetop adventures. The adventure park had tree-to-tree crossings and bouncy nets that made even small walk more thrilling. There were ‘easy’ activities like zipline. “There were Tarzan Swings and obstacles between the trees. The individual is responsible for locking themselves. There are different locks for different things.”

She also tells that her son “started doing this at the age nine! Scary, right?! He was responsible for his own locks.”

One of the most amazing extreme sports that she signed up for has to be skydiving – a thrilling adventure whose name gives an adrenaline rush. Thousands of feet above the ground, Asma floated around like a free bird in the sky.

“I have seen many people, both women and men, who aren’t into such adventures. And all I want my young generation is to learn to live fearlessly and adventurously. There is a lot of fun in such activities and such things should be an important part of their lives,” she shares.

“There are a lot of activities that I have taken up. I have a mini garden at home where I grow vegetables. And I can talk a lot about food and related stuff. But I want to talk about extreme sports and similar activities because this is what is lacking in our society. It’s surprising to see that even young people don’t have the energy to take up such sports.”

In the pictures she shared from her various trips around the world, one is from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The picture is of sand dunes. The space is famous among locals and travellers for its sandboarding activities. When asked about the particular trip, she narrates, “I have always done such activities – from cycling to attending morning Zumba classes to checking out new activities.” And this is the reason why her travels are memorable. On her Facebook page, perhaps the most frequent comment is ‘be careful’, which just shows how adventure-packed her trips are.

“Such trips are both relaxing and fun. If you look at it from a health perspective, you’ll find that such activities are great for your mental health. It is extremely important for people to take part in such sports if they want to reduce stress and have an overall good mental health.”

Sharing the memories of the past, she highlights that one of her phuppos (paternal aunts) signed up for photography classes in Karachi right after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. “She was full of life and her actions proved that.”

Through her adventures and her ‘can do’ attitude, Asma wants young women to look at life from a new and better perspective. “Women are often expected to talk about selected hobbies and issues. I think women should enter into the territories that were often considered off-limits for them.”