about-me

Love yourself, treat yourself and take yourself everywhere. You came to this world alone and will be leaving alone. So don’t wait for others to fulfil your dreams.

Thanks for your keen interest in getting to know the person behind Rock and Solo!

Although it is quite hard to summarize myself in a single page given the innumerable experiences that I have had in my life so far that have shaped me into who I am today, I will try my best to give you a piece of me (Britney, yeah) and why I started Rock and Solo. I will be a 100% honest with you and share some of my deepest secrets, thoughts, goals and personal stuff just so that if you are someone who wants to convert your dream into reality, no matter what field you’re in, I hope to play a small role in it.  Because at the end of the day, what truly matters is how many people you helped, how many you inspired and how many you influenced to lead a better life.

So, speaking about me, who the hell am I?!

About Me

Hey there! I am Varsha Jayaraj. And I am a sucker for experiences. Throughout my life, ever since childhood, I have only dreamt and lived for experiences. I have fantasized experiencing every single thing in this world. Weird things excite me. Super normal things enchant me. Art enthralls me. Science interests me.  Entrepreneurship lusts me. Yoga challenges me. Dance moves me. So you see the pattern here, right? I am a sucker for experiences. As much fancy and glamorous as it sounds, wanting to do everything has also been one of the greatest challenges in my life – because every new thing makes me so damn curious and it has taken quite some time and practice for me to filter out the things that I truly love and want to pursue in the long run, from the things that I find only temporarily attractive.

“I wanna be everything at once” by Lenka is one song that I can resonate with, a 100%

But as much effort and time as it has taken for me to filter out and stick to what’s truly important to me, I am really glad that I tried everything once before narrowing down to the ones that I truly want to pursue. And over a period of time, this has become my life’s funda – to try everything once before taking the next step. And I still live by it and will still continue to try if something really interesting pops up in my life in the future.

Living a Life of No Regrets

I didn’t need Steve Jobs. I didn’t need the advice of wise men. All I needed was to place trust in my own thoughts and believe in myself.

I don’t know who planted the seed of “living a life without regrets” in my head because I strongly believe that it stemmed from within my own head. But it is hard for me to believe this because this thought didn’t come to me when I was in high school or when I started to work or when I heard Steve Jobs’ speech. Heck, I didn’t even know who Steve Jobs was. This thought came to me when I was 8 – 10 years old! Yes. I still remember this one situation that I had created in my head – of me lying on my deathbed in a hospital, and regretting all the things that I could have done but didn’t do, and wasting this precious gift called life. That thought terrified me. I realised that living a life with regrets is the scariest thing that can ever happen to a human being and decided then and there, that I wouldn’t lead one. I didn’t need Steve Jobs. I didn’t need the advice of wise men. All I needed was to place trust in my own thoughts and believe in myself. And that’s what I did at a very young age and that has shaped me into who I am today – a best friend of myself.

An Incurable Case of Wanderlust

An incurable case of wanderlust had hijacked my soul. And there I was, this young little girl who dreamt of walking down the skyscraper-laden streets of Wall Street and shopping high-end designer clothes from Milan, Italy.

I was raised in a middle-class family where my parents struggled day in and day out to give us good education and a decent lifestyle. So traveling abroad was out of the question! But our parents did manage to take us around within India and I am so grateful to them for that. From Agra to Kanyakumari, our parents have showed us everything. But that, wasn’t enough. I wanted more. I wanted to cross the seven seas. I wanted to travel the world. It was like a sickening fantasy! A disease. An incurable case of wanderlust had hijacked my soul. And there I was, this young little girl who dreamt of walking down the skyscraper-laden streets of Wall Street and shopping high-end designer clothes from Milan, Italy. I had big dreams; expensive dreams. And the only way I could make them true were through my own efforts and money. And I was quite stubborn about not imposing any kind of financial burden on my parents because I didn’t want to. And the enjoyment you get from seeking experiences that are bought from your own, hard-earned money, is inexplicable.

So, world travel was my childhood fantasy. It just became a career now.

Hunger for Entrepreneurship

I think by now you might be thinking how every single thing that I have done in my life has a reference to my childhood and what I wanted to do when I was a child. But isn’t that the most pristine, untouched, uninfluenced version of yourself? Where you are not driven by logic but by your heart? Where you are not yet conditioned by the society to take up an “acceptable” job but are free to be whoever you want to be when you grow up? A scientist. An astronaut. An actor. A pilot. A chef. It is the most “unadulterated” version of ourselves where our dreams have no boundaries, and our confidence, knows no bounds. And as we grow older and older, all of this fades away and our decisions are mostly based on logic, rationality, safety, and security. And self-doubt reaches an all new high. But luckily, I became aware of this. I became aware of the comfort of a fancy paycheck. I became aware of the societal conditioning of having a safe job. I became aware of the slow death of the inner child in me. I became aware of the distance I was creating within myself. And that’s when, I decided to pause and introspect. That is when, I decided to live.

I became aware of the comfort of a fancy paycheck. I became aware of the societal conditioning of having a safe job. I became aware of the slow death of the inner child in me. I became aware of the distance I was creating within myself.

Entrepreneurship has enticed me from as long as I can remember. In school, when I couldn’t spell entrepreneur, I would tell people that I wanted to become one. A convenient way to say it was, “I want to be a business woman!” and I always dreamt of having my own undertaking. Even when I decided to do my Masters in Business Analytics abroad, my ultimate plan was to come back to India and find my own company. However, that didn’t happen and I will talk about that in a bit. But one of my greatest goals in life has always been to become a successful entrepreneur. And I am in the process of becoming one.

Academic Topper, Killer Job, Masters Plan

What people fail to understand is that what shape you as a person are your goals, experiences, mistakes, hurdles and determination. Not your marks. Scoring good marks is only a reflection of good memory and a good understanding of the concepts. Believe me, I am a topper.

One of my greatest obstacles in life is having been an academic topper!!! I never thought this would be a burden until people started pointing out – “Hey! You were a gold medalist in 2nd PUC. What are you doing now? You’re a blogger?” or “Why did you study Engineering if you wanted to write stuff and make videos?” or “You are seriously wasting your intelligence!”. I was a topper in school, college and undergrad. I had secured 94% in 10th, ICSE (come on, I need to mention the board. It’s been like a thing for us forever), 97% in 2nd PUC (Won a gold medal for securing 9th rank in the state of Karnataka), and a GPA of 9.34 in my Undergrad at one of the most prestigious universities in India – B.M.S College of Engineering. Heck, and a GRE score of 320 on 340 (165Q, 155V) and a TOEFL score of 113 on 120.

But here’s what no one will see. I was the School Captain and the Valedictorian in High School. I was on the Cultural Committee at my Pre-University and emceed during fests. I was a Product Evangelist Intern at Wiksate in my Undergrad. I was a Google Student Ambassador. I have done a lot more things in my life but somehow these never had value. What people fail to understand is that what shape you as a person are your goals, experiences, mistakes, hurdles and determination. Not your marks. Scoring good marks is only a reflection of good memory and a good understanding of the concepts. What you are, is a reflection of every single experience that you have had in your life. Believe me, I am a topper.

Although I have never really cared about my grades, I was quite proud of myself for landing a great job after my Engineering. But even then, I knew I wouldn’t continue in the IT industry for long. I had a rough book where I would jot down all my startup ideas and scour the internet to read up about entrepreneurs and their journeys. Some of my favourite startups are AirBnb, Freshmenu and ID (the Kerala Parota brand). So my mind was pretty much fixated on entrepreneurship. I just didn’t know where to start.

I have a thing for data analytics and had done online courses in Data Science and Machine Learning. So, I decided to take up a Masters degree in Business Analytics where I could learn the fundamentals of what makes a good business and also use analytics on top of it to gather results and grow it in the right way. Heck now, Rock and Solo is a business in itself and I rely on Google and YouTube analytics to decide my next strategy 😀

I dropped my Masters plan after my first solo trip. And founded, Rock and Solo.

New York – Where it all Began

I got an admit from the University of Washington but I rejected it. Because it was not “my dream”. It was just in it. My dream was to go to New York. My dream was to travel the world. My dream was to be a successful entrepreneur.

In 2017, I took a solo trip to New York. It was my first ever solo cum international trip and a game changer of my life’s trajectory. New York will always have a special place in my heart. It is the land that converted my dreams into reality. And not a single day passes by when I don’t think about New York. It is in my heart. It is in my life.

Just like anyone else, I had my plans of doing my Masters in 2018. But not just like anyone else, I decided to take a leisure trip abroad in 2017. Why? Because I wanted my first experience abroad to be that of leisure and fun and not of studies and assignments! Yes, I told you. I am a very different person. Although I never intended to travel solo, after days of futile attempts at convincing my friends and family to go on a trip abroad, I decided to do it by myself. And little did I know that I would be that young woman who had just stepped her foot into fulfilling her childhood dream – of travel and entrepreneurship.

New York was never my intended destination. I wanted to go to Egypt or South Africa. But one night, I had a dream. I had a dream where my friends and I were at the Airport and we were flying to Washington State (I had applied to the University of Washington and my subconscious mind picked this up as the destination 😀 ) and due to a lengthy layover, we had a choice to trave elsewhere. My school friend Nimisha, who was in my dream, gave me a list of all the places that we could go to and her last pick was New York. The minute I heard New York, I ditched the rest and opted for it without a second doubt. And just when we were about to board the flight to New York, I woke up. I felt amazing. I wished that it came true. I sighed and told myself, “I wish I could go to New York”.

Two days later, I booked my tickets to the Big Apple. I had made my dream come true, literally. Another aspect of my dream did come true too. I got an admit from the University of Washington but I rejected it. Because it was not “my dream”. It was just in it. My dream was to go to New York. My dream was to travel the world. My dream was to be a successful entrepreneur.

Visiting New York resurfaced my love and passion for travel that was hidden underneath my soul. I started vlogging on WhatsApp and many people seemed to enjoy it. I had the time of my life in New York and cherish every moment that I spent there, even to this day. I came back to India and decided to launch my own travel blog. I didn’t want to wait 5 years to do this. I didn’t want to take up a hefty loan and study abroad. I wanted to start young. I wanted to start soon. I wanted to experiment. I wanted to explore. I wanted to fail. I wanted to travel. I wanted to be myself. Thus, I founded Rock and Solo.

I didn’t want to wait 5 years to do this. I didn’t want to take up a hefty loan and study abroad. I wanted to start young. I wanted to start soon. I wanted to experiment. I wanted to explore. I wanted to fail. I wanted to travel. I wanted to be myself. Thus, I founded Rock and Solo.

Rock and Solo Now

The journey of entrepreneurship is lonely. And mind f****** at times. But it is also the only way to truly connect with yourself, befriend your thoughts and have absolute control over how you wish to spend the rest of your life.

I founded Rock and Solo in April 2018 and received good traction in the first year. I took up a few interesting projects and started my journey in the travel domain. Eventually, I quit my corporate job as a Software Engineer and delved into travel blogging and vlogging full-time. Now, I treat my blog as a full-time business. Rock and Solo is a brand. It is a part of me now. It is my baby and I nurture it like one. I love how every bit of my work is challenging and how it allows me to learn a lot more new things. I have been able to discover my strengths, accept my weaknesses and work on both, while being gratified with a career that I truly enjoy and love. I do feel like a business woman now!

But this doesn’t come so easily. I have had to face a lot of criticism, opposition, humiliation and so on but my strength from within is enormous. The journey of entrepreneurship is lonely. And mind f****** at times. But it is also the only way to truly connect with yourself, befriend your thoughts and have absolute control over how you wish to spend the rest of your life. It also opens your eyes to who your true well-wishers are. I am genuinely enjoying every bit of my journey.

So, this is my story and I am really excited about what’s coming next. I am really grateful for this precious gift called life and I do not want to take it for granted in anyway. I want to be one of the top solo travel influencers and travelpreneurs in India and redefine the meaning of travel. I want to showcase some of the most unexplored destinations in the world without causing disruption, in a sustainable manner. I want to inspire people to travel solo. I want to be a successful entrepreneur, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of creating a positive impact on the society. I want to make that little Varsha’s dream come true. And I want to take her all over the world!

We all have a choice. We do. Irrespective of how much we blame the society or the education system or the world itself, we still have a choice in the way we want to lead our lives.

Every morning, when we wake up, we have a choice; we have a choice to either go back to sleep and continue dreaming, or work our asses off and make our dreams come true. I made mine.

Every morning, when we wake up, we have a choice; we have a choice to either go back to sleep and continue dreaming, or work our asses off and make our dreams come true. I made mine.