Stress Buster

Nature lover

For Yudhishthir Khatau of Varun Shipping, staying outdoors is more of a regime than a welcome break

Soumik Kar

Be it watching the sun rise over the horizon when he’s on his daily run or watching it set while he sails, be it while water skiing in calm waters or just when he’s fishing, Yudhishthir Khatau is clearly in love with nature. “I don’t miss any chance to enjoy the best that nature has to offer clean air, greenery, water,” mentions the 47-year-old chairman and managing director of Varun Shipping, staring out the window of his sun-lit room in the Ballard Estate area of south Mumbai. Much of this love for nature stems from Khatau’s childhood days in Kenya, where his family resided since the late 1960s. “There was no television or video games and nature was all we had. It was quite normal to spend time watching Lake Victoria every evening,” he recalls. He spent the first 11 years of his life in Kenya before moving to Mumbai. “Being in the shipping business probably helps me be closer to nature,” admits Khatau. 

Despite a hectic schedule, Khatau has managed to regiment his life beautifully. Once a week, he goes for yoga, two days are devoted for a cardio workout at the gym and on most other days, he is out for his one-hour run — which could either be on Marine Drive or the Mahalaxmi Race Course — at 7 am sharp. Unless he is travelling out of the city, sailing is a must at least two Sundays a month. Khatau starts his sailing run at the Yacht Club in Colaba with a hired boat at either 6.30 am or 5 pm and sails for close to an hour with friends or family.  

Be it rain or shine, nothing comes in the way of his daily regimen. “The mind is free to relate to nature in the morning. Even if it is a two-day business trip, no matter where I am, I manage to find time to do something I like. This could be anything from skiing in Switzerland or clay pigeon shooting in London or a run by the lake in Hamburg,” he says. Khatau has just returned from a visit to London recently and still remembers the refreshing scent of the air at the city’s Green Park, where he ran for an hour each day that he was there. Be it London, or running around Singapore’s botanical gardens, or climbing up the Tirumala Hills while visiting the Tirupati temple or, well, scuba diving in Mauritius, everything has its own charm. “You know, any activity that is close to nature is also the best way to combat jet lag,” Khatau says. 

When it’s time for a holiday with the family, his choice is almost always the same — south or east Africa. “Thankfully, being with nature is something that my wife and two kids love as well,” says Khatau, adding that he and his family invariably end up having a candlelit dinner on the terrace of their home on most days rather than in the dining area indoors. Having seen and experienced the most beautiful things the planet has to offer, it’s only natural that Khatau has taken a fascination for photography as well. In fact, it’s something he wants to pursue seriously in future. Khatau plans to be a part of the National Geographic Expedition, which organises group trips to the Arctic, Antarctica and Africa. In March 2016, Khatau will travel to Africa yet again. “This will be for a week each year and it’s something that really interests me. I will also spend time clicking pictures in Tanzania,” he says. 

Back home, his favourite breakaway destination is Bheemeshwari in Karnataka, which he has been visiting once a week for 15 years now. Bheemeshwari is a camping destination on the banks of Cauvery, from where he travels to places like Galibore and Coorg, which also have fishing camps. The first time he went there was as a student in 1984, and Khatau has been a regular there since 2000. “The place is surrounded by rainforests and coffee plantations on either side. The Cauvery flows through the area and the whole place is very picturesque,” he explains. “I used to fish at the Cauvery earlier. Now, I just like the idea of simply enjoying nature and doing nothing else.”