You decide, they travel

Updated: Feb 09, 2014, 14:47 IST | Deepali Dhingra

Peeta Planet is a travel show where the viewers decide the itineraries for the hosts. Deepali Dhingra catches up with the hosts Mohammad and Peyman Parham Al Awadhi on their maiden trip to Mumbai, the first city to be shown on the show’s second season

Imagine an episode on a travel show featuring Mumbai with no nuggets of information on the Gateway of India, or worse, no history of the tourist places one generally gets when you search for ‘places to see’ in the city.

Emirati brothersTwo Emirati brothers, Mohammad and Peyman Parham Al Awadhi, came up with the concept of hosting a show where they build their itineraries and experiences in each city by engaging with social media communities and asking for recommenda-tions. Pic/Atul Kamble

Instead, what you do get are hidden gems — places you might have never heard of, people who’re quietly making a difference to the way we live but are not featured in the media, food that is unique to the city and experiences that only a Mumbaikar would really be aware of. Now imagine a travel show like that, which features a different city or country in each episode, telling you where to go, what to eat, where to shop, who to meet, among other things, that are off the beaten track.

And now, think of how it would be if you could tell the hosts where to go and they prepare their itineraries based on your suggestions. Put all of this together and you get Peeta Planet. Two Emirati brothers, Mohammad and Peyman Parham Al Awadhi, came up with the concept of hosting a travel show, where they experience each city by engaging with social media communities and asking for recommendations. The first of the show was aired last year and was widely appreciated. The duo is back with Season Two. The first city on their schedule being Mumbai. And while they were in the city, we caught up with the brothers at InterContinental at Marine Drive, their hospitality partner.

From being two corporate guys to opening up their own restaurant, Wild Peeta, in Dubai to hosting the show on Dubai One TV, Mohammad and Peyman have come a long way indeed. The brothers first used social media as a marketing tool back in 2009, when they decided to open their restaurant. “We didn’t tell anyone how amazing we are. We just told them our story as new entrepreneurs, the challenges of being a start-up in Dubai and those kind of things. People started connecting with us,” says Mohammad, the elder of the two brothers. It was this relationship they formed with their followers, along with a sudden plan to go on a vacation, that gave them the idea for Peeta Planet. “We decided to ask our followers where to go for a short vacation and some of them suggested Sri Lanka. And while we were there, they kept telling us what to do. That gave us the idea for the show,” he adds.

Two years later, it was showtime. “We have researchers who constantly engage with our followers on the social media, who suggest various things for the show,” says Peyman. For the second season, they have places like Johannesburg, Manila, Mexico City, San Jose, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, Amman, Athens, Rome and Madrid on their list.

For the episode on Mumbai themed ‘In Constant Motion’, the brothers met a guy named Rakesh Bakshi. “Rakesh buys new bicycles and gives them to people whose lives heavily depend on bicycles, such as somebody who delivers flowers. Rakesh was amazed how we found him, as there is hardly any news about him,” Peyman laughs. And what are the kind of reactions they get from people when they see them dressed in their traditional kandorahs? “There are stereotyped images in people’s minds, and sometimes they think they might say something that might offend us. But two minutes into the conversation, they forget what we’re wearing. It becomes one conversation,” says Mohammad. And is there any place that they would love to go? “Bhutan, Mongolia, Liberia and Alaska,” says Mohammad, and adds with a laugh, “But for Peyman, it will have to be a place with a shopping mall!”

The show will premiere on April 5 on Dubai One TV. It can also be viewed on the channel’s website, and on its YouTube link.

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