'Take wrong turns. Go off trail. Be curious about exploring the unknown': Jugal Mistry, founder, Bombay Trooper

The Proust Questionnaire is a questionnaire about one’s personality. It has its origins in a parlour game popularised by Marcel Proust, the French essayist, who believed that, in answering these questions, an individual reveals his or her true nature.

12th Jan 2020
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Jugal Mistry is founder of Bombay Trooper, a travel fashion brand, which deals with contemporary apparel and designs. Every product is incepted and designed by Jugal himself. Being the creative force behind Bombay Trooper and developing a knack for designing and developing nascent ideas, Jugal has also worked at curating new products and contemporary travel apparel.

Jugal loves building stuff, right from remote cars to yo-yos to furniture for his office to software that automates work for 10 people in his company. He is a big-time adventure junkie. He has trekked the Annapurna Base Camp twice, and also gone on other treks of varied difficulties in Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra. His holidays are often, either at a ski resort or at isolated camping spots in the mountains.

Bombay Trooper reimagined the concept of comfortable travel pants inspired by Sherpas of Nepal, marking the debut of its exquisite range called Hoppers in 2016. Accentuating every body type, shape and size, the Hoppers were an instant success in the e-commerce industry. His company also launched the Terra Nova Collection of bags that are made from upcycled canvas materials sourced from used military tents and trucks. Along with Terra Nova Collection, the brand also launched travel shorts made from recycled polyester fabric. Here are his responses to our Proust questionnaire...

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Gaining knowledge gives me a euphoric high. So does running businesses. And mountains. And skiis. So perfect happiness for me would be living in a secluded cabin on a mountain-top of some cold country with enough books and the Internet to keep me engaged in reading while my remote team helps me run my businesses. Richard Branson did something similar and now he’s making an outer space amusement park, so there’s your proof of concept.

What is your greatest fear?

People fear things that are most precious to them so for me it’s my free will. Most of the good things in my life are because I have always had freedom to make my own choices and not conform to the norm. I really enjoy my freedom to experiment, freedom to break rules, freedom to explore the unexplored and even freedom to stay up all night or sleep till late.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?

Attention deficiency. And laziness (mostly physical). And getting bored of repetitive tasks. And having attention span of a goldfish. And where’s that packet of chips I left on my bed?

What is the trait you most deplore in others?

The lack of curiosity, the inability to question authority and blindly following rules.

What is your greatest extravagance?

All my mountaineering and adventure gear. Those are probably my only material possessions.

What is your current state of mind?

I’m at the moment trying to figure out how to best optimise my company in a way that allows me time to face bigger challenges and work with inspiring people from organisations that are making a global impact. Currently, I’m devoted to scaling the company organically which happens at a steady pace with limited people and thus my interaction with people other than my employees is scarce which I feel is hampering my personal growth. This is one of the downsides of being an entrepreneur, which not many people talk about.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

All virtues are overrated. Human beings are way too complex to be defined by morals and virtues. One man’s justice could be another man’s revenge.

On what occasions do you lie?

I’m highly introverted and like to keep my private life to myself. So, anything that would give away certain personal details, I’d rather just lie. I could be cooking or shaving and if a friend calls asking what I’m upto, I may probably reply “Just chilling”. Oh, and having struggled in business in the past, sometimes I would have had to lie to my team to keep them motivated and not reveal the thin ice we were once skating on. Thankfully, the ice is pretty thick now so we’re upgrading the skates to skis.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?

The beer belly. It was calculated until it went out of control. Now I’m too deep into it and have to take serious measures such as working out and eating less (maybe drinking less beer too but that’s on the bottom of the list).

Which living person do you most despise?

None. I may idolise certain people but anything less than that, I’m just indifferent.

What is the quality you most like in a man?

Men (at least the ones I know), usually talk more ideas and concepts and theories as opposed to women (again, only from the ones I know) are more about gossip and who-did-whats which I find is a complete waste of a conversation.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?

Their ability to bring human values into a very 1s-and-0s kind of a world that men would have otherwise built.

Did you know, when Charles Babbage was building the very first computer - The Analytical Engine, it was supposed to just do math with numbers? It wasn’t until his apprentice Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, stepped in with her creative yet mathematical mind and realised how this "computer" could not just be limited to numbers but also to words, graphics, music and everything else that made the computers today.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Brilliant. Ridiculous. Sexy. Let's roll. We'll figure out.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?

Reddit. I can spend hours - no - days on it without needing anything else. There’s so much knowledge and stories that people are continuously sharing and each thread you read is setting you back with thousand more to catch up. When will I read all this? Can I just do this full time?

Guys! Stop posting more stuff. I haven’t read today’s top posts because I was busy filling this grown-up version of scrapbook for YSWeekender.

Which talent would you most like to have?

I was introduced to music quite late in my life. At this point, I am just finding it impossible to train my ear to recognise musical notes. I have a very theoretical approach to learning so even if I can train my muscles to play the piano or the guitar, it won’t be the same as understanding music and letting your mind play the notes. I haven’t given up though and hope to nail this someday.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I’m constantly changing everything about myself. It’s an ever-evolving process of self-correction.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Teaching myself how to code while I was in school. Life has never been the same since. It not only helps you harness the power of computers but also shapes your mind into a better and faster thinking machine in itself.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?

Just someone born in the mountains. Or an eagle. A mountain eagle. A person who can shapeshift into a mountain eagle at will. I would go on my high altitude leisurely flights to ponder about the world and come back to stay in that cabin I mentioned before.

Where would you most like to live?

Oh c’mon, if you’ve been reading the whole thing, I’m just going to sound like a broken record repeating just one word - mountains.

What is your most treasured possession?

My laptop. I have thinking or coding emergencies where I need to type things down asap and that’s why now it has become an extension of me. I carry it everywhere I go.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

Dying of hunger / starvation. Global food production is enough to feed 1.5x the human population. In a decently populated city, you can’t not get food even if you don’t have money. Apart from famine regions, you can always rely on nature to help you with plants or animals. Yet a person dies this slow death every second. Food for thought.

What is your favourite occupation?

Oh, I have too many. And I plan to do internships in all of them.

First would be a car mechanic where I get to break open all parts of the car and put it back together. Then maybe a crane operator where I would sit in a single-person office, admire the view from the top, order pizza and ask the delivery fellow to leave it on the ground only so I could pick it up with the crane. Then a pilot, but of a chartered plane of some adventure seeking billionaire and not a commercial one doing A to B to A trips. And something small in luxury destination hotels - a golf cart driver or a bartender.

What is your most marked characteristic?

The ability to make a joke out of any topic or a situation. Often times, inappropriately.

What do you most value in your friends?

All my friends have excellent minds with fresh ideas spilling out each time we talk.

Who are your favourite writers?

Douglas Adams and Bill Gates (check out his blog)

Who is your hero of fiction?

Tony Stark.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Leonardo Da Vinci

Who are your heroes in real life?

Bill Gates

What is your favourite name?


What is it that you most dislike?

I dislike a lot of food with great passion. Why would you make brittle idlis out of rava? How is poha even a thing? Did the guy who made Bounty confuse cocoa nuts with coconuts?

What is your greatest regret?

Not opting for mechanical engineering and going with IT engineering thinking “oh I already know computers so this would be easy”. It was a completely outdated and wrong kind of syllabus so I dropped out and could never go back to studying mech.

How would you like to die?

In the vacuum of space, admiring the milky way. And if science hasn’t progressed enough by the time I decide to die (hello Richard Branson, how’s that remote working plan holding up?) then I’ll settle for a Felix Baumgartner style freefall from space (but, obviously, without parachute).

What is your favourite journey?

It is yet to happen - a year-long road trip across multiple countries with nothing but a car, tent, camping gear and my best friends.

What is your motto?

Take wrong turns. Go off trail. Be curious about exploring the unknown. Find new ways to get to the same goal. If you have learned to survive in the wild and are carrying the right tools, you won't settle for anything less than an unplanned adventure - because going by the books, although safe and guaranteed, is boring as hell.

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