Found this beautiful memoir on Facebook, in which Swati narrates her experience travelling solo in Bharat.
Just like her, I have had the opportunity to travel solo quite a bit in India and abroad. And I completely share the author’s experience. What is unparalleled in desh, is the warmth and respect I have received as a solo woman traveler. Have amazing memories of complete strangers in Sikkim going out of their way to ensure that we two 18 year old girls were safe and comfortable, the new found “bhaiyya” in Kashmir who took it upon himself to show me Srinagar and Pahalgam, the most amazing hosts I bumped into in Hampi who got me garam chai every day of my stay in Hampi, the Didi and her kid in Mcleodganj, who walked 2 hours with me to help me find the way to my hotel. And why just people, while trekking through the ghats in Gokarna, there was not a person in sight, but there was this one dog who trekked 3 hours with me, waiting when I halted and walked when I moved. Quite a surreal experience that was….and I can keep reminiscing.
My first solo trip (well, almost solo, my companion was another 18 year old woman also doing her 1st almost solo trip) happened when I was 18. My mom encouraged us to break out of our protected cocoons and experience the real world outside. And off we went to Siliguri, a 50 hour train journey from Mumbai at that time, and that too in the Sleeper Class. We tripped across Sikkim, Darjeeling and part of Bhutan for 2 weeks.
This one trip changed my perception of the society, and made me believe in the inherent nicety of human beings. And this was just the beginning, many more adventures followed since. I had tasted the bliss of travel, now there was no turning back. I genuinely feel, overtime, my trips have made me more confident and probably more accepting of life’s eccentricities.
Not to say that there are no dangers, or its all rosy and hunky dory. Of course, one has to be careful, man or woman, one has to be respectful of the social culture and acceptable norms of the host region. One has to be watchful and have a certain discipline in behavior (personally, when travelling alone I almost never venture out for drinking parties or exploring night life, that’s not my thing anyways), and most importantly obey local wisdom. But by and large, people are good. I have come to trust the innate goodness in people, irrespective of how rich or poor they are, how educated or not so sophisticated they are, what caste or creed they belong too . This underlying theme of warmth is another factor that binds India into the epitome of Unity in Diversity, it is today. Do give yourself a chance to find goodness around, to learn not just about others, but explore your own idiosyncrasies, to reinforce your faith in humanity, in India.
Pack your bags and get going!
ॐ शान्ति |