Jul 14, 2015

Posted by in Travel Reviews | 1 Comment

No Strings Attached!

No Strings Attached!

This Sunday, just as I was penning down this story, I stumbled upon an interesting read. ‘I Travel My Way’ is what the headline read in the Sunday section of TOI. “I actually do”, I said to myself. It was a little over a year ago after a few trips, solo and with a couple of friends that I realized how I loved experiencing the whole unfamiliarity of a new place all by myself, having the most meaningful conversations with people who didn’t even speak my language and rediscovering a new zest for life from people more than twice my age.

Most of my trips in 2014 were either with a close friend (I can actually count the one or two that I can comfortably travel with) or they started solo and I found friends in strangers as I backpacked alone through the remotest of corners in the country.

I still remember, it was January 2014 and I had packed just about everything that I could in my backpack for what was an impulsive trip to Goa. I had fought with my dad the previous night and had no idea when I was going to return. All I knew was that I had a bus ticket and a sort of a booking at a hostel in Goa and that’s it. And as it turned out, that’s all that was needed. A weeklong trip that I took just to get over some silly emotions then, is one of the best solo trips I’ve had till date. And that’s not just because it was Goa but because of the amount of ‘me’ time it gave me; the time it gave me to go to the weirdest of places in Goa with people I had met just a day before, to go on long treks and climb up those forts to watch sunset with people who were so different and yet so much like me (I do have that secret hippie inside me). Who knew that bonding with girls from LA as they regaled me stories about their sexual (sorry bisexual) conquests will make connections of a lifetime.

Wandering in Goa

Wandering in Goa

Since then every time I travel alone, I end up reflecting on how on one hand I have some amazing friends, friends who stand by me through everything, friends that I cannot imagine my life without, friends who are more like family to me, but on the other hand, when it comes to travelling, I cannot think of more than maybe one or two that I can really travel with absolutely fuss free, friends who are willing to enjoy those rustic camps as much as a luxurious pool villa with me.

In Kovalam, by the beach

In Kovalam, by the beach

As I spent some time near a river in a rural village recently, a lady asked me how I don’t get bored travelling alone. That question seems so rhetorical now. My closest pals believe I’m a little loose in the head to be going all alone to all those villages and deserts. What I can never explain to them is how important that silence is for me to absorb a new place, observe its people, interact with them and take my time to flirt with a place before moving onto another.

What have my solo travels changed in me? It is difficult to answer that question because each new trip brings with it a new learning. However every time I put a little bit of myself in a new place and its people, I come back with a new perspective. Not because I attain sudden enlightenment but because I put in an effort to have deeper conversations with people to understand their way of life. And guess what the best part is? There are no schedules, no complaints, no compromises and certainly no excuses. I can spend a whole day in a park reading a book or just stare at the mountains. I rely on an open spirit, a belief that some exciting experience is just around the bend. In return, I end up surprising myself as to how easily I overcome my inhibitions to do things totally out of my comfort zone, knowing well that I have to be responsible for myself.

Walking through the tea estates in Uttarakhand

Walking through the tea estates in Uttarakhand

It’s true and as I’ve learnt that I can have a great time over a weekend lunch with a friend, but that certainly doesn’t apply while travelling. On each of these trips, as much as I was pushing myself out of my comfort zone and dealing with my anxieties and hesitations, I was also breaking away from others’ expectations and doing these two simultaneously is no mean feat if all your travel companion wants to do is sing songs, eat great food and treat your travels like just another vacation.

Over the past year and a half, while the size of my backpack has definitely reduced (with lessons from each of my trips), what has not changed is the want to go on longer trips by myself. I want to keep going to newer places, reflect more and let new experiences subtly slide into my life.

Leaving a part of myself in Kerala

Leaving a part of myself in Kerala

 

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  1. Hi Archana,

    I’m trying to get a copy of your book “Yes, we can”. Where can I get a copy?

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