“And how will you be traveling to Manali, beta?”, asked my lawyer of an uncle as he ate a spoonful of rajma-rice. “Oh, I’ll be taking my car”. He paused for a second, with his hand left dwindling mid-air. “But Manali is too far and you’re traveling with two other girls. How will you do it?” I wanted to thank him for reminding me of my sex but such rhetoric wouldn’t have played well in a room full of middle-aged relatives.
It’s funny I had always thought of lawyers as cognitive and liberal professionals, but I suppose one should never underestimate a 50-something old Indian uncle. Alas, if you’re a single woman who loves to travel every chance she gets, convincing the society that you don’t need a man’s assistance to go out and see the world can be an impatient path only treaded by the brave. If it were up to me, I’d be on the go at least once a month. I thought traveling was essential to my being, but the word ‘essential’ took an altogether different meaning during the lockdown.
Pandemic restrictions have either stalled or limited our travel plans. But after months of sitting at home, I decided to give in. My girls and I planned on visiting Manali. We looked at various hotels, some expensive and a few that were right on the budget. After careful deliberation, we zeroed in on Hotel Himalayan Heights. A quaint budget hotel located two kilometres from the Manali mall road. The rooms were comfortable for a party of three and the balcony overlooked massive snow-capped Himalayan peaks that kissed the clouds as they zoomed past.