Solo Backpacking across Ladakh as an Indian Female:
It is almost imperative for a twenty something woman, and an Indian at that, to step out of that protective wing of her family and neighborhood above her. It would be unfair to put the entire blame on the society in question, because you have to admit, this is so deep rooted a custom that we have accepted it - voluntarily or subconsciously.
Just a few months ago at Leh, while I sat eating chicken momos for dinner at my guesthouse, a Bengali lady approached me and we got into a conversation. She was astounded not at how ‘daring’ I was to take a 3 day long roadtrip from Delhi (well, damn I was) but how my parents allowed me. How they even let me do something crazy like going to some place that is not my hometown all alone. She went on about how she wanted to go to Manali from Delhi for a week, but her parents and note, husband wouldn’t let her. Let you?! It’s your life! But that is me, being insensitive. Not everybody has cool parents like me.
Know one thing - once an Indian female, you’ll always under 'care’ and observation. There are rules and regulations and lines that should not be crossed and yada yada yada. But now I’d be talking about a subject that is so cliche, nobody pays attention to it anymore. The point is to step out of it, without breaking or insulting personal bonds and I’m speaking in the Indian context only. You, as a reader, should also understand that WE - both of us - belong to that tiny fraction of minority in India that has access to Internet, to other traditions and customs outside of our society, the ability to analyse the pros and cons of differing ideals and to acknowledge, if not welcome, change. Mindsets are, after all, not altered overnight.
In the end, travelling should mean nothing but exploring the different environments that are around you, to see how different people live in this huge huge diverse world. There is so much to see, so much to do and so much to learn out of these experiences. Call it pretentious soul searching if you must, but in the end you have to admit, it is a BLOODY HUGE DEAL for an Indian woman especially if you’re travelling around alone. If you have done it successful, you know the exact feeling I’m talking about.