Everybody needs a reason to travel solo. I, too, had mine. I am a Delhiite who had never ventured outside the city for studies or even for a job prior to my maiden visit to Kasol.
However, while surfing through a social networking site, I once encountered a friend’s picture that showed him on a river side with a beautiful view of hills in the background. I got so thrilled by the view that I desired to have an encounter with the scenery first hand.
This place was Kasol.
A few days later, I went to Paharganj (a popular flea market in New Delhi), bought a knapsack and started packing for a trip to Kasol a day later.
I had never booked a ticket be it of a bus, or train or plane. So, travelling and before that, making arrangements for it, was an unexplored territory for me. Thanks to some technical glitches, I failed to book a ticket on the Himachal Tourism website, so I went to the ISBT (Inter State Bus Terminal), looked for the window of Himachal Transport Corporation for a “ticket to Kasol”.
“Just one ticket!?!” wondered the man behind the window at the oddity of request.
I just smiled, exhibiting a sense of conviction adulterated with a fleck of trepidation. With the ticket tightly clasped in my hand, I reminded myself of the grandma’s preaching (taught to me nearly 20 years ago) of holding your possession (such as cash and ticket) tightly when you are going far off.
As I never travelled far off anywhere, so her teaching was never put to practice.
It might be quite normal and stimulating for the hundreds of thousands of solo travelers but experiencing it first hand, that too for the first time, has some unique experiences that can neither be felt in someone else’s blogpost nor can be anticipated before the sojourn.
So, my sojourn began that day around 8 pm. As I sat in the Volvo bus of Himachal Pradesh Transport Corporation at one of the back seats, a young man from Nagaland (who would turn out to be my companion for next 12 hours) sitting next to me asked inquisitively, “Travelling alone? Won’t you get bored?”
Though he, too, was alone but he was going on a business trip and would alight enroute to Himachal. When I tried to put up a brave front and said, “Yes I wanted to spend some time with myself?” He got even more surprised, rolled his eyes, and looked at me with a broad smirk and remarked rhetorically, “Okay!”
However, he turned out to be very considerate, and gave me good company and even his jacket (without my asking for it) for some time as the weather turned chilly as the bus climbed uphill in the mountains. All in all, he didn’t let me feel that I was alone, at least till the time he got down around 100 kms ahead of Himachal.