Kids click photographs for teasing their peers. Their whole idea of traveling is to impress others.
Adults don't care about the pictures. They just keep things with themselves without realizing the power of sharing.
Legends absorb the beauty through their eyes and camera. They narrate the journey by blending their experiences with eye soothing pictures.
Unfortunately, I started my first solo trip as an adult. Don't expect any great clicks. To add insult to injury, I deleted my pics also (side effects of the adult category). So, I'll narrate my journey by sharing my experiences alone with the hope of touching the legend position. The pics, only five, which you'll see are from my Facebook collection.
My Mom was Right
How does one react on reaching the destination?
The idea to explore new places lift up the mood. The eyes lit up in the hope to meet the locals and understand their culture and tradition. Travel exhaustion, from the tiring journey, comes to an end.
I wish I could say the same for my first two-day solo trip from Delhi to Jaipur. After stepping out of my bus at 7 in the morning, this horrible question came to my mind:
How will I spend my whole day all alone?
While people were busy collecting their luggage, I was recollecting my thoughts on my decision to travel alone. My mother’s advice “Plan your trip with friends. Who goes on a solo trip?” looked so practical.
This awkward situation didn’t start from the morning arrival time. The roots were planted when I was searching for my Delhi-Jaipur bus a night before.
Still, My Mom is Right
I was super excited to pack my bag for the trip. My mother was against the plans, but she gave me the list of endless instructions for my safe journey. Though I was nodding my head with her every instruction, I was busy sketching the visual road map of my trip.
The jittery feeling kicked in when I left the known territory of the metro crowd. With a bag on my back, no fear in mind, I was asking my bus stop location to random strangers at 11 in the night.
At that time, I realized my solo journey had already begun. I could sense the drop in enthusiasm because the idea of wandering all alone was slowly calming down my excitement levels.
The worst decision was to book the last sleeping compartment on the bus. For the first time, I was angry with the state government officials for the bumpy roads.
I didn’t ask for the compartment’s length before booking my ticket. I spent the whole night with bent legs and bumpy surprises. With eyes wide open in the dark tunnel like compartment, I felt disgusted for taking the solo trip decision.
NOTE: If you scroll down to the bottom (second last underlined bold sub-heading), you'll understand why my mom is still right.
Red Eyes to Eyes in Awe
With red eyes, screaming for sleep, I bow down to the mighty rising sun at Jaipur bus stop. I took the local transport to head towards Amer fort- a masterpiece made up of sandstone and marble.
To minimize my travel spending, I didn’t take the elephant ride through the narrow Sun gate. One rickshaw driver told me that Fort stands on the Cheel ka Teela (Hill of Eagles) and it derived its name from Amba, the Mother Goddess Durga.
As soon I entered the first main courtyard, Jalebi Chowk, I was taken back to the ancient time. I visualized how armies would gather at that place, Maharaja Sawai Jai Singh would inspect them, and Royal family’s women peeped through the latticed windows.
In case of attack, an escape route was designed where royal family members and others could quickly shift to the Jaigarh fort through a subterranean passage. The main attractions like Diwan-i-Khas, Diwan-i-am, Sheesh Mahal, and the Sukh Niwas took away my morning's mental ramblings.
A Hand Came from Back
Being surrounded by the lively crowd from different nationalities, I didn’t experience the same vibe. I felt hollow from within despite absorbing the majestic masterpiece built by Raja Man Singh.
Without losing hope, I headed toward Hawa Mahal- Palaces of the wind built specifically for the ladies of royal household by Maharaja Sawai Pratap Singh to watch the daily hustle of the common people.
While standing at the ticket counter, a hand came on my shoulder from the back. As I turned back, I saw a person with a backpack. Seeing me alone, he asked me with the hope of joining, “Are you traveling alone?” I said ‘yes’ without giving it a second thought.
Different Origin. Same Vision
These unplanned encounters makes the solo trip more enjoyable. Both of us initiated the journey from different places to escape from the daily routine and enjoy the freshness of a new location.
What happens when the plan go wrong?
The stress comes in due to the inability to live up to the expectations and control the circumstances. The more detailed our plans, the more is the probability of things going wrong.
But, we just gave ourselves to the moment.
No planning. No expectations. No disappointments.
During lunch, we discussed our life journey at length. To my surprise, we were staying in the same hostel, Zostel. I booked this hotel in the hope of meeting bag packers from different backgrounds. I was having lunch with the backpacker from the same hostel. What a lovely coincidence!
Who doesn't like this?
In the evening, all the backpackers gathered on the terrace, and we sat in a circle on chairs. On my left, was a teacher from Sweden who was on the last leg of her Jaipur trip and was planning to visit Varanasi.
It was awesome to sit beside an individual from a Scandinavian country where I wish to go and settle for any reason. On my right, was a growth marketer from Mexico sharing his strategies. As we came across some similar topic of interests, I had a great time discussing the marketing topics with him.
I shared my blogging journey with both of them and others. Everyone was sharing their travel stories. Being a first-time traveler, I heard them with full patience and interest.
Love this Intelligent Move Behind the Structure
Next day, I booked a cab for the round trip with my friend, whom I met at Jal Mahal, to Jaigarh and Nahargarh fort. Situated in the Aravalli mountain ranges in Jaipur, the Nahargarh fort got its name from the Prince Nahar Singh Bhomia and the place was believed to be the abode of tigers.
Though the Fort was built for defense purpose, it was never under attack. The palace, built by Sawai Madho Singh, had twelve matching suites for every twelve queens. The structure was planned in such a way that his visit to a particular queen was unnoticed by the eleven others. An intelligent move to avoid the cat fight.
Jaigarh, built by Sawai Jai Singh II, houses the world’s largest canon- Jaiban. Apart from complex, museum, temple, assembly hall of the warriors, and armory, the fort places significance for the escape route to protect the royal families of the Amer Fort in times of crisis. At Lalit Mandir, we thoroughly enjoyed the puppet dance.
To re-create the dining and kitchen area, spaces were designed for the visitors to see the separate sections of both men and women through glass and grill windows.
Kudos to the Jaipur Government
While coming back to our hotel, we visited Jal Mahal- one of the most incredible sights in Jaipur situated in the center of Man Sagar Lake. Government continuous effort has turned this abandoned palace with a foul smelling outlet into a tourist attraction.
Opposite to Jal Mahal road was a line of restaurants and hotels. One funny incident happened during our lunch. When we told the waiter to bring Dal Bati Churma, a traditional Rajasthani dish, he denied our order.
According to him, to relish the taste of this authentic dish, one must try the homemade recipe, not the ones cooked at restaurants. We obeyed his advice by thinking how one could be so honest with the reviews.
One Hour Packed with Magical Performance
As most of my hostel mates came before me and covered most of the places in Jaipur, they planned to visit the nearby cinema hall and watch a movie. I dropped the idea along with my new friend.
We booked the tickets for a Hawa Mahal music show. The one-hour performance, jam-packed with folk music and dance glorifying the rich culture of Rajasthan, was a treat for the eyes. I couldn’t resist myself taking a picture with the band members.
Sweet Bus Stop Dilemma
After the show, our short and memorable two-day journey came to an end. As I posted a Jaipur trip update on Facebook, my blogger friend contacted me for the meetup.
On his bike, we explored the modern section of the city. As we were meeting for the first time, time flew by so fast. With him, I didn’t find any difficulty locating my departure spot back to Delhi.
I was hesitant to leave Delhi bus stop for starting my solo journey. I felt the same at Jaipur bus stop for ending my solo journey. The stops were different, but the dilemma was the same.
After reaching and leaving Jaipur, I was in two minds. The main difference was the shift in my emotions. Earlier, I didn't know whether I took the right decision to start a solo trip. In the end, I didn’t know whether it was the right time to leave the magnificent city of hospitality. I wanted to explore more places to experience the positive vibes from the locals.
Revisiting: Still, My Mom is Right
If you have scrolled to the bottom without reading the rest section, we belong to the same inpatient category. A virtual high five, coming your way. If you haven't, respect for your patience level.
Though my mom was reluctant about my solo trip decision, her intention was clear as crystal. Being an overprotective parent, she was concerned about me. While having the verbal clash with her, I missed the important part. I didn't understand the mental tsunami inside her to answer the following questions:
How will my son cope up in the new place?
What if someone tries to fool him?
Why can't he go with at least one friend?
How will he pass the time?
If I haven't heard of solo trip before, how can I convince myself to send him alone?
My mom was not wrong because her framework was based on her expectations only. So, she was right about her perception of solo traveling.
Experience Always take the Lead
I was also convinced with her idea. With no hands-on experience, I kept fighting with the hope of shifting her to my school of thought.
After completing my journey, I came out of the confusion web. I realized that other's expectation always takes a back seat when it comes to self-experience.
Solo travel changed my thinking:
I shifted from "Why my mom can't understand a simple logic?" to "Why didn't I understand my mom's feelings?"
No one was wrong. No one was right. It's just the experiences which make the situation dull or bright.
P.S. At last, I found this pic with my buddy. You'll find his reflection in the mirror. I'm in the background, trying to be creative, with a camera on my face. What should we call it? Share your thoughts in the comment section.
Mirtwofie (mirror two people selfie)? Single-face-Mirtwofie (such a long name)? I can't come up with a suitable name. Suggest something.