SETTING OUT SOLO...
First things first, my brush with the concept – Something unheard of and alien to the common Indian traveller or ‘tourist’ as we call ourselves. I remember the myriad reactions the statement that I was travelling alone evoked – ‘But you did not get any friends along? ’, ‘But Why?, ’But surely someone would be joining you?’, and so on and so forth. Emotions on display ranged from giving “The Look”, raised eyebrows, a suspicious roving eye and the incredulous-and-in-awe-stare! This accompanied by a couple of words thrown in – courageous, brave, be safe et al. Thus continued the barrage of newfound well wishers, both Indians and foreigners.
Nonetheless me being me, all this and much more only strengthened my resolve to set out on this epic journey, my very own version of wandering into the unknown! A journey where only me, myself and my thoughts would keep me company for the next 21 days ahead!
Me – brimming with a cauldron of emotions for finally being able to shove aside all fears and Just Go! Emotions ranging from self-doubt, excitement, anticipation, and many more! I especially felt more confident once I had shut out all nagging thoughts which my over-thinking over-analysing mind had been dwelling over or days together! Maybe sometimes you just have to create a positive mental block and a go for what your heart pull you toward!
And rightly so. As I discovered, travelling solo as a female backpacker is fine balance between solitude and companionship. The art of it lies in opening up to the right people while exerting the optimum level of caution. For me, I reveled in the new-found window to the world around, and more importantly window to myself. Of course the choice of destinations – pristine locations tucked away in the mountains and valleys of the Himalayas helped! Armed with nothing but my backpack and thoughts, it gave me a chance to sit back and observe – soak in the culture, beauty of the people and places. To relax and rejuvenate, to be my own friend for those 21 days. To be immersed in my own thoughts, thoughts if followed closely have the power to change you. Learn. Transform. In a way that no dingy textbook can teach. Travelling solo to the popular and the forlorn has been a vent to the “real me”, without the facade of a mask – The true creative me! A means to ponder, introspect, write, read as I be One with the pristine nature that surrounds.
A journey into the lap of nature, more importantly a journey into self-discovery as I had candid conversations with people from different walks of life! An Israeli singer teaching Hindustani classical music, A French girl teaching at DU, a horticulturist entrepreneur, Tibetan hostel owners, a budding law student spending a month of aloofness with only books for company! So much to grasp! So much to see! So much to learn! And more importantly I got a glimpse of the inherent goodness of human beings – Something which appears so lost in our mundane urban existences and yet flashes as brilliant flecks in the most unexpected moments! These are the moments that warm your heart and soul, a warm fuzzy comfort and a hope for the future of mankind!
Backpacking solo and travelling as the locals do across mounts and valleys of Himachal – for me it has been a leap of faith – into total Freedom! Total oblivion – where you are just a speck in a larger scheme of things – far removed from the flashy degrees and the phony accents. Where you are JUST YOU – as seen, heard, sensed. No fancy add-ons to define you and your worth. No baggage. No frills.
I DISCOVERED all this. And much more. I discovered somewhere the lost me – independent, free-willed and spirited, responsible, confident. Raring to go and take on the world!
I IMBIBED. Being a judge of people. Being on constant alert. Being a conversationalist. Being an appreciator of the smallest of things that are capable of giving unprecedented joy!
And I EMBRACED. A sense of peace. Peace with the world. More importantly, peace with Myself