What is travelling, someone asked me.. I could not get a proper answer. School days, summer vacation and Christmas used to be travelling season for us. Top of the chart was granny's house in Patna after that was the second hottest place in Bihar, Bihta my small town where Daadi maa(father's mother) used to live. Be it hot or cold, we never used to get proper electricity. During summer, we used to have hand fan sometimes even newspaper to wave the scorching heat. But the whole day heat turned out to be a blessing when we children used to hangout in the evening. I used to check my mom's mood to ask her shall I go out. Even today when I will turn 30, I have to convince her for going out. Nani Ghar (mother's mother) used to be an over pampering factory where I was delivered, manufactured and presented to my parents at an age of six. So these were my holiday destinations.
Then, what was traveling? since childhood we have been traveling, sometimes to explore, to meet and eat your heart out. So if you ask me now, I will say "Finding your path" this is all about traveling. You do it either alone or in a company.
Last birthday, I went solo, for that was the getaway for my Birthday, and I did it just the way I dreamt . Yes dreams do come true, I have made mine come true and you can too.
Old Manali was my destination for traveling solo. I had to convince my parents and my Boss to let me go. I started my journey from Delhi on 4th morning, went to Chandigarh for attending a Marriage and then on 5th morning took a bus to Manali.
#day1 , bus taken , seat taken still mind in dilemma. Shall I go or not , there were so many things I didn't plan and yet had a strong determination for doing so. Just one thought, how will I manage all on my own, where will I stay! What to see and where to explore. What if some mishappening occurs. Aahh, and then what if it turns out to be beautiful experience and even if not, it will be a learning. So I continued my journey to Old Manali. I met a copassenger on bus who helped me in booking Zostel in old Manali. It was raining when we reached in Kullu, around 5in the evening and reached Manali late. From there one needs to take an auto to old Manali which is 5km uphills. My co-passenger took me to Zostel (hostel for travellers).
Zostel is located at one such place where even the best of Google maps won't be able to locate. Serene and calm, in the midst of nature, surrounded by all localites who have been there for years. I got a bed in 4 bed girls dormitory which was empty, and the room named "Kunjum La". I unpacked and rushed to go to Soma Cafe where I had my lonely time with myself, diary, chicken burger and live music. Long lost stories come alive when you start writing, singing on the tune with some smoke around. I don't remember what was so beautiful about the place, the graffiti, live music, yellow lights or me.
The song," Maaye ri meriye, Shimle di raahein, chambaa Jana jarun" filled the ambience and I fell in Love with music once again. 1st step done right in finding my passion. Now it was the day for what I came for, my Big Day, of course my Birthday. I bought some banana cake and caramel sugar muffins, one candle and a torch. Yes, that's the most important thing you need when you travel in mountains , for finding your "Path".
#day2 , it was chilling cold and I was sitting under the sky all alone, waiting with my cake, candle and match box. Believe me, that was the most beautiful darkness I ever felt. I had a desire for being with someone special and then I thought I was born alone , survived my struggles alone then why not celebrate alone.
Of course, I can do that, yes I even sang for myself ???? The same morning, I had to change my dormitory because it was already booked. Zostel generally is almost full, so the caretaker asked me to shift to another dormitory where there were three guys already. It was actually a weird experience, I have never stayed with strangers that too boys, but then I had to. So, I agreed, there were these two guys from IIT kanpur and another hunk from U.K (United Kingdom not Uttarakhand) Kaai, basically his name was Kunal, IndoAfrican lad.
The best way to treat yourself is by giving your body and mind relaxation, what better than a Kerala Oil full body Spa near the River. I wish I had a picture to share, but it was so relaxing that I don't have any thoughts to remember. Post that, I went to hostel,took shower and started my journey to school. Yes, school, we all have celebrated our birthday since childhood and where , school. That used to be the most awaited moment for every child. I did the same, bought chocolates, my favorite pineapple cake and rushed towards Kalath, a small place near banks of river Beas.
On my way,I met Kim who was waiting for an auto to drive to bus stand and gave her lift. Kim, was from South Korea and I don't know how much time we spent during that ride but it felt like we were friends since months. Met and departed , got a hug and a lifetime of friendship.
Indo Swiss Buddhist school, which was a charitable school run by people from Switzerland who donate in this school in India, where children from Solang, spiti and ladakh used to stay and study. Children from all age group can be seen there, the youngest was in my lap and the eldest took many videos and photographs.
I had my Best Birthday, they sang for a stranger, I distributed chocolates and gave cake slice by my hand to everyone. The kids were so adorable, we danced sang together some local folks. I even danced for them I guess on some Bollywood jhatkas and matkas (hip hop) which I am always good at. The day went so quickly and it was getting late and I had to leave. Khusboo came running and gave me my 1st Kiss on my B Day.
That made up for that special someone and etc. There is this small wooden bridge approx 20ft above river which needs to be crossed from highway to this way. While you cross, it used to shake and get me nausea.
I am so freaking afraid of heights and this was my path. Noone to hold while I cross , infact noone on the other side to watch me do it right all alone. Still I did it , because I had this belief in myself how I overcame this fear. There was this small house on the other side of road where few ladies were talking and carrying stray. I asked for a big rose which grew in their garden and they were happy to let me do so, because it was my B Day. The only gift, I gifted myself.
I waved at local bus stopped it and took a ride to Manali. I went to this cafe where I had my Dinner Red Thai curry and Rice. Dim lights, a candle glowing and a rose shrub beside my table on the terrace. Manali was getting cold and so was I. Even when you travel alone and enjoy in others company there comes a point when for a fraction of second you feel I wish I hadn't lost the people I had had in my life. The next moment you make yourself strong enough to wipe your own tear falling from your left eye and then few multiple drops from other eye too.
So, post dinner what best then a surprise party in your hotel. Yes, apparently Zostel was celebrating it's 1st Birthday on 6th of May, and me being a guest they asked me to cut the cake in front of everyone.Thanks #Zostel for doing so you really ended it in a style. Nevertheless Kaai(my roommate), gave me smoke and it was just the puff or him but I loved it. One shot vodka and Dairy Milk Silk was the perfect combination. 2nd step done right, found "Happiness in the arms of Children" celebration with strangers, a never forgetting kiss and a gift.
#day 3, planned something, did something and ended it in something so weird. So, today my roommates were vacating, again new people. I thought of planning something and going with either Kaai or these guys somewhere. I had no clue what to do now, so I thought of accompanying Kaai to Rishikesh. Then, I started painting on the pillar of Zostel, yes they have these walls and pillars all painted with graffiti, proverbs and love messages. I took my paint brush and painted in black the place I wish to be next B Day.
I planned to go for paragliding , which I cancelled, then planned for Rishikesh then again cancelled. I was directionless, then I met these guys in the open area. They were having hash, yes the best quality Malana cream, which I had no idea what meant. Cream for me used to be the one I applied on my face, another on burnt area. This one was supposed to be inhaled , hit on the epiglottis and exhaled. Yes, I tried and this took me to another level of mankind. The laughs and talk although I can't remember but the moment is as fresh as it happened yesterday. Kaai left, others also said goodbye. I was so alone again in that common room, watching television or watching my phone blinking everytime I received a WhatsApp message from my Shoeman.
I learnt two things, "others journey don't affect yours, you have yours which should always be controlled by youand not in the hands of circumstances and people. Meeting anyone is destiny and letting them go if that means to be is also destiny". I had to complete my journey alone that's what I came for then why craving for a partner. The other thing I learnt was, sometimes it's okay to miss celebrations just to be with someone in virtual world even though they are miles away. I had a long conversation and felt a drift towards my Shoeman. I knew this drift might take me on a different path but that doesn't matters. After all we all our learners. I checked out that morning from Zostel, Bharat who was the caretaker there made me stay in his friend's Hotel just 5mins from there. 3rd step learnt about Love, that day made me take the most important decision of my life. The day which taught me, to stand for your decision and believe in yourself no matter what happens.
#day 4, living your dreams day, I packed my painting book, colors and phone fully charged. Rushed towards the Bank of river Beas, beside the Club house in Manali. Now the biggest question was what shall I paint! I have never taken painting classes and the mind was blank but not the eyes. I was gazing in the fast flowing Beas, the tall pine trees and blue sky.
I started with painting just the trees as they stood in front of me. Tall green , little yellow and magnificent. I loved Painting but never thought it gave me that bliss to be in that moment. Few people were staring at me while I did painting and local Chana Wala( peas seller) helped me in getting the bag packed up.
They even clicked few pictures which was so beautiful. I had done it, yes I did made my dreams come true. I was so damn Happy, had litterally tears in my eyes after seeing my own creation. I guess that's how mother's must feel when they have their child in hand. It's all about your love coming alive. I said Good bye to them, which comes out to be the most difficult part in my life. I had a bus to catch for Delhi.
I ran at the bus stop, met the same uncle at a tea stall whom I met in 2016, October. I told him, "Uncle remember you said come again, see here I am again in your Beautiful and Mesmerizing Manali." He was really happy and said, "yes I do remember you." Of course how can you not, people once meet me and just can't forget for their lifetime. That's what I am, 4th step-found her, passion in things I do. I am Aayushi, and I love the way I am. That's what you learn in solo travelling.
I lived my life the way I planned, yes all the things didn't work the way it should be and few were left behind. There were Cafe and other spots to be explored which I couldn't. This cannot stop me feel Happy about the experience which I never planned for, thats life is all about.
You learn about it and you even miss it. You love it yet cannot hold onto it. Everyone I met 'When I was Solo' taught me lesson in a way which no school or teacher can ever teach. That's the experience you gain while traveling solo. Everyday I see more dreams and I promise myself I will make them happ en.