In hindsight I'd say that there comes a point when
you decide to throw caution to the winds and instead let them just carry you.
That’s possibly the only way I can explain how I am putting these thoughts to
(digital) paper all the way from Bihar far away from everything that was once
familiar. It’s still all a little too premature but one thing’s for certain: I
am a fledgling in motion.
Quick rewind: If there’s anything that remained
consistently true of my travels (in what could now be termed as the pilot phase)
it’s been the nameless Samaritans I’ve encountered along my journeys.
“Take a seat here. Be comfortable”
“Here’s my number. Don’t hesitate to give me a call
the next time you’re here”
“I can help you chalk out an itinerary”
“If you give them my reference they’ll provide you
with a 20% discount”
…I could never tire from recounting these
experiences. This is what I have come to call ‘experiencing humanity’.
I was growing tired of reading the headlines – even
the news app on my phone began reminding me that it’d been over two days since
I last read the news; I almost deleted the app just as I’d almost stopped
reading the newspaper. Why tell me that there’s been an increase in the
‘incidence of rape’ when it’s possibly an increase in the ‘incidence of rapes
Just one word makes that difference – it makes me as
a reader believe that more people are standing up and demanding for justice. It
makes another reader somewhere else want to take a stand on an issue (not
necessarily rape) they may not have had the courage for.
Those 15 months made one thing clear - Every sliver
of hope I needed I would find on the road; in exchange I’d have to leave behind
the comforts of my familiar environs. The multi-tasking sceptic with her 9 – 6
job had to be replaced. With what though? And even more importantly how?
All the reason and logic, I otherwise found myself
digging out from wherever and emphasizing on, seemed to vanish simply because
‘replacement’ felt like the right thing to do. Period. Then began the slow but
steady process of laying it all out. What did I want to achieve by taking this
step? The answers I came up with made valuing all the risks involved relative
to the reality I was basing it in.
I was already traveling enough, whether solo or not.
I was blogging consistently and it was being received well. I wanted to spread
the let’s-experience-humanity vibe beyond my own circle and beyond my own
experiences too. I wasn’t going to focus on the must-sees and must-go-tos of
the world. It wasn't my niche (just like clicking photographs of food isn't either).
If you haven’t realised it already, I was convincing
myself first that I was ready for this – ready to take up travel beyond a 24*7
preoccupation to a 24*7 activity! There would be no comfort zone. And then I
started looking around for inspiration and ideas to give my seemingly crazy
notion better shape and direction. I began to understand I wouldn’t have all
the answers all at once and definitely not right at the beginning. What I did
receive was unconditional non-judgmental support from family, friends and even
acquaintances (and occasionally strangers too) – my emphasis of course is on
the word ‘non-judgmental’. No one ever denied the risk involved – in just the
same way no one denied that the only way to know better was to undertake that
I also started looking around for opportunities I
could latch myself on to.
Could I bag a free holiday (and save on my already
Would I design travel itineraries (that let people
Did I want to take on purely travel writing
assignments (that may not always involve the travel part)?
Would I find something at the confluence of my
academic background + work ex in the development sector along with travel (if
such a thing existed that is)?
Of the lot, option 1 was most preferable but then I
factored in Murphy’s love for me and the odds of ever getting that lucky!
Everything came down to what I wanted. And at the
same time I fully acknowledged that all I could do was to be open and keep
trying. It’s a crazy balance you have to strike (and keep striking). And if you
truly let the winds carry you, what you seek comes seeking you… That’s when an
opportunity of a Fellowship came through – to travel through India and meet
NGOs with the aim of taking technology to the grassroots. I still haven’t
figured whether I ticked my fourth checkbox or whether it checked me.
Before I had any time to fully absorb what it
entailed I was packing my bags to move base from Mumbai (read: comfort zone of
the multi-tasking sceptic) to really not having a base per se. That explains
why my current location reads as Bihar.
Needless to say that experiencing
humanity is the mainstay!
Ever let the winds carry you too? Do share your experience as comments below.
Labels: being Zen, female solo traveller, India, solo travel, travel