By Somali K Chakrabarti
It’s been an exceptionally long break of about two weeks from blogging for me. Just in case you are wondering where I had disappeared, here I am back before the year end, scribbling down my thoughts. Resuming after a break sometimes becomes a bit challenging, but then I remembered the advice that I often dish out to others about blogging regularly, and pushed myself out of my self imposed hiatus.
With the year coming to an end, my stream of ideas was somehow drying up. I was also yearning for a change and wanted to break away from my routine. But, with a new member in our house– a cat named Po, a family vacation is not feasible. Po happens to be an overtly sensitive creature, who is a source of constant amusement to us but he needs to see known faces around him and he cannot be left alone overnight.
Luckily, my wish was fulfilled when I had to travel to Jaipur for a meeting. Packing my bags, I set off to Jaipur. While earlier, I have traveled alone on work to many places, I would never go alone on a vacation or for sightseeing. Since the idea of going around alone to see different places never enthused me, I would always manage to catch hold of a colleague or a friend to accompany me to see the sights of interest. At times, I would even arrange for my family to join me during holidays for visiting the attractions in different places.
But, this time it was different. I was keen to explore the Pink City all alone, get a feel of its lifestyle, culture and garner some creative inspiration, on my own. Entrusting Po to the care of my daughter, who is home on a vacation, I extended my stay to three days.
I checked out the blog Jaipur Thru My Lens !!, called up a friend who hails from Jaipur and chalked an itinerary for myself. I have shared my experiences in Jaipur in the post Jaipur: My first impressions. In this post, I share how I felt travelling alone and why I think women should experience solo travel, well at least once.
Why women should travel solo
Solo travel mandates that a person is always conscious while travelling
While the established norm is to travel with family or in a group, travelling alone requires that we are completely in charge of ourselves and are always in an aware frame of mind. This is totally in contrast to how I do when I travel with my husband or have company to bank on. I habitually tend to depend on my husband to take care of cash, ticket bookings for travel or even for managing time. When alone, I had to be prudent and mentally prepared to deal with unexpected situations –due to changes in weather conditions, people or situations. Safety was always of prime concern. The driver who ferried me to the hotel offered to drive me to Chokhi Dhani, a place for Rajasthani Village Fair & Dining, which is open in the evening till night, but I consciously avoided being out alone at night and chose to return back to the hotel before dark.
Solo travel provides expression of individuality and creative inspiration
When we go to a place for first time we perceive it in a unique way. These perceptions normalize over a period of time when we continue to stay there. While travelling solo, one can consciously grasp these perceptions without distractions. One can do or move as one likes, be unencumbered and spend as much time at a place as she wishes. So, here I was wandering around, soaking in the feel of the city, walking through the bazaar in the old city and visiting forts and museums at leisure and will, something which is not possible with a group. Solo travel is just the perfect trigger for those seeking creative inspiration.
Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way. ~Edward de Bono
Solo travel teaches people to enjoy their own company
We generally tend to seek happiness in the company of others, be it our family or friends. This particular travel taught me to be happy and contended in my own company, and enjoy the experience of each moment. Though sometimes, I would get an occasional odd glance, I was determined to be in a cheerful frame of mind throughout the journey. It was yet another attempt of moving out of my comfort zone and appreciating different things that life has to offer. In the evenings, I enjoyed the folk dance and music performance in the hotel.
The best part of the trip was that one of my college friends so liked the idea of a solo travel that she took a leave and came all the way from Jodhpur to spend a day with me, without my asking her to do so. We had an awesome time catching up after years, and together we visited the Amer fort. She took the train back to Jodhpur in the evening. That was such a wonderful surprise at the end of the year!
At the end of it, I must say that travelling solo made me feel much more confident.
Though one may prefer company for travel now I know that solo travel is one of those things that at women should do at least once.
Pictures of the trip can be found on https://www.instagram.com/schakrabarti1/
“Never did the world make a queen of a girl who hides in houses and dreams without traveling.” ― Roman Payne
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