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Confessions of a lonely woman traveller from India

The most common question I come across is: Being a woman why do you travel alone? Isn’t it risky? It’s India. It’s not safe for a woman to travel alone.

It’s something that even I ask myself once I am back at home. I can’t afford to ask this question to myself when I am travelling. The reason being is that, it will make me too tensed and cautious. If I think about the challenges, then in a way it will act as my own hindrance. And no way am I going to allow that. I won’t stand in front of a bullet but I won’t limit my steps and my inner self just because I am a woman - known as the weaker sex. (Whoever said that needs to be put through the delivery pain during childbirth).

So far I have travelled only within India Each place has its own challenges and survival tactics. It’s not scary however it’s a different survival strategy altogether.
There are few ground rules I follow. I choose my clothes sensibly and my attitude carefully. And did I say that I modify accordingly as well?
Before going anywhere I do a quick homework about the religiosity of the local people and the sentiments. At times, I have consciously avoided wearing jeans, capris i.e. anything that shows even a glimpse of my skin. I also study extensively the road maps and alternative routes along with the history and cuisine of the place.

India is no Taliban land but there are places which are still proud of its conservative ethos. They value their traditions and in a way stay apprehensive and skeptic towards anything that is outside the known cultural pattern. This is also a kind of sexually repressed country so no cleavage shows to invite any lurking demon or ogling eyes.

All these hold true more due to the fact that I travel to off-beat destinations. These places are not haunted by tourist crowd so they remain submerged in their own sweet world.
And I try not to invite trouble by being a maverick. The entire idea is to get the place under my skin and feel in its own essence. This is in its own right requires me to be one among them rather than an alien despot.

I often have people trying to be nosey and extra friendly. This in a way irritates me and invades my privacy. I meet them and pretend not to understand the language. I also don’t travel till late at night nor do I wander lonely on unknown roads after dark. I particularly prefer to stay in a good hotel because I really don’t want any peeping Tom or anyone banging my door middle of the night.

Yes I do get those frowns and strange looks from people. The most awkward is when I walk in to a roadside food shack to eat my lunch and get invited with what-the-hell-is-this-woman-doing-here kind of a look. I immediately wear my nonchalant face with a mental blanket wrapped around me.

Being a tourist hopping through the well known cities or tourist spots with a copy of Lonely Planet in your hand is easy. But being a traveler with an insatiable quest for the unknown and unseen is tough and in its own way rewarding. Yes I have challenges. But then again what are my choices? Behind me I have the four walls and its known good security calling me and in front of me I have the entire meadow of unknown world welcoming me.
I choose the less chosen and less travelled one.

Posted by Reshmi 18:03 Archived in India Tagged women

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