Do I qualify to write this piece?
Well, I don’t care. I am going to write it now and you can proceed with assessing my qualification for it.
In the last couple of years I have traveled solo to Srinagar, Nainital, Lucknow, Pune, Pondicherry, Goa, Kerala, Chennai, not sure if I am missing some more destinations I covered. It’s been within India, I haven’t had much money in the last few years to travel abroad since I had an education loan to pay and then, somewhere, I got laid off by a cunt of a man I used to work for.
Now, it is a fairly valid question: Why the fuck do I travel solo?
- Well, see, I am single and being single, it would take meticulous planning to find friends (who are married) and align their schedules to my schedule and then figure out when we could travel. I do not think I have the patience. Actually, this is one of the main reasons. I do not have the patience. I am 32, at the time of writing this and I am not married. Go to hell.
- I love traveling. When I travel solo, without friends or family, I can just what I like, go wherever I like, talk to strangers and be answerable to none. It is the essence of freedom- not being answerable to anyone.
- It is fairly liberating to not depend on people. Trust me; it is not a great thing always since my folks (friends, family) know that I will not wait for them, because I will not wait for them.
There are a few things that you need to know if you would like to travel by yourselves. Allow me give you the perspective, the good and the bad, so you know.
The people who travel solo, I think, are in love with themselves and they are highly independent people-all of them. It takes a fair amount of courage, confidence and maverick (retarded) mindset to venture to a new place, all by your company.
There are few things you need to get your mind around:
- The cost of traveling solo is high per unit because you are the only unit. Did you understand this? Go open your Geography book otherwise from high school.
- The cost of rooms-single or double don’t vary much. They may call it a single occupancy room but that does not mean that they will give you a cot inside. It’s a double bed and hence you have to spread your body wide on the bed to justify the price you pay for the room
- Wherever you travel to experience the place-the boat, a horse, a shikara (it’s a boat) or whatever the fuck, the costs in the industry are not aligned for solo travelers-they are all aligned with families or couples traveling. What they are trying to tell you is, if you are solo, go fuck yourselves.
Now, there are more repercussions, especially since you are traveling in India, a country enmeshed in stereotypes. Every second person assumes the right to ask you, ‘Why didn’t you bring madam?’ The fuckers assume that there is a madam.
When I tell them, I am not married; they ask ‘Girlfriend?’ I tell them I bring the next time I am around. Idiots!
Recently, I was in Alleppy in Kerala and part of a group of 15 travelers on a rice boat where I was the only Indian national. The guide sympathetically placed his hand on my shoulder and asked me if I was traveling by myself. He was surprised when I told him I am from Delhi and was by myself. Later, I managed to win him over, I guess. On a horse ride in Nainital or one of the hill stations, the guy promised me a discount when I bring along the madam the next time around.
I carry books and my laptop so I can read and if I am tired off traveling, write something I feel like. By the way, I have written 2 books. You see, I don’t have a madam and my books don’t sell, yet. This is why I travel solo, because I am just so royally fucked up by destiny.
Phew! I do not have many friends or know a lot of people who travel solo. However, the great news is that you always find people who are traveling by themselves. I found this rather old man traveling from Germany on a beach recently and I asked him,
“Are you by yourself?”
“Where are you from?”
This was the entire conversation. I watched him from a distance. He took off his clothes and jumped straight into the sea and floated and I walked away, watching hum float.
I wonder what his story was.
It takes a bit of rebellion against your destiny to do it often. I know that I would want company, on some of those trips-someone crazy enough to wander into the unknown with me. I wait.
But, that’s the crux. You know find people like those often- people who don’t care about other people when they make their decisions, people who have the courage to follow their song and go where it takes them.
I guess this is a part of my story.
To travel solo, is to be, to exist, a point to be made, every time I pack by bag.