So, when I decided to go on a solo trip and broke the news,
“I don’t know why you feel the need to give me a heart attack, AGAIN!” Mom said and hung up the call.
“There’s no safety for men in India and you, being a girl, want to go on a solo trip? QUIT!” My guy best friend said.
“Carry a pepper spray,” my roomie said.
“Do you REALLY have to go? Anyway, I will give you the phone numbers of the people who live there. Call them in case of any emergency,” Another friend said.
Amidst this discussion, I have called a close friend in Kerala and asked if it’s safe to go on a solo trip. He is the one who encouraged me to go ahead. “As long as you book a decent place and are ready to explore, everything would be fine,” he reassured.
Taking his advice and all the opinions of others as a resounding ‘YES’, I have booked my tickets to Wayanad, Kerala, a day before the actual traveling date. Mind you, I haven’t planned anything. I have never stepped my foot in Kerala until then. I thought I would try going on a solo trip just for the weekend i.e., Saturday and Sunday. It’s just a solo trip on trial to see how things pan out.
I have been so lazy about booking a stay that I didn’t book one until the afternoon of Friday. Of course, I can’t go there and stay on the road. Finally, I mentally kicked myself for being lazy and booked a stay close to the bus stand and a police station (taking the worst case scenario into consideration). Since I would reach Wayanad by early morning, I had to ensure that early check-in was also allowed.
A little excited and a lot more anxious, I boarded the bus that night.
I have freshened up and had the breakfast and decided to visit Lakkidi view point from where you can view all the valleys and hills over there. The staff at the place I have stayed were quite nice and polite. Since I don’t know how to speak Malayalam, they helped me book an auto for me to go there.
The funny thing was, people over there (including the hotel staff and the auto driver) asked me if I haven’t come with my husband. Of course I laughed it off and said I am single and I came there to travel alone. They seemed to be surprised that I was traveling alone.
There comes a moment of peace when all the chaos in life are reduced to a mere white noise and you would finally realize life is too short to worry about silly things and you decide to let go. It was one of those moments there.
On the way back, I have decided to walk back to the place where I stay which is nearly 6 kilometers away. I wanted to take all that scenic beauty of Wayanad in. That got a little out of hands as I was wearing shorts over there. I have consulted my good old friend, Google for the weather forecast before starting on the trip and Google warned me that it would be hot and humid. So, I went with my shorts and skirts. I didn’t even have a single pair of pants with me. People over there don’t really wear shorts. Yes, they do stare a lot as if you are some animal that escaped from the zoo. There are a few people who started whistling and cat-calling. Honestly, that kind of freaked me out. But I was pretty sure I can protect myself. I did walk for all the six kilometers. Once I reached the place I have stayed, it felt so satisfying. I was extremely proud of myself for doing what I wanted to do without getting agitated. That was an achievement on it’s own.
Once I returned to the place where I stayed, I took my own sweet time and indulged in self-care.
The agenda of this trip is not to explore a lot of places, but to find myself, learn something new wherever I go and come back with a lot of beautiful stories and memories.
I have read a book, took a lot of self-portraits and explored a few of the local shops over there. All the time in between, all these friends of mine called me and checked upon me if I was doing fine or not. They are the best. ♡
I had to get back to work on Monday. So, I just had a couple of hours to spare in Kerala. Still, I haven’t got any plans in my head. Then I decided I would book a flight from Calicut, (a 100 kilometers away from Wayanad) to Bangalore. I thought I would figure out what I would do in Calicut, after reaching there.
I got into a bus to Calicut and that’s when I started googling where to go. There are a couple of beaches and backwaters to visit. By the way, all this while, people are still staring at me. May be it’s because I don’t look like I belong there. Anyway, all these weird stares apart, people over there are actually nice. I took an auto and asked the auto driver to take me to Kallai river. I have read that there are backwaters and you can go boating over there. Due to a miscommunication from my part, he stopped on a small bridge, in the middle of nowhere and said that that’s the Kallai bridge. The scorching sun, the three hours of bus journey to Calicut, the hunger monster roaring inside my stomach and then this disappointment of not finding the backwaters or boating like I imagined, I might have looked miserable. The auto driver took pity on me and asked me where I want to go. I was talking to him in English. Then, he gave me a list of languages he could speak. Thankfully, there was Hindi. I told him that I wanted to go to boating on backwaters. He asked me not to worry and took me to the backwaters near a beach called ‘Beypore’. He has guided me about the other places to visit too, given the limited amount of time I had then.
Funnily, even this auto driver asked me about my ‘fictional’ husband. Honestly, why?? He also asked if I don’t have pants. Lol! He said that people over there stare at girls if we wear such clothes. He offered me something he was eating. I was hungry and I actually ate half of it. Then, I remember my dad always saying in his serious tone, “Don’t ever take any eatables from strangers.” I used to mock my dad saying, “I am not a kid.” After I ate half of it, then I started flipping. “What if he drugged me with the food? What if he kidnaps me?” Fortunately, nothing of that sort happened. If you are ever going on a solo trip, DO NOT accept eatables from the strangers and freak out later.
I went for boating on this river at a bird sanctuary called ‘Kadalundi bird Sanctuary’ and made friends with this uncle who paddles the boat. He is so friendly and nice. For a person who doesn’t know Malayalam, surprisingly, the local people made it very easy to chill and have fun. He gave me this hat and asked me to take a picture with this hat.
In the hot, humid weather, running around since morning, the conversation with him was so refreshing. He gave me a smaller paddle to try paddling. It was damn heavy and I had no clue how to hold it. He taught me how to paddle the boat and offered to take pictures of me on the boat and he did take nice pictures.
It’s not even easy to hold that paddle. God only knows how he paddles the boat in that hot weather. In spite of all of this, he had this warm and cheerful aura around him.
He made sure that I had a good time there. He kept on talking about the different species of birds that live there, his livelihood, the monsoons and showed me the pictures of him with his fellow boatmen. He is so sweet that he filled my water bottle with drinking water and asked me when I would be coming back. Instead of saying goodbye, he said, “See you soon!” Isn’t he cute? It was a great experience knowing such people.
There are people who remind others that the world is not such a bad place to live and that it costs literally nothing to be kind and spread happiness. People like him are so precious.
Being an introverted person, it’s so hard to come out of my shell, talk to new people and explore the world. If I have gone on a trip with my friends, sure, I would have had a lot of fun. No doubt in that! But I wouldn’t be stepping out of my comfort zone. I would have missed out on meeting a few of the amazing people out there. I would have missed out on these new experiences and these valuable memories.
There is a high in living in the moment. There is an adrenaline rush in going unplanned.
I wouldn’t deny the fact that there will be a few challenging situations. Isn’t there a satisfaction in facing those challenges head on? I have personally felt that I became a much stronger and a better person after the trip.
I am a little more stronger than yesterday.
I am a little more peaceful than yesterday.
I am a little more ready to tackle the uncertainties that life presents.
Will I go on a solo trip again?
What do you think? Definitely, yes! It is an addiction, but in a good way.