Wednesday, June 08, 2016 , 0 Comments

McLeodganj, Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India

These days solo-travelling is on the cards. Facebook is swamped with photos of people going to hill stations, in India or abroad. Boasting of their journeys, taking cool-selfies, sharing stories is the heat of the moment! So taking dip in the same flow, I thought I should take the honor of sharing some stories of my journey too -

A very rare kind of internship this summer gave me the opportunity of solo-travelling to rural and urban North-India. Well, now I wonder what exactly does it mean -"solo travel". Haven't I been already going places on my own. Or does my boy-friend or someone else accompany me everywhere? Where exactly does the "solo-travel" start from? My entire family drops me to Delhi airport where my flight to JFK is awaiting - and where my entire paternal or maternal families come to pick me up at the JFK airport - can be called some solo-travel stunt? Huh?

I read many articles on solo-travel off lately, to enhance my own understanding of this term. And to my surprise I found out that I have been solo travelling since twenty years now. My papa has never been 'pro' when it comes to 'picking' or 'dropping'. He often used to tell me that who would accompany you in the US when you go there. And now it seems he was right!

So it turns out to me that my first visit to Delhi almost 6 years back was a first serious 'solo-trip'. Nobody came to pick me up at the busiest New Delhi Railway Station. And that continued on and on. Since then, I have solo-travelled to my hometown almost a hundred times in last 5 years.

However, my recent trip to Mcleodganj, a small town located in the narrow-high-hills of Himachal Pradesh, is a most memorable solo-travel stunt so far for me!

In north of India, if a woman (an unmarried one) travels alone, it's a different experience altogether. You have to be careful of just so many things. People judge you; they ask you non-sensical questions (are you single? what have you come here for? what kind of work exactly?); etc etc

An Indian girl in foreign or a foreigner girl in India probably would have much better experience. But an Indian girl in India travelling alone is a curse to bear! From the taxi-driver to the hotel manager, from children to oldies- all look at you with some strange look in their eyes - a look I couldn't understand what it pertains to. On my way from Dharamshala to Pathankot, the TTE asked me, where are you going to from Pathankot? I gently said - "How on earth is that your business?" Well, he might be a genuine person trying to genuinely help me for I-don't-know-what, but that's how it is. They take the liberty of asking you personal questions even more so when you're alone! My best friend suggested me that I could act like a pregnant woman, as I already have swelling tommy to support that stance, and could take advantage of being less-judged, less-harassed, or less-horrified etc.

Nevertheless, I won't say that I had only bad experiences. I met some very amazing people on my journey - from a doctor-family in the train to a struggling-family of two brothers in Pathankot to solo-traveller Navneet. On my way from Delhi to Pathankot, I learnt a lot of stuff about Power plants because of my conversations with this sweet guy Navneet who kept talking about his work and personal life experiences as if were old friends for long time. He later helped me to get to my bus to Dharamshala.

On my way back to home, I had to spend a couple of hours in Pathankot to catch my connecting train to Delhi. I chose to roam around the market than sitting idly at the platform. I happened to arrive to a small shop that sold women's accessories of all types. My little conversation with two brothers, who run that shop, made our bond so strong that they both came to drop me to my train and waited there with me until the train left at 11:30 p.m.! It felt as I had some relatives there to see me off and take care of me in the best possible manner!

In last one month, I have travelled to more than 10 cities across four states of India -from the west coast of Mumbai to North-Valleys of Dharamshala, it was an experience worth relishing. Putting up in a cottage, facing the mountains, feeling the rain and reading my favourite Ayn Rand to myself is something I am going to remember always!

If you're traveling solo or in-company, don't forget doing one thing - having FUN!


Some say he’s half man half fish, others say he’s more of a seventy/thirty split. Either way he’s a fishy bastard.