I don’t usually travel at all; but I decided to travel alone as an escape from the world that I was so used to. I wanted to get away from everything. Just be with myself.
I had no idea what it would be like to travel alone. I didn’t read up about the places that I wanted to visit. I didn’t know how to get there. I just knew I had to.
Here are the things that caught my mind during my solo trip of 4000 kms along the west coast of India –
1. The little things.
I mostly traveled long distances in trains. Usually, I’d ignore the tiniest things like the absolute greenery that the train passes through, the massive rivers that flow under the bridge with the boats sailing slowly across them, and that cute little baby across your seat that keeps smiling at you for no reason at all. I noticed all of this consciously this time and realized how much more there is to life. That it’s actually the simple things that really matter the most.
2. Meeting new people –
I met old people, people my age and people younger than I am. These people were from different parts of the country, and from other countries too. The diversity of the lifestyles that people follow is mind-boggling. It made me realize how much I still need to know despite the Internet at my fingertips.
- I made new friends which I’m sure will last a lifetime. I weirded out a few people along the way too !
- I met a couple who had only been in a long distance relationship for 7 years, and had made it work. They were married for 2 years.
It’s funny how simple things can really be, and yet a lot of them don’t get it.
- I met old people during my train journey who tried to explain life’s purpose to me. They told me how to live it ti the fullest, and how to bear with the harsh realities that we would face.
- I met 2 Americans who were my age, and who had no idea about our culture. I had the opportunity to explain a lot of the “Indian” stuff that they didn’t get, including how we eat dosa with our hands and not with knives and forks.
- I spoke to an engineer from Bangalore who seemed to know the truth of the universe. She was a modern spiritualist in search of higher truth. And our conversation lasted for about an hour, while we discussed about humanity, materialism, stupidity, love, eternity, God, fear and Yoga.
- I met the friends of that couple who I talked about earlier. They were probably closest to the friends in F.R.I.E.N.D.S that I’ve ever seen. I had the privilege to watch the sun set with them, and have dinner with them. I’m talking to them on Facebook right now as I’m writing this.
3. Experiences –
Something that happens everyday suddenly seemed like the best thing in the world – The setting sun, listening to a couple telling each other they love them, the rising sun and grown up friends chattering endlessly and bickering like children. I couldn’t just read about these things in books, or watch them in the movies. I had to be there to fully grasp how beautiful life is, and how possibilities seemed endless.
I hitchhiked a train, got ripped off by an auto-rickshaw driver, I sat in front of a homeless person in a train and experienced speechlessness as he insisted on sharing his food with me, I felt weird as I danced with hippies on a cold dark night by the beach. I couldn’t just read about any of this. I had to go with the flow and live those moments. Don’t get me wrong – going with the flow in the “teenage” sense of it is something I am against with all my heart. When I say “going with the flow”, I mean that when there’s nothing around you that is familiar, comfortable, safe, you can only live by trial and error having your moral compass intact, a.k.a. going with the flow. THEN you build on that, and build some more which eventually becomes you entire life. Pretty neat, eh?
4. Relationships –
This is the most significant part of traveling alone. You truly look at things from your perspective and are fully aware of it. You are alone there. You have no friends, except the ones you make along the way. You constantly look at those people and compare them with relationships you have in your life.
The 2 Americans who were best friends told me how inseparable they are, and were hoping to be for a long time. The young couple who told me the secret to how they were strongly in love constantly, throughout the 7 long years. The lives and relationships of hippies and how meaningful they are once you understand them. The polarity in human relationships that always exist – It’s either a “Hell no” or a “Fuck yes”. There is no in between. This notion, which already existed in my head was verified by a 13 year old girl who I talked to – about everything that I could think of.
You’ll realize how important human relationships are once you look at other people around you who are thriving because of it.
So, go ahead and travel solo. It’s going to be one hell of a journey.