I’ve always been very vocal about my love for travel. However, I’ve never written much about the downside of being an Indian female solo traveller in India. At no point, did I imagine that I would write something like this, but my recent experiences led me to do so. Just a word of caution that this post is not to discourage anyone from traveling, these are a few instances that I came across. Moreover, I don’t mean to target any particular place or state. However, when you travel, your trip can go very smoothly, and you might not even face any issues.
Instance 1: Following a pleasant visit to all the sightseeing spots around Bhuj, I settled in my room after receiving a sweet token of wishes from the hotel staff on the eve of Diwali. I found a few disturbing messages from the auto guy, who had dropped me from the airport, saying he wants to be “friends with me” and “talk to me all night” etc. Usually, I haven’t faced such issues at popular tourist destinations. This experience left me outright disappointed.
Instance 2: During my travel at Rajasthan, I took a train back to Jaipur from Jaisalmer. A local tourist happened to sit beside me. Since he was an old man, I didn’t want to be rude to him. When he asked me questions about what I do for a living and my other whereabouts, I politely responded. Later, he turned the conversation against me and started telling me that it was because of girls “like me” that men are losing control over the family, and things (like having children) aren’t happening on time. He added that earlier when girls and boys would get married at a younger age the boy would take up responsibilities and earn for the family, so the girl would respect the boy, and the boy would have control over the family. I politely responded saying that even my parents broke that trend and got married at an “older age” much unlike the rest of the society.
Instance 3: At Indore, I took a cab to Omkareshwar. I got an edgy vibe from the cab driver but ignored it. He kept giving me suggestions about places I could go, etc., some of which were useful. Later, he went on to ask me a typical question (which is a common phenomenon among local tourists across India): “Can I take a selfie with you?” I said “No.” I’ve seen many Indians do this with foreigners, and I personally find it annoying. Afterwards once I was back he kept trying to call me on my phone, so I raised a complaint with the cab company.
Instance 4: This experience again comes from Gujarat at Dwarka station where I was taking the train to Somnath. Unfortunately, my train was delayed. The moment I entered the station I was in utter shock when I saw a number of people (who seemed educated) sitting on the train platform having dinner with numerous boxes open, while cows and buffalos were also wandering around. After seeing this, I really needed a place to sit. I found a place beside a middle-aged man who was sitting with his mother. Later when he tried to ask me personal questions after trickily distracting his mother, I had no choice but to walk away.
There were few other situations, for example, a guide at Jaisalmer, who tried to ask me to spend the evening with him, or a random stranger who tried to follow me at Diu, or some eve-teasing on the streets of Bhopal. Do remember that these are the only few shady experiences from the countless times I’ve travelled. My heart goes out to all the solo travellers, especially females who chase their dreams despite all the risks out there. If you don’t step outside your comfort zone, you would never know. Even so, it is worth all the effort when you get to see places you’ve always wanted to explore. Just make sure you know when and where to be vigilant.
PS: What do you guys think about the pictures I’ve been taking myself, including the cover picture. 😉