Sharing a piece I had written in 2019 as a snippet about my thoughts on girls going on solo trips. I did not touch on any details, just wrote a small summary. Hope you guys like it.
‘Why are you girls always so angry about feminism? You can talk nicely also na’. Said a dudebro who thought Arya Stark killing the Night King was unrealistic. Why can’t she? Why can’t people move out of stereotypes? How long do women have to keep proving for men to find it ‘realistic’? Then, there is the fact that when we do ‘real’ things, no one makes it easy for us. Men (even some women), there is a whole lot of your brethren who have messed things up for us over years.
‘Why don’t more women go solo anywhere?’ some may ask. Allow me to answer why. ‘Madam, aap akele aye ho? (Madam, are you alone)’ Said the autorickshaw driver when I reached Udaipur alone for my first ever solo trip. This was right at start. A chill ran down my spine and I had to lie that my father is waiting for me at the hotel to simply avoid the situation which, by the way, did not even exist. I was proud of my quick reply. Autowallah was just asking so that I can use his service to go around in Udaipur. I have known so many scenarios of random men being creepy that I couldn’t bring myself to trust him. So to answer my very first question, that makes me angry. The oppression on women and the ingrained patriarchy and misogyny has made me angry. The constant realization of how privileged men are does not let me talk nicely.
Quite contrary to what I have heard, I never faced a pervert situation on my solo trips. Grateful for that, it does not mean they don’t exist. I had to research like crazy to ensure my own safety. The hotels I stayed at, the places I visited had all the people who wanted to help me and they encouraged me by praising that it is amazing I am traveling solo. Did that help me take my guard down? No. Did that encourage me that the situation is changing? Yes. There are so many kind people in this world, so many amazing stories that people tell you, so many places that encourage women travelers, you’d be amazed. I have only taken two solo trips so far; Udaipur in 2017 and Hyderabad in 2018. If I say solo traveling for women is easy, it would be very wrong. The fun, findings and musings that happen in the process though are totally worth it. I had to research way more, be vigilant always, avoid sticky situations but I’d do it again because I get to do what I love the most, which is to travel.
What made it worth it? So much. If I did not travel solo I’d never know that people at ‘Ramoji film city’ are super kind. They made sure I am taken complete care of as soon as they got to know I am traveling alone at the start. How else would I have met the little girl working as a guide at a fort in Udaipur in her after school hours. She told me she loves Snapchat and helping her mom do all the work? She let me in on a secret, the boys older than her who worked there as guide didn’t allow her to work because she was a small girl. ‘Wahan nahii jayenge didi, woh log mujhe nahii aane denge’ (Let’s not go there, those other guides won’t allow me as a guide). That made me angry. I tried to help her, she said she’d only take money if I allowed her to show me around. I am so proud of that little bundle of wonder and she is always in my thoughts.
I missed a lot of late night things at both places because I was alone. I skipped a lot of ‘less crowded’ places too. I mean ‘akeli ladki, khuli tijori’ and all that jazz. I got to do a lot even after those exclusions and that made me happy. I made my mom proud, I think I made my friends proud too. It has given me confidence of not being held back because I am alone and definitely not because I am a girl. If I want to eat at someplace, take another trip or simply muse around somewhere, I’ll do it. You know I think my mom wants to tell everyone around her that I went alone and had a blast but she doesn’t, she thinks people will tell her she is wrong to allow me and that makes me angry. I am grateful that I could take these trips but the fact that it has to be such a hardship for girls makes me angry.
I want the girls reading this to know that my anger is directed at those filled with patriarchy and they are not changing overnight. But out there, the world is not all bad. There are so many good things that make this so worth it. I want you guys to see the fun I had and someday I will pen down the entire journey. If it helps even one girl to take the trip she has been postponing, I’d consider it a success.