It’s not very “vacation”-esque or relaxing.
It’s not the refuge of the rueful, for one!
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We live in a world where you've got to a) be yourself, b) be different, c) be extraordinary. Whatever you do, you've got to be somebody. Run of the mill won't do. We're constantly searching for an identity. Something to latch on to. Something that defines us just a little bit more. A new tattoo maybe? A different hobby. A rare profession. A vacation to an off-beat place... And then somebody says to us -- you are nobody. And the world comes crashing down on us.
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In some publications you'll see India portrayed as perfect, clean, and full of incredibly nice locals there to help you travel. Others like mainstream news say it's a no-go zone and imply you'll basically be raped upon exiting the airport. Neither of these drastic views is the truth!
As you finally broach the topic of setting out solo, there's a sequence of reactions from the family. It starts with the calm before the storm, an air of hushed incomprehension. Then the eyebrows go up a fraction. And then all hell breaks loose. There are cackles of disbelief, wails of lament. How can our daughter even think this way? Could a demon have possessed her? Hope is reposed in divine forces. God will help us, he will cure her of these unholy thoughts.
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"How did your parents allow you to go?" is an often asked question. I still get this, even though I haven't been home for the past four months. The underlying question, I believe is, "How do your parents trust you?"
Travelling by myself also helped me uncover elements of my personality that had remained hidden until then. I spent hours listening to the stories of my co-passengers, made friends with strangers, had conversations with taxi-drivers, auto wallahs, and shopkeepers (something, the shy, reticent woman in me had never been able to do until then).