This is the second of a series of experiences that I collected from female solo travellers who went around India. For the full list click here.
Tania, 34, from the Canary Islands
How long did you stay in India?
Approximately 6 months – I was there between the 19th December 2015 and 6th June 2016 – I just left for 3 weeks in Nepal in between.
Which places did you visit?
Kerala: Kozhikode, Thalassery, Palakkad, Cochin, Ernakulam, Vypin, Alappuzha, Kollan, Varkala, Munnar – Tamil Nadur: Madurai – Karnataka: Madurai, Belgalore – Goa: Margao, Patnem, Palolem – Maharastra: Mumbai, Aurangabad, Jalgaon – Uttar Pradesh: Agra, Benares – Uttarakhand: Rishikesh – Madhya Pradesh: Khajurajo – Rajastan: Jaipur – Himachal Pradesh: Dharamsala, Manali, Mandi – Chandigarh – New Delhi
What did you do when you had to move from one place to the other?
In the South the most common thing was to take sleeper trains to travel during the night, this way you save up on lodging as well as time. In the North, it was more common to find local buses and or touristic once that connected the various cities, but when I could I took trains as well.
To move within the cities I took rickshaws, motorized rickshaws, and Uber taxis. When I had to go in and out of India for Visa requirements, I used planes and buses. In cities with backwaters I used boats and canoes because it shortened distances. In Delhi, specifically I used the metro to go from a neighbourhood to the other or to the airport.
Maybe the best experience was a trip by motorbike from Dharamsala to Manali, until Chandighar on a Royal Enfield!
Did you ever feel threatened?
Never. I only remember 3 uncomfortable situations:
- On a train from Delhi to a village close to Rishikesh there was a man who looked disturbed. I was alone in the train carriage, he sat in front of me and wouldn’t stop staring at me. It was enough to get up, grab my stuff and change carriage to get out of this uncomfortable situation.
- During the Holi Fest celebrations, where a massive amount of people gets together, I was with a group of friends and we got stuck in a junction with thousands of people. The younger people tried (and many times managed) to grab the girls in the group.
- Getting back to the hostel after the Pooja in the Varanasi Ghats, it got dark and some men were telling me not such nice things and they were getting closer. The night was gorgeous and I would have liked to stay out longer and stroll around but because I was alone, I had to get back to the hostel. It was the first time I envied the girls who were accompanied.
Tell us a story where you were impressed by the kindness of people towards you:
Once I felt suddenly sick while I was out in the streets and I totally depended on the help of “strangers” I met on the way, mostly locals who accompanied me back to the hostel. They were my guardian angels who took me safely back.
Anything else you want to add?
Women, in general, here or there, have limitations, even though it sucks to admit it, we have to. The sad thing is that you have to accept it, in a certain way, to survive. We have to try to pass unnoticed and not look as pretty as we’d like, sleep the nights (even though the moon and the stars are splendid outside and we feel like a moonlit stroll). If you are alone and you don’t know the city in which you’re moving, wait and visit it during the day.
When a situation alerts you, without any fear or behavioural norms, leave. Always pay attention to your sixth sense. Reflect back the same facial expression that makes you uncomfortable, to make them feel uncomfortable. Use your smile, kindness and common sense and I assure you that you will enjoy your journey 100%.
Fear will attract the situations you’re scared of – stop fear, trust and travel! Don’t let it stop you!
Your mind and the big monsters it creates, are very far away from reality.
Prejudices, fear and everything they have told you, mix up together and result in monsters. Once I faced them, I realized they were all a product of my imagination.
I started travelling in the South of India and travelling up to the North scared me, especially the big cities, of which I had been warned both by people I met and things I read.
I arrived in Mumbai while it was getting dark, with many fears. It couldn’t have been further from reality. It was a big city where women had my same kind of lifestyle – quite westernized – and I could move around the city by night, much more comfortably than in a small village where you saw no one at night in the streets, let alone women.
Same in Delhi, being a big city, I felt pretty comfortable moving around in it. The metro was my greatest discovery. What a great invention the wagons and spaces reserved for only women! They seem to give you life, energy! You find them on buses, trains, metroes and also in the stations. Woohoo for Ladies Restrooms! <3 <3 <3 They make your travelling much easier!