Unlike Eponine of Les Miserables, I wasn't singing "On My Own" in utter despair and hopelessness when I embarked on my first solo trip of late.
The song which played in my head was "I feel good!(tananananananan...)".
Here are the top things I learned:
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1. It’s not that scary
Well, I went to a place I’m really comfortable with to begin with- India! I had been there five other times and the local students of the meditation center I go to always pick me up to and fro the airport and arrange the other transfers. Since I would go there annually, it feels like home and there are always local people I can call if necessary.
* Be alert. When riding public transportation or while moving about, be on the look out for restless people- those who are pacing back and forth or with eyes darting from left to right. Often, they are checking the field and are on the look out for policemen to see whether or not they can pursue their evil plan. Go down the vehicle, move away from them or go near enforcers if ever you come across them.
* Be simple. Dress conservatively. Leave your bling blings at home. Try not to attract attention to yourself. This is the best prevention against the bad guys.
2. I can talk to strangers
Contrary to my mother's advice, I learned that it’s ok to talk to strangers. Some strangers I sat adjacent to in airplanes have very interesting stories. Strangers I met in Mount Abu during my annual retreats eventually became close friends.
* Be discerning. Use your detective skills to know if it’s safe to talk to a particular person or if they want to converse with you. Trust your intuition.
* Never leave your drinks with a stranger, accept food from them, or ride in their car- for precaution.
3. I love my company
Travelling on my own allowed me to simply be with myself. There was no need to consider other people’s preference or accommodate their needs. It simplified a lot of things. It also gave me a chance to sit down with myself and clear certain things. I really enjoyed the silence, too.
* Give yourself me-times. Practice being comfortable with your own company before travelling solo.
* Enjoy the journey. If you catch yourself thinking, “I wish this loved one is with me”- stop. Remember, this trip is really for you and relish every bit of it.
I will definitely travel on my own again!
P.S. This is my last post on my retreat to India. Unlike the short but myriad anecdotes I usually share with you before, my reflection on this recent trip is unfolding into one long story. It looks like it will take a while for me to finish it.