Independence Day of a Dependent Girl

Mar 06, 2020

Solo female travelling is something which we couldn't dreamt of years ago. But today the trend has increased substantially. Here to share a story of travel, we have Aditi who'll enlighten us about her day she spent in Rishikesh.

Aditi Bhatt is a post-graduate student in IIT Guwahati. She's an architect and a designer. Apart from her research and academics, she likes to sketch and travel.

I had never lived alone before college. I couldn’t perform simple activities like cleaning the room, washing clothes, cooking, shopping etc by myself. It was two days after my parents left me in the hostel that I accidentally spilled water on my study table and had a sudden realisation that my parents had bought me all the necessities but forgot to provide me a wipe. I cleaned the table somehow and called my parents. They asked me to buy one from the market but I denied because I was afraid to step out alone and eventually they had to courier me one!

I often skipped meals when someone wasn’t there to accompany me in the hostel mess. I couldn’t go to market alone to buy usual stuff and hence brought the whole lot while returning from home. There always had to be someone beside me in anything and everything. Therefore I had to compromise due to others in anything and everything.

I needed to overcome this so, I decided to spend a day alone, away from acquaintances; and planned to go on a short one day trip to Rishikesh. I chose Rishikesh because it is very near and I had already visited it with friends. I read numerous travelogues and even consulted Dani, my Australian friend whom I met in Auroville while she was travelling alone. I prepared a list of requisites and packed. I slept with a dubious head and a scarily excited heart!

The next day was August 15, independence day. I woke up with turbulent thoughts and got ready, checking and rechecking my bag pack. It was time to leave! I caught a direct bus from Roorkee to Rishikesh and sat beside a window. As the bus sped, I realised that though I had looked outside the window while travelling with friends, I never actually saw what lies outside the window! There were numerous buildings and fields midway that came to my notice this time. The sight of the swift waters of Ganga Canal was tranquillising.

I reached within 2 hours and took a Vikram (public auto) wherin I had to sit in front with the driver due to unavailability of space behind. The ride was an entirely new experience and refreshing. I went to Ram Jhula and stood at the centre of the bridge while the cool breeze tickled my skin and blew my hair.

I walked to the Lakshman Jhula which is around 2 km from Ram Jhula. The bridges were painted in tricolour and held miniatures of national flag.

Passers by were greeting and smiling and I was reciprocating and walking freely along the flags.

I went to the German Cafe near Lakshman Jhula and ordered momos. I began reading a novel that I had brought along when a foreigner sat beside. He was bald and seemed in his mid 50s. And then a thought struck me to begin a conversation with him. I introduced myself and asked about him and was surprised to hear that he was working upon energy efficiency and conservation. Being an architecture student, I possess similar interests and we broke into a healthy conversation.

Hearing about my experiences in Auroville, a village which entirely runs on the aspects of sustainability, he turned thrilled to visit soon and even made a video of mine while I described about the village. We chatted for about an hour and then he left handing me over his card.

I spotted a cosy corner thereafter and ordered a pancake. The view from the window was very peaceful and I resumed reading the novel. I could grasp the book contents better and was actually enjoying staying alone.

The pancake arrived but I didn’t know how to use fork and knife while eating so, I learnt it there and then on YouTube. This in itself was a small achievement!

I was so in love with the view that I started sketching it and could relate more while drawing the details of the veritable natural and building elements.

I could see the beauty, hear the melody, smell the fragrance, taste the sugar and feel the freedom.

It was about to get dark and I had to catch the bus on time. I left the cafe and walked to reach the main road where I picked a Vikram. There was a group of Spanish girls with whom I chatted for a while till the Bus Adda arrived. I caught the bus on time and reached hostel at around 9 pm.

I know I didn’t do something happening or out of the blue. I just did what I liked and that was the thing! When you travel alone, you don’t owe anyone any shit and do however “you” feel like. I like walking, reading and sketching so I walked, read and sketched. You come to know yourself, you come to see yourself, you come to feel yourself.

I had celebrated Independence day before but this time, I celebrated “independence”. I had left alone but returned with myself.