Don’t be shocked. I am from India, currently living in south India and even today, I do get similar reaction when I travel alone. Here is my first encounter with them.
So I was travelling to Pondicherry, alone.
Because the friends with whom I planned the trip had cancelled it at the last moment, and I didn’t want to cancel mine.
But why the hell do I even have to explain this?
I came to Bangalore, dropped my luggage at a friend’s place before embarking on my first ever solo trip (I was supposed to join a new job in Bangalore right after the trip..so relocation and stuff).
First questioning session by my friend’s parents. They just couldn’t digest the fact that someone would want to travel alone, without any particular so called need to travel.
“Who are you going with?” – “No one. I am going by myself.”
“Oh, are people going to join you there?” – “No. It’s just me.”
“Why do you need to travel alone? Are you going there for some work?” – “No no..just to see around.”
“You know someone there?” – “Yes, there is a family friend. But I am not meeting her.”
“Why maa? You should go with someone”. – “Only smile here, I don’t know how to answer that.”
Later I came to know that after I left, they kept asking my friend whether I was really travelling alone.
The next one was more interesting. It had also got me really worried for some time.
I had not booked any accommodation beforehand. I was supposed to look for one after I reached. As soon as I got down the bus, a gang of auto-rikshaw drivers surrounded me and started chattering about how the city is too far to walk and how the hotels are fuller than the fullest and bla bla until I gave in. So the autowallah took me to a hotel in Tamil quarter. I went to the reception and told them I needed a room. The receptionist (or the manager, whoever he was) looked at me for a minute.
And there starts the next questionnaire. He kept asking in Tamil, the auto driver translated, I answered in English, he translated it back, and so on.
“Are you alone?” – “Yes.”
“Why are you travelling to Pondicherry?” – “To see the city. (in my mind: what else did you expect?)”
“Are you sure?” – “What do you mean by that?”
“Why don’t you have someone with you?” – “Because I am travelling alone.” (By this time, I am a little irritated.)
“…(weird expressions)” – “Do you even have a room?”
“Sorry ma’am.. we do have a room. But we can’t give it to you. If you were with family or with friends, we would have given you. Even a couple is fine for us. But…” – “So if a single lady travels to this city, what’s she supposed to do? Sleep on the footpath?”
“Please try another hotel…”
– “…(awestruck!!! Am I a beggar for someone to tell me ‘aage jao – try the next’!! )”
We went to a couple of more hotels. The same scene repeated itself. I was terrified. But the autowallah reassured me. We left that part of the city and went to the French quarter. And thank god, the first ever hotel admitted me.
Here on, my two-day travel became a joyful one. My faith in goodness was restored. And I came back with a new learning – everything in the plate shouldn’t be sweet. It’s more fun if you balance it with enough spices. The same goes with travel too.
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