“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world” – This quote from Freya stark always got me interested. I wanted to feel the same feeling. I grew up in an Indian middleclass family surrounded by people. I shared my room with my sister so there was no concept of ‘me’ time. After I got married, I stayed in a joint family for few years, so yet again not much ‘me’ time. After 4 years when I moved out, I got pregnant immediately and had a baby. So I always craved for alone time where I could hear my own inner voice. I read and heard about people travelling alone and found it extremely aspirational and adventurous. When you travel alone, by default you meet more people, learn more about the culture, you are more explorative as there is nothing to distract you. I even told my husband that a month alone travel is in my bucket list that I need to do in this life. Whenever I saw lone travelers, I found them interesting and was anxious about their whereabouts. I met another such person in my last trip to Bali but this time it was different.
We were living in a small heritage hotel which had individual cottages. We checked in the hotel around 8p.m. As I was entering into my cottage, I noticed a German guy who must be in his early 40s. He was reading a book, sitting in his balcony in the cottage next to mine. The next morning when we left for our day trip, he was still sitting their reading. By then I figured he is travelling alone. We looked at each other and wished good morning. After our day trip, we came back to our cottage in the evening; this man was still sitting on the same chair, in the same balcony, reading the same book. So out of my curiosity and anxiety about lone travelers, I smiled at him and…
Me: Looks like you didn’t step out at all. Is this book that interesting?
He (laughed and then said): I am leaving for Lombok tomorrow morning for a one month diving trip. So wanted to take this weekend easy and gear myself for diving. After Lombok, I am coming back to Bali which is when I will explore Bali.
It all made sense to me now and got me even more excited about the lone traveler euphoria in my mind. So I said.
Me: Wow, a month long diving. Travelling alone must be so exciting right?
He: Having dinner alone everyday isn’t real fun. I lost my wife 3 months back so this is my first such trip to rediscover myself without her. But I love diving and the sea, so I am looking forward for it.
This shook all of me and everything around. I was speechless, didn’t know how to react. So after a long pause and a deep breath, I said ‘I am sorry’ but he diverted the subject to talk more about his diving plans. I was listening but didn’t really hear anything. My mind was now restless. I needed some resolutions. Am I taking for granted my non-lonesome travels? Do honestly all the people who travel alone, do it because they love being alone or because they don’t have someone to travel with? Shouldn’t I cherish holidays with my family and friends? Is it truly that exciting to be a lone traveler? I don’t have answers to all this but his one line ‘Having dinner every night alone isn’t really fun’ opened my eyes to an aspect of life that I was ignoring. And at the very next moment, the thought of his diving trip reflecting his undying spirit to rediscover himself also inspired me.
If my thoughts trigger a thought of your own, do leave a comment. I love reading your comments.