“You went alone?!”

This short, three-word question combined with a mixed look of shock, admiration, fear and amusement is what greets me whenever my colleagues back home ask whether I’ve ever been to India.

I work at an upmarket Indian restaurant specialising in South Indian cuisine, where 90% of the staff originate from India. The majority are from Kerala, the southernmost state which seems to be full of luscious greenery, houseboats and a whole lot of seafood. The rest come from all over – Rajasthan, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh to name a few. Yet despite their differing hometowns, they always have the exact same reaction when I tell them that back in 2011 I, as a blonde nineteen-year old teenager, travelled overland from Nepal to India and spent just over two weeks in their home country completely alone.

They ask whether I was harassed. Yes, I was.

They ask if I got a lot of funny looks. Yes, I did.

They ask if anybody tried anything inappropriate. Yes, they did.

They ask was I scared. Yes, I was at times.

They ask would I do it again.

Absolutely yes.

India – like all countries on this wonderful planet – is like a bag of Revels. It has as many breath-taking sights otherwise known as the caramel Revels, as heartbreaking ones aka the coffee Revels. It has great people, just as it has some horrible people. It has its shady areas, but equally it has its incredibly warm and welcoming areas.

If one of my female friends asked me today whether I would recommend travelling alone to India, I’d probably tell them that they may feel safer and more comfortable with a male companion, but I wouldn’t warn them against it. I’d suggest they be extra cautious, cover up a little more than they normally would despite the crazy heat and humidity, and take care to respect local culture, but I would 100% tell them to go ahead and have a whale of a time!

READ MORE
Impressions of Rio de Janeiro

The media tends to give India a bit of a hard-time and to be completely honest, at times it’s well-deserved. But at the end of the day, I had some bad experiences in India, and I also had some bad experiences at home in Wales.

It’s all about perspective.

India is a hard nut to crack, but when the shell is well and truly broken, there’s something in the centre that just draws you in. It’s also like a nut in that some people are allergic to it. But I guess that’s probably the dust. Or the cardamom.

taj

Author

Hi, I'm Rhiannon and my name is Welsh, not Irish as many have been known to believe. You'll more often than not find me on some mode of public transportation, earphones in, book about serial killers in one hand and can of full-fat coke in the other. I have the heart and soul of a traveller but the bank account of Oliver Twist, which causes me deep pain if I'm completely honest.

9 Comments

  1. Great post! I totally agree that terrible things can happen at home too. My sister is a great believer that home is a safe haven & everywhere else is too dangerous to travel in. She sends me articles of crimes happening in whichever country I’m in & I send her links to articles at home. Sisterly love ?

    • Hahahaha! She sounds like one of my friends for this trip. A few days before I flew to Brazil they sent me a link to a story about a bridge that collapsed with a whole load of cyclists on it, and proceeded to tell me that I am forbidden to use bike in Brazil because it’s not safe. Because bridge collapses and road accidents NEVER happen in 1st World countries, of course…

  2. Nice post . Thanks! Being an native Indian and been travel to some countries by now… I can really relate your article. 🙂

  3. Oh how true. Travel is all about perspective no matter what country you go to. I’ve always wanted to go to India just never had the time. One day I’ll get there.

Write A Comment