The Chronicles of Solo Travel in Chennai has been edited by Aashna Kanuga
“I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro
When you travel, you always end up experiencing something new. It is a feeling in itself to know about the culture, meet some amazing humans and find your own way. However, what seems fascinating to me is the idea of solo travel. Of packing a bag and going to a place where no one knows you. The idea of knowing yourself better and discovering unknown paths and mysteries of those places all by yourself. For me, solo travel always meant overcoming my fear of taking responsibilities. I realised much later, however, that it was much more than that.
My paper was selected in an international conference in Chennai, and my wish was finally coming true. There was only one plan in my mind—to not plan. I meant to explore myself and the world around me by experiencing fear, adventure and satisfaction. That is what solo travel is all about, is it not?
When I landed in Chennai, the only thing I knew was the address of my college. Fear and excitement were coursing through my veins. My first challenge was overcoming the language barrier. How do I book an Uber if no one understands where I want to go? Trying to remember the names of the localities, trying to pronounce them, finding a place to stay, and finding food. Chennai welcomed me with a bag full of hurdles. But suddenly, for the first time, I felt like I could do it. This is what solo travel does to you. It makes you feel confident right when you are about to lose it.
As I walked through the streets, I saw dosa shops at every corner. On one side, I saw a man selling gajras. The other side was full of street vendors selling lungis. Large flyovers and even larger buildings towered over the crowd in this metro city. I was loving the diversity I experienced.
That evening, I planned to go for a walk around my neighbourhood. While walking through the streets of Kodambakkam, I came across a small church. There was a huge door at the entrance, carved with the holy cross. I went inside. I don’t normally pray, but today, I sat on a bench, joined my hands and prayed. Soon, I realised I was crying.
My senses were overwhelmed. I felt like my soul was trying to cleanse itself. I cried like a baby for 20 minutes. There was no one to witness it. Even if there was, I couldn’t care less. No one in this city knew me.
Solo travel helped me make peace with my soul.
What happened after that was even more surprising. As I walked back home, I plugged in my earphones. Listening to my favourite Indian Ocean songs, I realised I was dancing. Right in the middle of the sidewalk. I have never done that. But I have never smiled this earnestly either. I was happy in that moment, lost in my solitude and lost to the world. What more could anyone want?
Solo travel is a journey of discovery.
The next few days passed by quickly. I was busy with my presentation and was meeting a lot of new people. With a jolt, I realised that I was having so much fun that I no longer felt like going back home as quickly as I could. I made plans to visit City’s best place in a day and use only public transport. That is how you can truly discover a city right?
Sitting in bus number 12C, I realised how beautiful the city is. Standing right next to back door, I saw school children climbing on the bus, fighting for window seats. There was a group of people dressed in formals, sitting right next to the labourers. It was odd how they both had the same look of helpless frustration and exhaustion in their eyes.
I got down at Santhome Church. I spent my day travelling to places like the Light house, Marina beach and of course, the Santhome Church. Walking down Marine Beach is an experience within itself. As I stood on the beach, with gentle waves lapping at my feet, I felt more peaceful and at one with myself that I had ever felt before in my life.
I spent the night in the bar named bikers and barrels, a very good place for—very obviously, I might add—people who loved bikes and beer. I ended up dancing all night with a friend of mine. An unusual night, to say the least. I never dance.
While going back home, I looked back at the city, closed my eyes and said thank you. I don’t know if I will ever meet those crazy friends I made. I don’t know half their names or numbers. But it is the memories of those 3 days I will carry with me for the rest of my life that matter.
Solo Travel is a feeling in itself. It is the feeling of peace—the kind of peace that settles the chaos inside you. It teaches you to be yourself, to take the first step towards the things you wish to do. Solo Travel gives you the courage to take the paths less travelled. It gives you the courage to face the world and look at it with a very different perception — your perception. This trip made me feel like my life was returned to me. I was born again.
Have you travelled alone? If yes, feel free to share your experience and if not, it is never too late to plan a trip.
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