When I did the story on “Miss walking shoes“, a lot of people were amazed and even skeptical about the same feat being an impossible task within India. Well for all those who had their doubts, this one will be an eye opener.
You have to give it up for Swati Jain, the solo backpacker who has traveled across 20 states and 2 union territories of India- alone. Its hard not to compare her with Leena Bansal, but then every woman deserves her own space, so we won’t compare, rather, we will applaud her feat and cheer her on to continue her wanderlust as she discovers each nook and cranny of Incredible India.
She is not exploring the common tourist places such as Leh and Kerela, but also experiencing the common life of some common, and some rather uncommon people in Zanskar Valley or UP and Bihar.
Another corporate rat who was sick of the monotony of her job and had her heart in her feet, Swati quit her job in 2013 to begin her Solo saga of knowing India better. She didn’t have a game plan , there were no calculated savings,the family wasn’t too keen and were orthodox, but she made it in spite of the odds. With just the zeal and the determination to make it possible, to discover herself and push her limits. ‘It’s only when you move out of your comfort zone, are you able to know exactly what are you made of.’ Her idea was to discover herself as she discovered her country.
Meeting new people, managing budgets, understanding hospitality and sharing stories with people she met during her sojourns has left her awed and squealing in delight like a child. You can see the excitement and the joy in her eyes as she shares tales of making new friends, making it through harsh conditions and coming out successful. The girl seems o be having the time of her life as she ravages down borders in her travel hungry soul. There are hardships, security issues, accidents and all the hassles, but it has only made her more thankful for all that she has, all that she is managing to do.
She manages to fund it all herself, her savings don’t suffice but she is a Freelance PR consultant and a travel writer. It is enough to give her wings and liberate her soul.
A lot of us want to give it all up and opt for a nomadic lifestyle. Get away from the hassles of living this super fast paced life where life is a race. Where you are not bound by iternaries or the compulsion to make adjustments with fellow travelers, all of which makes the Solo tag all the more appealing. You don’t have to listen to anyone but your instinct and heart. You have to be practical of course, but the pressure of someone else opinion is not going to crush your intent for sure.
And traveling does give the biggest lessons in life. Like Swati has realized- Meeting Jawans on the border who bear such unthinkable hardships just to protect their countries, or the discipline and strength of Kung Fu nuns whose silent demeanor would give nothing away of the relentless power that they nestle so calmly inside.
In her words- ” Travel has made me realize that life is not about living in luxury. Life is only about being happy. My nomadic life has given me terrific moments to keep for my entire life, which has built me into a strong yet compassionate person by heart. Today, I am grateful for even the smallest thing I have in my life. Travel has helped me to open up my mind and accepts things the way they are. When you see people living in extreme conditions and still courageous enough to survive, you tend to stop making excuses for your own life. …”