I have always wondered how it would be to travel on my own. I decided to take my first solo trip after I was engaged in an attempt to get away from all the wedding planning chaos that was about to start! Many friends and family thought I was having second thoughts about getting married. Let me make it amply clear, I WAS NOT!!!
My first and only (till now at least) solo trip has been to Goa, in 2014. Goa had been a ‘compromise’ destination as I wanted to go to Hrishikesh and my fiancé (now husband) wanted me to go to some place where I would have network. The idea that I would not have network in Hrishikesh came about after ‘intense research’ or so I am told at least! Now, going on a solo trip was far more important to me than my destination. So I let him pick the destination, choose the hotel and book my flights. I even had best friends there, you know, just in case?!
So anyway, Goa was my first solo trip. It was in August, which is the monsoon season in India and lucky for me, it was beautifully rainy during the time I was there. It was amazing to say the least! I had half expected myself checking in and getting overwhelmed by being alone and the loneliness that would follow. Turns out, I quite enjoy being alone and lonely! I was completely thrilled about being on my own, doing my thing and not having to explain why I was doing it!
I promptly decided to try a few things I would normally not do or even suggest. One of them was renting a bicycle for the day. During my check – in at the hotel, I had walked through the restaurant and seen the beautiful view. There was a church, hidden in the woods, which seemed to be calling out to me. So I asked the receptionist if they do cycle rentals. Being the quick, efficient hospitality guy that he was, he said, “Give me 2minutes Ma’am”. I checked in, had my shower and settled into the pretty, cozy room (which I loved, thank you very much husband!).
Within some time, the receptionist had called me and told me that he had arranged for a cycle. I was thrilled! So far this was turning out to be the best holiday EVER!!
I immediately came down, got the bicycle and asked for directions to the church. It was a good 2.5kms away from my hotel. Being the ex – badminton state level player that I was, I imagined this was going to be no big feat. I started pedalling my way towards the church. Approximately 500mtrs into the ride, I was breathless! But I rode on. I was not giving up on this church mission! After all, it had called out to me right? Huffing and puffing, after asking a few people for further directions I managed to reach there.
And what do I see there? The church had a big fat lock at the gate! It was closed!!! Now clearly, God had not informed me of the timings when he had called me!! I was pretty devastated. I mean, the one time I follow a religious sentiment! A few people, who clearly were wondering where this girl on a cycle was going, told me that the church was closed today and would open up tomorrow. (Now the next days of my holiday had already been planned and I was quite dejected). So God would have to call me some other time.
It slowly dawned on me that there was this mammoth task for cycling back to my hotel. The journey to the church had already taken 80% of my strength, energy, inclination and basically my life. But I had to get back and I was starting to feel hungry! I started my slow (very very slow) journey back to the hotel.
As you must have heard, God works in mysterious ways. By the time I reached the main highway to get to my hotel, my cycle’s chain had had enough of my strenuous cycling and it gave way. It broke in two nice little pieces! So there I was, on the middle of this highway, in Goa, where I could barely see any cars passing, with a broken cycle. Thankfully, before the panic set in, my brain did its job and I called the hotel reception.
The poor guy who had given me the cycle wouldn’t and couldn’t stop apologising! I really felt bad for the guy so I chose not to flip out and go all mental on him! He told me he would be there in 5mins and to stay right there! So as the good girl that I am, I waited patiently by the side of the road, ignoring the side glances of the few people that were around me.
When he said, “I’ll be there in 5mins”, I had expected him to come in a car. It was just a given. How else would he come pick me up right? Another mode of transportation had not even distantly occurred to me. Therefore, when I saw this mini tempo slowing down and taking a u – turn seemingly for me, I was filled with fear, panic and determination. Yes, my mind went there! Then I saw the hotel boy and I relaxed, because someone who apologised so profusely could surely not do the ghastly things I was thinking about!
The boy and his colleague hiked up the bike in the tempo, asked me to get in the front seat (I relaxed completely), and we drove back to the hotel, completely safe and sound! Turns out, the hotel did not have a cycle or even a car rental business. He had managed to borrow his friend’s cycle, just so I could ride around the area! Now that was awfully nice of him, wasn’t it? At least I thought so.
I may not have gotten into that church with all its peace and serenity, but I sure did get a story with an adventure I had been looking for!