(Our guest writer Arushi Dutt is a vlogger. She covers the city of Mumbai on her YouTube channel Everything Bombay and is a consultant itinerary expert for travel app GoPo. Whether Arushi is eating, interviewing or shooting, her mile-wide smile is always intact. Back from Meghalaya, she writes about going it alone for the first time)
You never know until you try…
A broken heart can have you discover a whole new side to yourself. It was early on after my first heartbreak that I realized that I am an adrenaline junkie (a shout-out to that guy for the alone time). I was always someone who enjoyed taking risks, but in work, never in my personal life or for leisure. You’re never going to know if something’s for you unless and until you try. It was with this thought that I attempted my very first solo trip in India.
Having moved around my whole life, I discovered very early that I was built for travel. It took a couple of rocky experiences to really spark the flame. I had my first fling with travel when I took a family road trip across the United States, covering all the major cities. However up until the age of 25, I’d always tagged along with my family. I never had the guts to travel anywhere alone, or at least I thought I didn’t… not until we moved back to India.
Terrified NRI to Bombay Gal
My family moved back to India from the US five years ago. At that time, I was the terrified NRI who couldn’t even cross the streets without holding onto a friend. When I moved to Mumbai to pursue media, I was more petrified than ever. The never-ending hustle and bustle of the city was intimidating. The risk taker that I am, I took on the challenge to make the city my own. Having an itch to always be on the go, I grabbed my camera, convinced a few strangers (who I befriended eventually) to work for me, and began a YouTube channel (Everything Bombay), my excuse to explore the city.
[Editor’s note: Arushi has an interesting mix of vlogs and videos, talking to the “foreigners of Mumbai”, exploring street food corners at midnight, and the Kala Ghoda arts and culture festival for a day.]
[Street food in the burbs (Vile Parle)]
[Kala Ghoda Festival 2016]
The daze and confusion that came with being in a new place and getting lost gave me an absurd rush. But the feeling of overcoming the confusion and mapping out a plan for myself was the most satisfying ever.
Ticking towards a trip alone
Fast-forward to the present year when I am not exactly where I want to be in life. I announce to my parents that I need to take a solo trip. The idea of their only daughter, still maneuvering this country, roaming alone, with no support or companion to hold her hand, freaks them out (as expected). But I have amazing parents, who always have and continue to support my dreams and desires. They eventually agree.
I research my first destination endlessly, network like crazy on social media, book a guesthouse and conveyance all within a span of a week. Since I was headed to my dad’s hometown Shillong, I got lucky with insight from my dad, making things a lot easier.
All by myself
After reaching Guwahati airport and surviving a rather nauseous three-hour car ride to Shillong, it sinks in that I’m completely on my own. Despite the friendly staff at the guesthouse, the unfamiliarity of it all freaks me out. I get no sleep on my first night. Instead, I call up my mom, crying, that I probably can’t pull through this alone. After calming myself down, I realize I have two options. I can either choose to have a breakdown and ruin this experience I want for myself, or embrace it, and finally rid myself of my insecurities and fears. I’m glad I chose the latter.
Through the next five days of roaming Meghalaya, I had the time of my life (not to mention an insane workout) exploring the hills of Shillong, Cherapunjee, Dawki, and Mawlynnong.
I got lost and figured my way out. I befriended a few locals who guided me. I dove into the different but rather interesting local cuisine. I made some amazing friends. And best of all, I came out of it all feeling like I was a new woman.
It’s with renewed confidence and belief (which I had lost over time) that I am approaching life now. This is something those of us in our mid-20s could most definitely meddle with.
I’m never going to hold myself back at anything. Often times, with societal norms, peer pressure, and conventions, we feel the need to conform and/or wear masks to fit in. But are we really listening to our heart’s desires to be ourselves?
[Check out my solo trip to Meghalaya in a glimpse below:
by Arushi Dutt
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