Hitchhiking Experience Turned Into A Great Realization
It's been two years since I fell in love with solo traveling - exploring at my own pace, crossing hurdles independently, learning more about myself and the world around me. I also realized that traveling alone is not everything nice and fancy. It is not always a bed of roses, and most of the time, we have to depend on our gut feeling to access any situation. The roads and turns that we take, the places we stay at, the people we interact with, and the friends we make need skepticism and constant judgment.
I am from India, and in a country like mine, we worry about our security every moment. And when it comes to traveling alone on unknown roads and talking to complete strangers as a single woman, we have to be extra cautious of our well-being.
"Just take care when you are traveling, you are a girl!"
"Reach back home before it's dark, you are a girl!"
"Avoid going to isolated streets, you are a girl!"
"Don't trust anyone, you are a girl!"
We often hear these words from our elders and well-wishers. And as much as I agree that we have to be extra careful of the new people and the unfamiliar surroundings when we are traveling alone, I also know that there is another side to it - the beautiful one, where we are not hesitant to explore a new place, and not scared to trust a stranger. Traveling to unknown places, talking to complete strangers, exchanging stories with people who I might never meet again, has helped me to trust people and places.
In July 2019, I traveled solo in South India, covering 3 states and 11 cities. In most of these cities, I rented a two-wheeler that helped me explore the place more conveniently. Munnar was the 6th stop of my trip, and unfortunately, the city's bike rentals were closed down for the season. To add to it, the city's public transport for touring certain points was not very reliable. So, I decided to take local help and try hitchhiking instead.
On my first day in Munnar, I hitchhiked from Madupetty Dam to Echo Point - and that is when I met Bibin Augustine. Bibin was driving to his work, when I waved at him, indicating him to stop. It was new for him, a girl stopping him in the middle of the road, and asking him for a ride. However, he agreed to drop me at Echo Point, and while we were on the way, I told him that I do travel documentation, and I was currently touring South India.
Understanding that I am a travel content creator, he offered to show me other places that I had planned for the day, and even more -the ones that he thought would be great for my blog. Hesitantly I agreed to his kind offer - I trusted him and his genuineness, and he did not break my trust either. He even went one step ahead - it got dark by the time we were back from our last stop, but he volunteered to drop me back safely at my hotel.
He again offered to show me some beautiful, scenic parts of Idukki on my last day in Munnar. I was a little reluctant at first, ...
...but how could I not trust someone who called me "Chechi (Elder Sister)" when we first met!