I tried to think of what picture to use for this post. And I couldn’t pick. I finally picked the pic of the old Tavera.
Day 2 of landing in India, back in December, I told Joby I was in India for 3 months. Joby said “Bavitha, I give you 3 weeks”. I ended up extending my trip to 4 months.
So going back to this pic. This is a pic I took last week of the old Tavera that I drive every time I visit Kannur. There is something about going from an EV (electric vehicle) to driving a 15 year old stick shift. You feel like you’re part of the machine. You coax and you nudge the beast so that it feels comfortable with the speed you’re going at.
That is how India felt to me. India felt raw and real. You have to reason with it, coax it, and over time you find its rhythm and you settle into the pace that’s comfortable for the both of you.
India taught me how to be vulnerable again. It taught me that it was ok to let my guard down. It taught me that I don’t have to have my shit together all the time. I’m thankful for Alex, one of my few good friends, for being my sounding board, even though at the beginning of the trip I told her not to check in on me everyday because “I needed some space”.
Even though being in new cities by myself is not new to me, being in a different city each week has tested me at various points. I’ve felt emotional highs and lows that I haven’t experienced in a really long while. Managing a full time job while doing this wasn’t something I talked much about on insta, but yes, I have a job. It’s been challenging balancing it, but so well worth it.
I’m thankful for all the people that came into my life these past few months. 4 months ago I didn’t really have good friends that still lived in India. Now I’m leaving with some lasting friendships, and even some rekindled friendships from my childhood.
And how can I forget to thank all my insta friends? The reason I was posting so many stories was because my entire trip was driven by my small, but lovely group of insta friends who helped orchestrate all my last minute flight bookings and expeditions. From giving me places to check out in each of the cities I was in, to even telling me what cities to go to next. You trolled me, humored me, laughed at my jokes that normally only I laugh at, and some of you ended up becoming really good friends ❤. Thank you.
No I’m not crying. These are not tears. I’m just cutting some onions over here.
Ok, Oscar speech over.
But wait. I forgot to thank my mom and dad. Yes. Thank u, Amma and Acha. Every time someone asked me “does your parents know you’re travelling alone?”, and trust me, I’ve been asked this way more times than I care to count, it made me realize that the life I’d been living since I was 18, where I was given the right to make decisions about my life, and make my own mistakes, is not the norm for majority of the women (and perhaps men too) in India.
The initial outrage that I’d felt when asked this question, has over time turned to understanding of where the question came from. Empathy. I have more of that now. It was hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that the way I carried myself perhaps wasn’t the norm, and that perhaps I didn’t match up to the expectations that society might have for someone that fits my apparent stereotype.
So thank you mom and dad for being progressive AF 20 years ago. You both are way ahead of your time.