Express News Service
Nidhi Sosa Kurien, a creative content head at a movie production house in Panampilly Nagar and mother of two, believes that responsibilities at home or workplace shouldn’t stop anyone from chasing happiness. We caught up with her about her recent solo drive around the country.
How was your shift from a tourist to a traveller?
I started backpacking in 2015 and have travelled to almost all the states in India. I believe that a tourist goes sightseeing, while a traveller studies the place in detail and feels its soul. Sometimes, when we travel in a group, we may have to keep aside our interests for others. This is what prompted me to do a solo trip.
What are the risk elements when a woman is travelling alone?
When you travel alone, you should be ready to face the risks too. Many of my friends used to tell me, “we will pack our bags after you return safely”. So, I had a responsibility to come back safe so more women can travel alone. I start my journey every day at around 4.30am and wind up by 6pm. The highways are safe even during the night.
What vehicle did you use?
Renault Kwid automatic. I used to go on weekend trips and short distance journeys before the all-India trip. Social distancing and other security factors made me stick to the car and avoid public transport. Mileage was less, but it was very comfortable.
What was the real motivation behind the Great Indian Solo trip?
I was supposed to start this journey in the first week of April 2020. But the lockdown hit a month before that. I quit my job in 2019 to start this journey, but that did not happen. So I rejoined work and had to postpone this journey several times before ultimately starting it on February 7.
How did you prepare for the trip?
During last year’s lockdown, I had planned the routes and collected contacts. I also studied the history and myths behind many places I planned to visit. After the first lockdown, when tourism was in a stage of revival, traveller-couple Vijayan and Mohana flagged off my journey.
Did you face language barriers?
I know Tamil and Hindi apart from English and Malayalam. People in Odisha understand only Odia. So, mostly I communicated with them through gestures. I think people can understand if we say “I am hungry” no matter what dialect you say it in.
Most memorable part of the trip?
See, even if you have visited a place with friends or family, going there alone is different. There is nobody to wait for you, no one telling you what to do. We are as good as lost there. Before this solo trip, I had seen Kolkata as only the land of Tagore. When I travelled alone through its streets, it felt different.
How was your family’s response?
Though Kerala’s literacy rate is high, families are very conservative about women travelling alone. But my family was very supportive. My husband Jinu Joy and sons, 10-year-old Nathaniel and eight-year-old Jehuvel took care of the house well. My in-laws were also very supportive.
What would be a word of advice you want to give other travellers?
If you wait for all the other things to settle down before beginning a journey, you will never travel. I have a word for the mothers – you should take responsibility for your children, but beyond that, do not lose yourselves. Travelling is a way of finding happiness.