A former colleague recently asked me. Have you been to Pondicherry? Can you suggest me some things to do in the French colony and good restaurants to visit? Where were you put up in the city?
I, for one love creating itineraries. I like to dream and imagine myself in a city, far away from the crowd. There is some kind of satisfaction I get when I am researching about a place. But yet, I always go unplanned.
But then with her question, I went blank! For those of you, who read about my eventful and adventurous first solo trip to Pondicherry would know what I mean.
(You can read the story – here )
I did tell her to check Paradise beach and the café which is open 24/7 at Rocky beach. But apart from that, I had not seen anything in the city! I. Hell, I did not know one good restaurant to eat food. And yet, I had an awesome time.
And how did this happen? Without covering any major destination in the city, how did I have a good time?
I thought it would be a good exercise to list down some points, tips and lessons I learnt from my trip.
What my first solo trip taught me: Lessons for life
1.It is fun to end up at a place without any reservation: They say, magic happens outside your comfort zone. We always plan for a trip. But travel is one thing when unplanned, can make you experience the unexpected. I landed up in a city I barely knew without a reservation. I sailed through and how! If I can, so can you!
2. Stay with local people or at a home-stay: They will have lots of stories to tell you about the city which no hotel would give. No hotel will give you the feel of a place better than locals who belong to the place. They will be passionate about their city, will be homely and even if hosting you is their primary source of income, they won’t be money minded and would always be honest. The experience stayed with me and nothing else matters.
3. When you travel solo, the people you meet on the go, become your pals: People who travel solo are never alone. They make memories with people they meet on the go. The local auto-wala, the owner of the hotel, meeting up with fellow-travelers became part of the plan. I would always remember Senthil and the owner of Satya Residency!
4. Paradise beach- Visit it for the serenity: Well, if you are looking for recommendations of places to visit in Pondicherry, this may not be the best place! There are loads of articles already filled with itineraries. But since I did visit the city, I would like to suggest Paradise beach. I can guarantee you that this place will be pure bliss.
5. Be-friend people who are hosting you: Your sixth sense would always tell you, if you can trust someone. And that is how, I got dropped off by a stranger with a help of another stranger who arranged a vehicle for me at the last-minute!
6. Leave your internet behind: We live in an age where we constantly think of the selfie we are going to make our Whatsaap DP, the Facebook check-in, or our Instagram page. It may not be such a bad idea to leave your internet behind. Just go with the flow. Instead, take a notebook, write your thoughts and go old school. Be real. Leave your virtual self behind. Well, it took me four years to write about my first solo trip and use technology as a medium.
7. Sometimes, it is all right to miss the biggest tourist destinations: I did not go to the Auro Ashram at all. Was I disappointed? Nope!
8. Le Cafe -The coffee shop at Rocky beach. Damn! Why don’t they have places like this in Mumbai which are open 24/7.
9.Disasters will happen. Don’t let them bother you: What people often don’t tell you is the story behind the story. What you may see on a blog, or website would be a person having a time of their life. What they do not tell is about the disaster that happened during the trip. Well for me, I was taken to a shady hotel by an auto-wala, I had no vehicle that would drop me off at Pondicherry bus depot. But still, I managed to have a good time and hell, I am writing about the same today.
Dear fellow traveler, this what travel taught me and this will stay with me for a lifetime. What are the lessons you learnt while traveling? This hobo would love to hear from you.
Disclaimer: All images have been taken from Pinterest, apart from image in point number 4.