Category Archives: Solo

Meet the girl who sold her house and is exploring her spiritual self in India

As a solo traveller, who sets off with no fixed plan, I am  often asked this question:  How do I manage to travel all by myself and end up having a good time?

You know, when you are travelling alone, you are never really alone. You constantly meet new people and when you are all by yourself,  curiosity leads to talking to people.

I have always met good people on the road and the experiences have made me what I am and hence, I cherish solo travel.

This post is about meeting one such lady, with whom I could connect, have a meaningful conversation and talk about the purpose of life.


I met Hajnalka Zsuzsanna Rácz,  who lived in a  town near Budapest.  I met her while I was volunteering in an ashram in south India.

32-year-old Hajnalka Zsuzsanna Rácz from a town near Budapest

Her story 

32-year-old Hajnalka, worked in a Tele- communication company for eight years. However, she could not see herself selling things for her entire life. She felt the company she was working for cared more about the numbers than the people.

She quit her job, worked in a restaurant for five months so that she could travel for the rest of the seven months.  Hajnalka also sold her house as she did not want to keep paying the EMI and be dependent.

“Things like a house don’t interest me. It is the new experiences in life that I am looking for. In volunteering, I find selfless love. No salary can give me that.”  With the money that she had earned while working in a restaurant, she came to India.

I was intrigued to know why she wanted to travel to India. “India was my calling. I reached the airport and the wind blew at me. The smell of the earth, the wind seemed like it was welcoming me here,” she said.

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Hajnalka, is in India and on her spiritual journey and is living  in a  living in an ashram in south India. She is  volunteering in a canteen where she is sometimes serving people and at times baking cakes amongst other things.

I began talking about life and happiness.   I see a lot of young people unhappy with the jobs.  I always wondered if  money was that important? How is it in your country?

She said, “It is the same in my country too. One is supposed to work, earn, marry and then have babies. Though I love babies. And would like to have Indian babies! However, I see many people are not happy in their lives.  Maybe because they are always looking for materialistic happiness in their life.

We both agreed that materialistic happiness is short-lived and people need to find meaning in their lives. Once that is sorted, perhaps happiness makes the life going.

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The art of draping the saree

Hajnalka can drape a saree better than I can.  In one of the felicitation functions at the ashram, we wanted to wear a saree. However, when I told her I did not know how to drape one, she said “Come to my place. I know it. I can help you with it!

It was funny that as an Indian I did not know the art that well.   I asked her how she learnt to wear the art of draping a saree and she said, “I feel so connected with this country as if I belong here. It was easy for me to pick it up.”


This conversation and meeting Hajnalka remains one of the most insightful time. I interacted with her for a couple of hours, however, I can feel some connection with her.

Sometimes, all you need is a good conversation.

Dear fellow traveller, I would love to hear the stories of people you met on the road.

 

 

 

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Why you should experience stillness while you travel

Around this time last year, I was chilling in Goa. Every time the hobo thinks about the trip, she gets nostalgic!

Goa, like I always say is a state of mind. There are times when I am working from my laptop but my mind is in Goa. The slow and  laid back life is what I yearn for.

See the waves pass by, listen to the tranquility of the water, let the breeze hit you. More so, travel solo and be by yourself at the beach.

Being at the beach has been rewarding and enriching for me.  I have gained inspiration from the waves, have learnt to never give up and to go with flow.


In another experiential travel trip, I disconnected from the world and lived without technology for five days without a phone, laptop, internet or a camera. This was my own black-hole resort.  This time, I was one with myself.  Living without technology was  like vipassana  for the mind.
You know that feeling when you want to seek solace,  just be at a place and not do anything at all?! So YOU do know what I am talking about.


Me and the world out there
Me and the world out there

I have never spoken about the top 10 things to do in a place or do not believe in making a list of places I want to see on this blog. Know why?

It is simply because no travel or destination can quantify the experiences that you embark on the go. Personally, those kind of pointers are great from a research point of view. You will surely know what to expect from a destination.

However, every once in a while, leave that list behind and experience stillness.  Travel without a plan and I can vouch that you will be surprised by what you encounter, experience and embark.


You DO NOT have to travel for a fortnight or  months to experience that stillness. Sometimes, the two days are enough.

HOW to experience stillness? Or HOW to go without a plan? I would only say- Trust yourself , your journey and listen to the voice inside you!

YOU dear fellow traveler, will get the answer.

Love,

Nostalgic Hobo

 

 

 

 

Meeting Paris in a small town of India

When iVolunteered

I lived technology free for five days. By living technology free I mean I traveled solo without using a phone, camera and internet! I do not want to tell which place I go to when I need to be with myself. However, I am always here to share my experiences and more so how I felt. In these five days, about 9 hours- spread over two days, I spent volunteering. Getting up at 4.30 in the morning, I was present at the western canteen where I assisted in making sandwiches for 1000 delegates who were a part of an international conference. (Western canteen- the place I remotely talk about serves food which foreigners are used to eating.  It is not spicy, bland unlike the food we are used to eating in India. Volunteers from all across the world come here to help in cutting fruits vegetables, making meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There are cookies, salads, desserts, exotic vegetables, pizzas and pastas among many other dishes that are available here at a subsidised rate- with just bearing the minimum cost of food. For example a cookie in Starbucks that would cost me 150 bucks or more, is served here for Rs 12.) Continue reading Meeting Paris in a small town of India

How traveling solo for five days without using technology shaped my perspectives.

Use and abuse of technology


As much as I use technology, I despise it too. It was just two and a half years ago, I got myself a smartphone  and came on  whatsapp. (Well, some of my friends were so fed up with me and one of them even wanted to gift me a smart-phone because he probably knew I would not buy one myself)

But those were the days of the past. I have been using and abusing different means of technology. Now, I can say that I am a whatsapp and Facebook addict. I need my phone with me and I may suffer from nomophobia- the fear of loosing or not having my phone with me.

Smartphones

@mariascrivan

Good old days without a mobile


But hey! Once upon a time, I did not have a phone. I was able to manage things well. People were able to communicate with me.  I had real friends and meaningful conversations with them than the virtual world. I was happier than as well. And thus, as a personal experimentation, I wanted to disconnect myself with a mobile phone, laptop and a camera and re connect with self. Continue reading How traveling solo for five days without using technology shaped my perspectives.

The irony of quitting my job for a travel fellowship, but not allowed to travel!

I quit my job for a fellowship that would have allowed me to travel. Ironically, now I cannot travel. Well not by choice, but by accident. Pun intended. You will know the pun shortly.

Life is funny. Meh.


Humor is the only way to deal with it.  Bah.


The random ramblings.

I never plan things in my life. Good things(or bad) happen to me by accident.  I quit my  job on July 30,  this year for a super cool fellowship that allowed me to travel to  interiors of the country. It was a six- month travel fellowship where I would  constantly be on the go! What else would one want?

I left Mumbai to relocate to Delhi where “office” was located.  Delhi would have been my base for a week, while the rest of the time, I would have been on the go.

I experienced  a week of living in a backpackers hostel- The hosteller where I made friends with people from different countries such as Germany, Iran, Egypt. I was exploring Hauz Khas Village, where I had a Bhutanese meal at this super awesome place Yeti and I happened to eavesdrop into a conversation of a girl and a guy on their first date. It is fun when you are sitting at a table alone and you can sneak-peek into other people’s conversations! I explored Kunzum travel cafe at Hauz Khas Village a place to just be, meet fellow travelers and pay whatever you like for the coffee or tea.

I had just began to explore Delhi solo, and I meet with an accident while I was walking on the road, at Haus Khas village, a car tyre ran over my foot and I fractured it. Luckily, I was with people from The Hosteller who took me to a hospital for first aid. The guy who ran over his car on me, ran away! And now, I am back to Mumbai and cannot travel.

I am restless. Once you get the itchy feet syndrome, you cannot help it. I cannot wait to pack my bag and just leave!

Because the antidote to travel is travel.

The backstory I absolutely love

Story behind the story


How it all started

I am sitting at the windowpane of my balcony. With a steaming hot cuppa filter cappi, music tripping and the pattering of rain. I am reminiscing about the good times I have had while traveling.

I discovered my independent streak, the go with the flow kinds, coming out of my comfort zone, trusting strangers, talking to people around, doing absolutely nothing, gazing at the stars, seeing the waves pass, seeing the sunset at a rock, from making elaborate travel plans to turning up unplanned at a destination, to traveling minimalist, I have a set of good tags, I can associate myself with.

 There is a long way to go
There is a long way to go

Hello friend, hello Pondicherry!

Four years ago, in the month of September, a friend was set to get married. She was my first friend who was to tie the knot and I, for one did not want to miss it. However, work did not allow me to take many leaves at that time. I was into my first job and was a classic minion. She lured me with the idea that I could visit Pondicherry, which was closer from Chennai, where the wedding was to take place. Three days at the wedding and maybe a weekend to Pondicherry? I booked my tickets to Chennai for a week and decided, I would go with the flow.

My first flight with my own money.Getting the window seat was my only aim back then!
My first flight with my own money.Getting the window seat was my only aim back then!

I wanted to break away from the monotony. Back then, I did not know what travel would do to me. The plan of traveling with my friends never worked  with one or the other excuse always handy. Eventually, everyone got consumed with work. Fed up of putting travel to a backseat, I decided to take the plunge.
The wedding was a sweet affair and it was the first south Indian wedding I attended closely. Post the wedding, my friend asked me- So what is your plan now? I surely did not have ! A few relatives asked me, so which hotel would you be staying at? I hope you have made reservations. One of them said, “Madam- It is a weekend. All resorts will be booked. Are you sure you want to take a risk?”  I just smiled.

(You can read about it here -https://nostalgichobo.wordpress.com/2015/09/21/pondicherry/)

Present time

Cut to the present time. All the jobs that I chose, were never the typical desk jobs. From being on the field, to traveling to remote areas, most of them were somewhere associated with travel.

View from the Panhala Fort, Kolhapur : During one of my work trips
View from the Panhala Fort, Kolhapur : During one of my work trip

I recently quit my job to take up a fellowship and sort of relocate to Delhi. The fellowship would have allowed me to travel to remote areas and take technology to grassroots. However, within a week of my fellowship when I was still in the orientation stage, I met with an accident in Delhi and fractured my foot. And bam! I came back to Mumbai to let my foot recover. And this is how Nostalgic Hobo evolved.

I would say, it took a fractured foot to get started to write about my travel experiences!

Travel is my teacher

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!

Put down the map and get wonderfully lost

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.

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!

Traveling solo

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.

Paradise beach Pondicherry

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.

There is no wi-fi in the forest, but a better connection

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!

Travel is more than seeing of sights

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.

...That is where the real adventure begins

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.