#LoneGirlTravels: Travel Is My Therapy

I associate summer with travelling. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that every summer as a child, my parents would take my brother and I for a nice long holiday – and always to a different place. While other kids my age wanted to do the stuff that any child would like to do – going to amusement parks, eating ice cream, buying cute things, and such – I only longed to explore the place I was in. I remember wanting to get out of the mall on my first visit to England, and going back to stare at the Big Ben. Mostly because I had read about it. Malls were a rarity in India in those days and I was fascinated – but somehow the rarer things the city entailed, what made the city the actual place that it was, fascinated me much more.

This fascination towards different cities of the world continued and only grew further as I grew up. So much so that as a child I was determined that I would be a travel journalist when I was older. I don’t think I even knew the meaning of it back then – but it had the word travel, so I was sure I’d love it. It is now what one could propitiously call wanderlust. It is a passion, a greed almost. I long to see different places; and in my head I’m constantly planning the next place I’d like to tick off the extensively long list of places I want to see.

“What’s this obsession with travelling?” my mom often asks me. I never have a definite answer to give her. What I can say, though, is that each place I visit allows me to discover a little bit more about myself. I don’t just discover cute cafes or shops and explore different streets, I also discover a part of myself I didn’t know existed. Every place I visit leaves a little bit of itself with me. Through the people that I meet, through the food that I eat, through every book I read sitting at the airport waiting for my next flight, through every movie I watch on the plane – I grow and I learn.

Travel is my therapy. I wouldn’t say it’s an escape, because not that I’m a psych major, but if there’s anything I’ve learnt in my not so long life yet, it’s that there is no escaping your emotions. You’ve just got to deal with whatever it is you’re dealing with. Travelling, however, helps me wash away my stresses and pains more than any meds ever can. This I know.

The reason I’m giving everyone an insight into how travel makes me feel is because I intend on sharing my travel experiences with everyone this summer. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do every year since I was 14 – so albeit 11 years too late, I’m finally going to do it.

I intend on posting my experiences in different cities over the next month, here and on Instagram (simarrana is my handle if you’re interested), under the hashtag #LoneGirlTravels (to make search easier – and because, why not).

So here we go. I hope you enjoy my journey just as much as I hopefully will! 🙂

“You’re So Pretty” And 5 Other Things To Stop Taking SO Seriously

By the time you reach your 10th year on this planet, there is one thing you know for sure; the world is fascinated by things that look pretty. A couple more years and you begin to realise that the objectification of women as “pretty things” isn’t that rare. A few more years down the line and you’re accustomed to the vastly broad line dividing and deciding gender roles. Roles that tend to place women and men in two extreme ends of the same world. Now as a woman, some of these pre decided roles enrage me. I don’t just say this because women are still, in the 21st century, fighting for nothing more than equal rights. I also say this because the pressure these roles bring for men are pretty unfair. Whoever decided that the sole burden of running a house should fall upon a man? However, I digress.

The point I intend to come on and make by having this little debate with myself is that as women, there are certain things we just need to close our ears to and stop taking seriously. Gender division and inequality are not always blatant. Sometimes, they come wrapped in a beautifully shiny box. A box you need to break. 

So here are a few things I think us women need to stop taking so damn seriously!

1. “You’re so pretty”

I have to start with this one. Now I know that it’s a compliment; and us women are taught to take those graciously. You want to know the truth though? There’s more to you. I know women who take this as the ultimate compliment, and I’m not here to judge, but that makes me sad. When was the last time you heard “he’s so handsome” be the ultimate compliment for a man? You look for a man to be intelligent, to be successful, to be ambitious – but when it comes to yourself, why do you stop at the word pretty, good looking, hot? I’m sure it makes you happy; it made me feel good too. But then the realisation that that’s the only thing that mattered to anyone dawned on me. “She’s pretty” isn’t the only thing that should come to one’s mind when they think of you, should it?

So if you want to be something, be talented, be smart, be funny, be passionate, be kind, be ambitious. There are millions of things you can be other than pretty.

2. “There’s a right age to get married”

Some give the whole “biological clock is ticking” saga. Some say the older you get, the lesser the chance of you finding a suitable boy. Others just think older brides don’t make pretty brides. Then there are those who give no explanation at all, except that they think a girl just must be “settled” by a certain age; this certain age usually doesn’t go beyond your mid twenties. I’d like to issue a big fat apology to all of the above – because I vehemently disagree.

Sure, there’s a right time to get married; that time would be when you find the right person. It has nothing to do with age. I know people who fell in love and got married at 23 and I know people who got married at 40 because that’s when they found the right person. Getting married can’t just be a box you need to tick off in order to live the life everyone thinks you ought to live.

3. “Wow, you’ve lost so much weight”

If you’re someone who has genuinely had weight issues (and by that I mean if you’ve been unhealthily overweight) and you just lost it all in a healthy fashion, well done! If you’re on a crazy diet which makes you faint because you want to be “skinny”, think again. “You’ve lost weight” seems to be the only thing everyone is vying to hear. I see girls who are beautiful and in great shape trying all sorts of fad diets and driving themselves nuts only because they want to look like some model they saw on Instagram; or because their best friend just lost a tonne of weight. It’s great to want to be fit and healthy, but don’t make “body goals” your only goal.

4. “All guys are dicks”

Stop taking social media and every meme you read on the internet about “fuckboys” so seriously. If this isn’t gender stereotyping, I don’t know what is. It’s not a gender stereotype attacking women, but it is a generalisation based on gender nonetheless. Gender issues aren’t something you can do away with by attacking the opposite sex. Whatever happened to “Be the change you want to see”?

5. “You’re so much better than her”

Whether it’s your boyfriend’s ex, a co-worker, or even your frenemy (everyone has one of those) – the comparison just isn’t worth it. At the risk of sounding overtly preachy, everyone is where they need to be in life. Everyone has a different journey and a different path. You’re going to get your fair share if you work hard and concentrate on yourself. Comparison only causes insecurities. Perhaps it’s time we stopped worrying so much about who we can be better than and started focusing on what we can be better at.

6. “He/she is not good enough for you”

Because he’s not rich enough, or tall enough, or smart enough. Because he doesn’t live in a palatial house and could always drive a better car. Because your family backgrounds are so different. Because, hello, you’re better looking.

Screw that. This is when you shut your ears and walk away.

Stop listening to people who aren’t you when it comes to picking the person you might end up spending the rest of your life with. They will never know the person like you do. It’s easy to judge a person for what you see on the outside; but what’s on the outside is ever changing. It’s what’s on the inside that’s going to last forever. So fall for someone you can be yourself with. Someone who betters you and encourages you to chase your dreams. Someone with a good heart. That house, car and those ultimate good looks aren’t going to give you half the happiness.