Solo travel in India
I spent two months traveling alone in India. This fact is not groundbreaking. No one is writing a book about me. I am not the first to have done this, and nor will I be the last.
But lately, I have been thinking of it a lot due to all the news coming out of India of sexual harassment (here is a good synopsis of some of the reports). But, like a lot of women, my experience in India was overwhelmingly positive.
I traveled by train and bus. I was scammed at times, stared at constantly, followed a few times. I put myself in places where things could go wrong. But they didn’t.
Now — let me be clear — I am not very tall (at 5’6″ certainly not all that much taller than Indian men and women) and at the time, my skin was pretty brown and with my dark eyes and hair, I certainly did not stick out. No one ever guessed that I was from the US. I was even told that I could pass as Indian by more than one Indian.
And my skin color and hair color and the fact that I did not go out at night and did not wear revealing clothes probably helped. But it also probably helped that I smiled. A lot. That I made eye contact and tried to connect with people. I had a belief that if you see me, if you see me as a person, you will not hurt me.
I live in NYC now. I hear on the news stories of women being followed off the train and getting raped. I hear stories on the news of people being shot in neighborhoods not far from mine. I am more afraid here than I ever was in India. In India, I never worried that someone was carrying a gun. In India, I was never looked up and down in quite the same way as I am here.
This is not an India problem. This is a problem of how women are viewed and treated – everywhere.