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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.

the masses

the masses

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.

13 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’m so glad that you had a positive experience. I have travelled to India on three separate occasions and totaling six months. I never felt unsafe as a blonde solo traveller although I was wary at times, but not unlike a lot of places. All of my expereinces have been positive and I can’t wait to go back again one day,

    August 27, 2013
  2. I agree and thank you for saying it! I keep thinking… if we judge the BILLION of people in India by their crimes (which are terrible, I’m not downplaying obviously) what does that say about all of the GUN TOTING, shooting Americans. I mean… I just don’t think this country in particular should have much to say about anything.

    August 27, 2013
    • EXACTLY! I can’t help but make comparisons in my head…. there are crappy things that happen all over the world, unfortunately. And what has happened in India, I do not wish on any woman. But – the same goes for violence against women here. and in Bolivia. and in Russia. and everywhere.

      August 27, 2013
  3. marina #

    thanks for sharing! I had pretty much the same experience and went back for another 2 months in February. in india, every day is different; an adventure, a struggle, a triumph and just amazing. it’s never easy, but i found that with an open mind and heart, it reminded me how strong i am. AND I just moved to nyc, as well 🙂

    August 27, 2013
    • Awesome to hear Marina – and we should meet up to talk India! 🙂
      It is a pretty amazing place…. NYC and India!

      August 27, 2013
  4. Nice to hear of your positive experiences in India. I agree, it does happen everywhere, but it’s only in India where I hear of women getting sexually assaulted in public, in full daylight, and even with companions around her. And it happens to both women who don’t smile like Michaela Cross, and women who do try to connect. I like India, I’m going back there, but I don’t deny that these things happen there a lot. We always talk about “taking back the night,” but in India, the women didn’t have that in the first place.

    August 27, 2013
    • Yes….. I agree that the stories from India are bad – I don’t want to take away from those women and their experiences. All I am saying is that it happens elsewhere too. I have had men make comments to me and/or do things that make me uncomfortable – here in NYC. In front of other people. On the train and in the middle of the day. There is work to be done, world wide, to level the playing field for men and women – for us all to feel safe.

      August 27, 2013
      • I’m glad violence against women is being discussed openly now in India, and that a lot of men are aware of the issue and willing to address it. It’s an uphill battle but someday we’ll get there, when we don’t have to hide to feel safe.

        August 28, 2013
    • JK #

      Meh, pure BS! Can you point to just one news article about “women getting sexually assaulted in public, in full daylight in India”?

      2 women were gang raped by 10-12 men in a public park, in full daylight in Delaware.
      An 8 year old girl was raped in a New York public library one afternoon.

      Both the cases are not more than 20 days old. So, how come you say “it’s only in India”?

      October 3, 2013
      • JK —

        I am not sure what you are referring to, as my whole point was that it is NOT just in India!

        October 3, 2013

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