The longer we are alone, the more selfish we get – and this is something I have come to realise with enjoying the liberating euphoria of managing difficult circumstances whilst travelling solo and then joining up with a group, where all decisions are taken out of your hands.
The first instance this became apparent to me was arriving in Delhi – and meeting up with other participants of the group and sharing a hotel transfer – which to me is all part of the journey, but not always so for others. I love the unknown complexities of other cultures, whether it be how they drive, how they eat or how they interact. Now having to share a transfer driving through the craziness and seemingly devil may care attitude of the local Indian drivers, I would have just absorbed the whole experience and soaked up the atmosphere, whereas others comment on the disasters of the system and compare home countries with the country they are visiting, together with the cringeworthy question to the taxi driver, “Who discovered India?” This I have to admit marred my first taste of this diverse country. The one con of group travel – a compromise I needed to make over the next two weeks of being part of a group. Everyone has their own way of handling situations and when put together with a group of 18 others, it can be quite challenging at times. But I came to India on the first of three legs, to join a retreat, to be guided on how to let go, how to stop taking myself so seriously and to stop judging. To each their own.
A group of 18 people from all walks of life, different ages, different countries, all on the same journey, but for vastly different reasons makes for an interesting trip. The awkwardness of having to share a room with a complete stranger, with different toilet routines, likes and dislikes, could be a real hit or miss situation. Do they snore, are they night owls or early birds, tidy or messy – immediately puts you out of your comfort zone, which is one of the aims of the retreat – stretch yourself and learn. To be tolerant, to be flexible. Things the entire world needs a lesson in.
At the same time – I was here for self improvement, to learn how to say no. To stop feeling guilty of my choices, to stop making excuses. Stand up and be counted.
Sitting here now typing this first blog of my experiences over the past 12 days, and maybe rambling a bit, where my mind seems to be racing faster than I can type – I know that I have always been tolerant and flexible and willing to compromise, but at the same time cherishing my next leg of this Indian journey of solo, one on one travel, where my psyche has changed from being part of the pack, where a switch has almost been turned on. My current view is over Mumbai, sitting on the 9th floor of the hotel, watching the ships coming in and out of the harbour, local boats ferrying people out for day excursions into the bay, the Gateway of India to the left with the majestic Taj Mahal Hotel dominating the skyline – I will be going there for lunch today. Solo!
So bottom line is – I am ultimately a lone wolf and whilst the past 12 days of sharing everything has been a truly amazing experience, I revel in being able to go where I want to go when I want to.