A few days before I had to leave, I was in a blue funk about what I was going to do. Wondering if I had gone insane. Why was I travelling all alone to a foreign land? What am I trying to prove? (A question asked almost by everyone)
I knew the answers to all of these. It wasn’t to prove anything. Not to myself. Not to the world. I was doing it because I wanted to. As simple as that. I always wanted to travel alone, specifically backpack alone. I didn’t know yet if I would like it or hate it. But, I had to do it. And, I had chosen Deutschland as my destination. It was comparatively cheaper than France(my dream vacation. Backpacking through the vineyards of South of France. Sigh!) and was ranked as one of the safest country for a lone woman to travel.
Why does everyone try to dissect and over-analyze everything? This is still going on. Even almost a month after my return. I realized with all the gossip I hear, that the biggest issue was, me being a woman, married, with a kid, leaving everyone to travel by herself.
That sure doesn’t sound right!! Why is she doing that? Did she forget? SHE IS A WOMAN!!!
Well, you are right!! You sure don’t seem to question the men who leave their parents, wife and babies at home to go on a vacation? Coz according to our society, they were born with a more interesting anatomy?
Anyways,let’s not rant on society’s double standards. Atleast not today.
So, the day arrives. I must have looked at all my tickets a million times. 4 flights from Hyderabad to Munich. I was going to be my efficient self and know all the details without a need to cross check.
My flight to Mumbai was at 8:30 in the morning. So, I am up at 4:00, showered, ready, packed, breakfast done, at the airport by 6:30. I decide to stay near my gate and quickly grab something to eat. And, then I realize that I goofed up. My flight is at 11:00. The 8:30 in my head is my flight from Rome the next day. I slow clap in my head for myself. Great start Deepi Rao! Just Great!
Its 7 in the morning. I go get myself breakfast and a beer. Start my kindle. Let the vacation begin!!!
Slightly buzzed, already feeling bloated with the beer, I wait for the boarding. Met a few friends on the flight and was told how lucky and gutsy I was to be doing this. In Mumbai, I met a few school friends after almost 17 years. Nothing had changed. We turned back into the 15 year olds for those few hours. I was later picked up by another friend I had met on my rafting trip last year. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to catch up. But, I got the lovely Indian hospitality of packed food and drop to the airport.
My first time at the Mumbai International airport. In the past, I had always flown out of Hyderabad. Thanks to another friend’s advice to buy tickets from Mumbai than Hyderabad, I saved almost Rs.10,000. Like most travelers, I had also looked for the cheaper if not the cheapest option available. Well, frankly mine was the cheapest and so had my share of adventures.
The airlines I was flying through was Al Italia. In Mumbai airport, they had no clue of this airline. They hadn’t even heard about it. I wait with my backpack, shifting my weight from one leg to the other, willing myself to not keep it down. Reminding myself that I am not gonna be working out for the next 2 weeks and I have to do this, while the boss of the boss of the girl I asked about my flight tries to figure out where I should go. So, finally we come to know that Al Italia coach shares with Etihad. So, off I go. Check in my 12 Kg backpack and walk the long walk to my boarding gate.
The airport is filled with families leaving on a vacation. Escaping the unbearable Indian heat. One could see airplanes from a close distance on the way to the boarding gates. There are a bunch of teenage girls walking right in front of me. One of them, suddenly squeals and points at the airplane. The other says “Wow! Just like 50 shades of Grey!” And, then all three of them collectively sigh. I start missing my 12 Kg backpack. Would have loved to use it to knock their stupid heads together.
The idea that people were loving the books was troubling enough, but now teenagers crazy about the movie?! Nauseating!! It was depressing to think that, that was their idea of literature, books, art and above all, romance.
Now again, I was getting apprehensive about the whole trip. This is like a free fall. Don’t know where I am going to land, don’t know what I am getting into. But, that was also the thrill. Unknown new experiences.
I finally begin my long journey from India to Germany. Thanks to the very comfortable (even) economy class and surprisingly tasty food of Etihad, it wasn’t too bad. My first transit was at at Abu Dhabi where I alternated between freezing to death and breaking my neck while dozing and falling off my chair. I slept fitfully from Abu Dhabi to Rome.
Woke up to be greeted by the gorgeous view of deep blue sea dotted with yachts, shingled red and white houses. I had already started planning my next vacation. The airport on the other hand, was a nightmare. Airoporto Di Roma is an extremely unorganized and confusing place. And, this is coming from an Indian, so you know what it means. Long queue at the security check, which I passed through by looking at adorable babies and the fiery Italian women in their bright make up, curly red and black hair, jeans with studs n spikes. I can never imagine dressing up like that. But, that’s because I will probably look like Govinda or Mithun.
I almost missed my flight, thanks to my greed for a Nutella Gran croissant. I somehow made it to my gate which I reached after two intra airport bus rides. The bus driver was so good looking that one could be tempted to cancel their travel plans and spend the rest of the days sailing the deep blue sea with him. Fortunately for me and very unfortunately for the bus driver, I wasn’t the one.
After all the rush, where I missed window shopping in D&G at the airport, the flight was late. By late, I mean really late. We had to almost wait for 20 mins when another bus came to take us. I was sick of the buses by now. And, the couple next to me weren’t helping my mood. Absolutely besotted with each other, murmuring sweet nothings and throwing a kiss at an average interval of 10 seconds.
Al Italia is to Italy what Spice Jet is to India.Tiny little aircrafts shuddering throughout, it restores your faith in god. Whatever I could see of Rome during the take off was heart warming. Beautiful, green open fields with pockets of water between them. Small clusters of buildings, sometimes a single cottage at the end of a field.
This was the best part of my vacation since I left home. My fears and anxieties are slowly replaced by excitement and eagerness as I watch the sunlight reflected off the water dance in the cabin.