To travel alone is to have all strangers as fellow travellers.
It gives you the benefit of interactions, spontaneous and unforeseen to the point of being magical.
You feel closer to life around you, and exude warmth that fetches smiles, conversations and memories (unless you are a nervous wreck and feel lost)
When in Goa, I took a bus ride to Colva. Amidst smell of fish and joyous music, the bus window opened to markets, green interiors and cool breeze on the bridge, which freshened my senses and pampered my eyes. I reached my destination in an hour and a half, and was delighted to find the beach not as thronged by crowd as I had feared it might be. On the contrary, it was peaceful and relatively quiet. I could stand in the water, close my eyes and hear the waves in their majestic splendour. These are times when the vanities of life seem so petty and trivial and the soul craves for a better thinking and happier existence.
I spent quite some time walking around and collecting shells, which attracted a lot of attention and once I got tired of answering to the most mundane questions as to which country I belonged and why only women who are not from Goa seem to be collecting shells etc. I decided to sit in a corner and choose from my newly acquired treasure.
I was spreading the shells on the sand and categorizing them when I realized that through them I had captured the very colors of Goa. The houses, the ornamentations, everything I saw around me was there in those shells. I could relate them to all the lovely imagescapes I had had the pleasure of viewing from the bus. Occupied and exulting in my discovery I barely noticed a father and his daughter approaching me until the girl exclaimed in delight at my collection.
She told me about her own collection and admired mine. I smiled at her and asked her purpose of visit. She turned out to be Mysore’s Chess Champion who was there for an International Chess Championship. Her father took great pride in discussing his daughter’s achievements while she merrily showed me her shells.
It was a happy conversation post which they left. I suddenly felt shallow and small, I could have given her some of my shells and wished her luck, but I was so preoccupied in my quest for solitude that I did not allow them a proximity that were to be.
I got up and started walking towards the bus when someone came from behind. It was the little girl. She dropped two big shells and said, “You can keep these”.