Editor’s Note: This month, that is August 2019, FII’s #MoodOfTheMonth is Travel, where we invite various articles narrating bitter-sweet travel experiences. If you’d like to share your story, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anyone who has seen Dil Chahta Hai must have imagined going on a trip to Goa with their friends. I know I did. My aspirations increased post watching Zindagi Na Millega Dobara and I decided that Goa would no longer suffice; a foreign location is must for the ultimate travel trip with my girl friends. However, as always happens, I realized that unfortunately, reality is a bit different from scripted and scenic movies.
Dreams of travelling with my girlfriends shattered post boards, when my parents decided that we are still too young for an all girls trip, never mind an all girls trip to Goa of all places. Entering college with the baggage of shattered dreams and lingering aspirations, my girlfriends and I got to work, brainstorming ways to convince our parents and finding the ‘appropriate’ location.
However, where we were in our bubble of Dil chahta Hai, imaging beaches, bikinis, instagram-worthy photos and poolside parties, our parents were stuck in their horrifying nightmare akin to that of Angry Indian Goddesses , thinking of their inebriated daughters getting harassed, getting lost, or worse, raped and murdered in a city far away from the shelter of their safe home. If I think objectively, these concerns of our parents were not unfound, but we wanted our days and nights of freedom so desperately, that these concerns seemed trivial.
So when the opportunity of going to Jaipur for the Jaipur Literary Festival(JLF) arrived earlier this year, we jumped at it. Sure, it was no Goa, but it was the answer to our dreams of independence. Moreover, we all were avid readers, so our desires were satiated. There was no way our parents could say no to Jaipur. It checked all the boxes.
Where we were in our bubble of Dil chahta Hai, our parents were stuck in their horrifying nightmare akin to that of Angry Indian Goddesses , thinking of their inebriated daughters getting harassed,getting lost, or worse, raped and murdered in a city far away from the shelter of their safe home.
It was a safe city, with comparatively less crime rate. It was just a 4 hour train ride away. We were going for academic purposes (going for JLf was even encouraged), not to party and lie around on beaches all in revealing clothes. Most importantly, our parents had friends in the city who were called and alerted of our presence in the city, and graciously offered us boarding at their place. So leaving behind happy parents whose concerns we had addressed, we set out on our literary adventure.
Looking back on my all-girls trip to Jaipur now, I would recommend every woman to go on at least one trip with their girlfriends once in their lifetime. It could be a trip to anywhere (we went to Jaipur so we can’t insist on it being an exciting location, really), for any length of time, but it’s an experience which you’ll remember always.
Travelling with my girlfriends was liberating. It is an experience which can’t be substituted with any other. In travelling with parents, responsibility and freedom is a myth. In a group of friends of both sexes, chivalry (read: machismo) enters into the equation as male friends offer to graciously take care of tasks which are considered too tasking for dainty females—picking up luggage, arranging transportation, going out and getting food, and a lot more.
One doesn’t realize just how peaceful travel is when there is no mansplaining, no one going over safety precautions and no eyes judging decisions and outfits. This is why I called travelling with my female friends liberating. Not only do the bonds made during the shared responsibility of travel and enjoyment of freedom last long, but they also instill a sense of empowerment.
My girl friends and I shared all responsibilities equally during our travel. We carried our own bags, arranged our own travel, ensured our safety while going out, without any male interference. The realization that one is fully capable of taking care of oneself comes only when one realizes just how many decisions others take on their behalf on daily basis.
However, no matter how liberating or empowering my all girls trip was, the experience of travelling without any male presence was still daunting. My trip let to the realization that how much easier it is for a group of men to travel. In a patriarchal one, they don’t have to worry about being dressing appropriately for the journey or be worried about walking on the road late at night.
My trip let to the realization that how much easier it is for a group of men to travel. In a patriarchal one, they don’t have to worry about being dressing appropriately for the journey or be worried about walking on the road late at night.
As a group of girls who set out to travel, worry accompanies liberation. Even after deciding to travel to a safe city and assuaging parental concerns by staying with known people, we still had numerous other aspects to fret upon. We had to ensure that our train left and arrived during day time so that we could reach home at appropriate times, check in with our parents constantly, make sure to stay together in a group, splurge on cabs and be constantly checking google maps to check where you are, the list is seemingly endless.
The whole ordeal made me envious of the carefree lifestyle that men unknowingly enjoy. While my friends and I made most of our trip, the undercurrent of constant checking the time, looking for safe ways back to accommodation and sharing our live location with parents- we were never really able to let go.
Travel, while liberating and empowering for women, comes with its own set of restrictions and tensions. Maybe that’s why we can’t envision Dil Chahta Hai with female characters, because we know that the experience won’t be the same for a group of women travelling together.
Featured Image Source: Worldly Adventurer