I travel solo in India, and I feel safe

In the current scenario of India, it is very strange on my part to come up with this article. I feel ashamed, helpless and angered by the increasing number of rape cases in the country. It has given me sleepless nights and at times I have wondered if I should reschedule my travel plans. But holding on to my urge to travel, I didn’t allow my fear to overpower me. I travelled solo this month and I have been doing this since I was eighteen. I travel solo in India and I feel safe. I wish no one goes through the horrendous situation and everyone feels safe, be at home or in a distant land. As a traveller, I would tell you how and why I feel safe for solo travels in India.

1Carry a self-defence equipment

To be on the safer side, I always carry a self defence equipment, even when I am travelling within the cities. I still carry a pepper spray and have even upgraded to a taser gun. I make sure to place them in the most conveniently reachable part of my bag. And if you know any self-defence art, it’s cherry on the cake.

2. Dress according to the culture

I have always been a rebel about wearing clothes and have never stuck to the conventions of Indian society about my dressing. But while you are travelling, it is always wise to dress according to the culture of the place and not hurt the sentiments of the locals. That does no way mean that a dress invites a crime. I am totally against the notion. But I like to dress comfortably and according to the local culture. That doesn’t even mean wearing a kurta or a saree while you are hiking in the jungle. I prefer wearing t-shirts and tracks. I would suggest to wear anything that doesn’t grab attention. While travelling in a rainforest, I would not like to be in my LBD or stilettos, I would rather be in something that is comfortable for a hike and not seeking attention.

3. You will meet people who will worry for your safety

When we have a perception about something or someplace, we tend to think of the place like the way we have read. It’s better to ignore the perception, let go of your jitters and be on the road and experience. You will know how to avoid the nasty ones. And don’t you think we will meet jerks if we are living in the comfort of our city lives? You meet them at nightclubs, schools, colleges. Avoid them. This time, when I was staying at Ginger Hotel in Delhi, because I had to catch the early morning train, I was a bit worried to walk or to take a cab to the station alone before sunrise, though the New Delhi Railway Station is a 3 mins walk from the hotel. So, I asked the person at the reception to help me with a security guard who could give me company to walk to the station in the early hours of the morning. I am grateful to the employees at Ginger for being sensitive about the issue. On my return journey, my train was to reach the Old Delhi railway station at 4 o clock in the morning. The lady of the homestay, where I was staying, informed me that there is a McDonald’s outlet at Platform No 1 and asked me to wait there till there is daylight. This information was helpful and I did accordingly. People are nice to solo travellers, especially female travellers all over the world and in India people really worry about you and want you to be safe.

4. You will find ‘women-only’ everything

From the queues at bus depots, to seats at metro rails, you will find ‘women-only’ everything. You will find cabs driven by women to homestay run by women. When I booked the first class train compartment  and got up in the train from Kathgodam, I was worried to find the entire compartment empty. I panicked for a moment. I sat on my berth hoping that the cabin shouldn’t be filled with men. And thankfully, the cabin was reserved for three other women, solo travellers. Later, we discussed we all had shared the same worries. Happily, we made our night journey discussing everything and even reached safely.

5. People in India are friendly

Of travelling over the years, I have always found people in India to be friendly and caring. They would take you to your home and feed you with the humblest meal, but would not allow you to stay hungry. What we consider as over-peering neighbours at times, turns out to be the most life-saving people in the country. They will constantly remind you to be safe, not to be vulnerable to strangers and will always permit you to contact them for emergencies.

Leave your jitters at home, tie your shoe laces. Sitting at home, worrying over the perceived notion of the world would not lead to any experience. Work towards a better and safe place and walk fearlessly.

 

Ping’s Cafe Orient, Park Street, Kolkata

Ping’s Cafe Orient was in my bucket list from the time it opened. And when I finally could make time for a lunch there, I realised it was worth being in the bucket list.

Park Street is one of my favourite neighbourhoods in town because of its old world charm. Ping’s Cafe Orient, though is a new kid on the block, has a contemporary look but has the spell of the old world. The decor with old things, like the postbox at the door, the fox candy’s tin up-cycled as tableware holder adds an ‘X’ factor to the place. It’s the perfect balance between both the worlds and delicious cuisine with responsible cooking and service.

 

They use only heart-healthy oils such as soyabean, extra virgin olive and sunflower, maximizing the nutritional goodness with fresh ingredients but not compromising on the richness of the flavours. Each taste lingers in your mouth, urging you to visit again for a guilt free dining experience.

I was bowled over by their attempt to be environmentally conscious by trying to use eco-friendly bio-degradable materials. What impressed me most were the ever-smiling hospitable employees.

We ordered for, to start with, Spicy Chicken Dumpling with Thai Lemongrass Cooler and Apple & Ginger Collins. For the mains, we had Chicken Hakka Noodles with Chicken with chilli and fresh mushrooms. The dishes had the perfect amount of freshness of the ingredients and the mixture of the flavours. We signed off with Poached pear with caramelized walnuts & vanilla ice-cream. This is one of the best poached pear I had till date, soft yet with a crunch and every bite of it leaving a taste in your mouth. We were treated in the beginning with some crackers and at the end with some chinese jasmine tea. The quantity and quality of the food here, is top notch.

The attention it is receiving is well-deserved. Everything at this place would make your heart crave to go back again.

Energy-Packed Pancakes

If you are looking for a healthy breakfast option or a energy packed meal after workout, this is going to refuel you and the needs of your body.

Ingredients:

Wheat Flour: 1 cup

Strawberry: 1/2

Homemade Cottage Cheese: 2 teaspoon

Grated Coconut: 2 teaspoon

Milk: 1/4 cup

Eggs: 2

 

Procedure:

  1. Chop the strawberry into pieces.
  2. Mix all the other ingredients with a hand blender or in a food mixer. Add the strawberries to it.
  3. Heat frying pan on oven top. Add a drop of olive oil/white oil.
  4. Pour or scoop the batter onto the frying pan.
  5. Once the side is golden brown, flip it.
  6. Once, even the other side is golden brown, the pancake is ready.

Serve the hot stack of pancakes with maple syrup or honey. If you find nolen gur (jaggery), you may serve the pancakes with the same. Nothing like eating local and seasonal.

 

JW Kitchen, an experience

Being a foodie since time immemorable obviously urges me to try out new places in town. But, being a social vegan and selectively choosing to go out is quite contrasting to the whole scene.

I love the brand JW Mariott, and I had to try out their food. So, I made sure to head out for lunch with my folks. Pleasantly surprising was, it was the 1st anniversary of JW Mariott in Kolkata. Along with the brand, we celebrated its 1st anniversary with food and cocktails at JW Kitchen.

 

I always feel special when the chef or the manager comes to the table and asks about the food and the hospitality. This makes you feel royal. But it’s more about the hospitality than me feeling royal.

Though I am a food goblet, yet it is practically impossible to try out everything in a single lunch. My favourite was the cheese section, where they have an international selection of cheese. The prawn cocktails and the salads are really great and you should not miss it. I literally had 3 plates of different selection of breads and salads. The chicken and parmesan salad is a treat to all the senses. I think I would go back one day only for the desserts, which had the low sugar carrot cakes, apple pie and a wide array of selection. I ended my trip with an espresso with the hazelnut cake.

I bite my nails because I do not have enough pictures, but trust me, it’s more of an experience. And particularly for this day, I wanted to soak in the experience, the sight of the food, the generousness of the employees and the taste that leaves you numb in that gastronomic pleasure. That leaves me with another day to go back to this place to freeze edible moments and memories.

I am not a food blogger within inverted commas, with due respect to all. But, I blog for the experience, I write to read memories. And for that reason I would not discuss the price, you can obviously find it out from various sources. But one thing I must mention is that I was pleasantly surprised that 28% GST wasn’t charged, I thought food and beverage at a 5-star is 28%, but we were only charged 18%. For the price, it’s more than worth it, I recommend you must visit JW Kitchen once, for that fine-dining experience. You go to a place, not just for the food, but for the experience and I could see that sense of relaxation in my parent’s smile. The brand stays loyal to its name and principles in every sense.