I just came back from my SWBT (Single Woman Budget Traveler) trip to Manali, Leh and parts of Ladakh. I went impromptu, solo, on a budget, I traveled in state run public transport and shared cabs and stayed in low cost home stays (costing INR 400-500 per night). I think what I did was pretty unique, at least in my two weeks of journey I didn’t meet another solo woman traveling whether Indian or foreigner. But that doesn’t mean its an impossible feat only I am able to achieve, I believe any woman can do it. I understand not many people like to travel alone, it is after all nice to have company. But if you are a woman who likes to be on her own then don’t let ‘safety issue’ come  in the way, just drop the inhibitions and go. I think more of us women need to dare everything and go out and claim the public space. Claim the open air and endless sky.

Of course not all destinations are safe, and I will keep going on my SWBT trips to find out first hand which are the safe ones and which are not. You can read about my experiences on my travel blog here. Ladakh is a safe destinations so you need not fear the people so much but you should be prepared for a harsh weather and tough terrains. Ladakh is surely not for the luxurious tourists.

When my fellow travelers whom I met in the journey asked me what do I do for a living, I said, “I quit jobs”. That’s right, that’s what I do for a living, surely to quit jobs you need to have jobs. So in June 2015 I quit from PRIA as Communications Officer. I had given around 15 months to PRIA and have made immense contribution towards its online communications, brand visibility, strategic partnerships and more. The organization’s online presence was almost zero as they didn’t have a dedicated communication person for a very long  time. With my efforts the online brand visibility of PRIA had a growth of about 400%. New media relationships were forged with popular online brands like DNA and IamIn, Google Ad grants received and so much more that cannot be quantified. I was doing great at PRIA and everything was perfect and yet I quit.

A change. Something new. Something I haven’t done before. Something crazy and shocking. These are my sins, my poison.

Ladakh beckoned as soon as I quit. My experimental solo trip after such a long time. Then as soon as I was back from Ladakh the Women’s Web editor asked me to do film reviews for her, Masaan this week and Drishyam next week. I am applying for a conference where I wish to make a presentations of my photographs on the theme of ‘Gender and Public Spaces’. If my abstract is accepted, I would travel some more to collect more photographs of public spaces.

This is how I want to spend my life, travel for some days, come back and write about the experiences, watch films, write reviews, take photos, travel some more and so on. What the hell was I doing in a 14 hours a day job? Why do I keep going back to those jobs? Well because I need to keep paying the bills.

I met an Australian girl in Ladakh, she said she works for six months and travels for six months. I find it so amazing that people in the first world countries can be so flexible with their jobs. They can find a job anytime they want. When we quit jobs we run the risk of never finding another one, quitting jobs frequently is a bad bad thing for your career, we like to hire people with stable consistent career graph. Something I don’t and will never have.

So life is once again off the track, a lot of uncertainty and excitement awaits. I plan to do a lot of travel and photography the next few months and simultaneously prepare for my MA in Women and Gender Studies 3rd term papers due in December. Wish to do some volunteering work but not on the job search anytime soon. The plan is to be a Gender Consultant and trainer once the MA degree is complete.