Unforeseen circumstances led me to end up without my travelling companion in the middle of India. Having only been here for just a month I decided to stay on, even though in all honesty I was terrified. It’s not that I am not capable of going around on my own, it’s mostly because I am a woman left alone in India.
This thought sounds pretty sexist, true, but after having western and even Indian media constantly bombarded with the terrible reality of women getting raped, and having friends and family advice you not to go off alone, I was left terribly afraid for my own self-preservation. So why stay on alone?
Mostly it’s because I wanted to defy my lack of courage and face reality while learning to protect myself. Realistically, I spent months preparing for this trip and I did not want to leave so soon.
Here are a few suggestions that will help you take care of yourself if you find yourself in these circumstances:
Know where you are going. India is a huge country, for the matter anywhere unknown to us is huge, but for countries where unfortunately severe harassment and abuse are a reality it is better be organised and have a good idea where you’re going, to avoid relying on strangers all the time and to also be confident enough to go around on your own.
Do not give out extra information and, if necessary, lie. People, especially in India, tend to ask you a lot of questions – are you alone, if they see you with a friend, is he your husband, and so on. If you are in a position where you want to get away and cannot, invent something like “my friend is waiting for me”. Or if asked if you are alone, say “no I am here with a friend/a group of friends”. In the end if you do not feel comfortable just leave. People’s outwardly friendliness might make you feel bad to be rude, but if you are not feeling comfortable, it is far better to be safe than sorry, even if in reality many times there might have been no real danger.