Armed with 202 rupees, I left our house for the first time alone, on my first solo trip in India…
The mission: to get a cup of coffee. Nagpur is a pretty safe place so this is not a dramatic tale, everyone seems friendly and I cannot see any harm coming my way on these streets lined with trees. Any apprehension I have stems from the fact that even though I have lived here for almost a month now, I have never gone anywhere without a chaperon. I also have the voices of those who have advised me to ‘never go anywhere alone in India’ reverberating through my mind.
It is midday, the streets are busy, everything is good.
My husband works long hours, 6 days a week, I only venture beyond the walls of the house after he is home. It is now time for me to gain some independence and step outside without him, I am spending too much of my time wistfully looking out of the window. India is now my home, it is time to start exploring it for myself. Whilst we were driving to a restaurant, one night last week, I had spotted a coffee shop not too far away from where we live, I decided that is where I would go.
I felt quite proud of my self and had a sense of renewed independence as I walked down the road. I soon realised how tricky it is to walk in flip-flops if your walking a distance longer than from your car to your house. I came across a familiar cow, she usually loiters close to our house. She reared her head and looked straight at me, maybe she recognised me, or maybe she thought I had food in my pocket, she looks very similar to the cows we have back in England.
Crossing the road was nerve-wracking. I am yet to work out how Indian traffic works, if there is a system at all, and struggling with the flip-flops made running difficult. Two-wheelers came out of nowhere, people were making U-turns in the middle of the road and whilst carefree pedestrians wandered across the road regardless of the oncoming traffic as if they were indestructible, I waited for several minutes to gain the confidence to cross. I ran awkwardly and made it safely to the other side, I way I ran in those flip-flops looked like someone running in flippers, making me look like the chicken who crossed the road.
I really need to get some other shoes or get used to wearing those flip-flops.
The short walk was lovely. I saw a group of beautifully dressed women wearing sarees waiting for a bus, with flowers in their hair, an interesting squirrel type fellow and several dogs relaxing in the midday sun. A couple of people shouted ‘ayyy foreigner’ from their two-wheelers, a group of pig tailed school girls giggled to each other whilst looking at me and I had my fair share of stares.
After ten minutes I arrived at our local CCD (café coffee day), everyone stopped talking and looked at me as I walked through the door. The coffee itself was okay. Once I had finished, feeling very proud of myself, I made my way home.
I am feeling more and more at home here as every day passes. Where to next? I have 130 rupees left!