OK, first things first, I want to thank each person for reading my blog. I received an overwhelming response on my last blog post. This support and love drives me to write on days when I cannot even move my finger.
In my last post, the Good Guy Part 1, I was running late, my phone was about to die, and I had to get back to my room within an hour. Covering 15 km distance in the mountains in an hour can be an easy feat for the locals, but it seemed like climbing Mt Everest to me.
After paying for my food and handing over some cash to the kids to buy toys, I said goodbye to the family and started walking towards the bus stop. A few steps later, I heard someone calling me " Madam, Madam". I turned around to see the good guy again, approaching me on his two-wheeler. I was happy to see him again. He said that he was going to the town to collect some keys from his house and then he said those golden words - "I will drop you at the bus stop." I imagined him wearing a superhero suit ready to rescue me. OK, sorry, I am exaggerating. But that was the moment when without a second thought, I jumped on his scooter and said, "Chalo Bhaiya.". Throughout the ride, I thanked him constantly. I think I went a bit overboard with my gratitude.
He dropped me off a few minutes later near the bus stop, where young boys were chattering away at 10 in the morning. I was too quick to judge them, thinking, why aren't they doing anything. The good guy started talking to one of the boys in the group. I didn't understand anything as they were speaking Himachali. Then he turned to me and said, "Madam, he will drop you at your hostel. The next bus is at 3 pm."
I froze there. I didn't understand what to process first.
a) There isn't any bus until 3 pm.
b) I will be taking another risk of hopping on a two-wheeler with another stranger.
I looked at the Good Guy, wondering if this was some con act. But, unfortunately, we've heard so many bad things in the news that you can never be too cautious as a woman travelling alone.
I think he understood the concern on my face. He assured me that he was his cousin and it was safe to go with him. I believed him mainly because I'd met his family.
That's when I looked at the 2nd Good Guy I met that day, after a more cautious assessment of him. He looked young. He was wearing his Himachali hat which accentuated his pahadi look.
I got off the scooter and waited while the 2nd Good Guy started his Royal Enfield Bullet. He said, "Chaliye, Madam," but I was still hesitant to get on the motorbike. However, Good Guy 1 assured me that it was OK to go with him.
I smiled at him and hopped on the Bullet. The sound of the Royal Enfield, the mountain's twisted roads, and the beauty around you leave you in complete awe. I was mesmerised. I realised why poets love to write about free birds. The feeling of the wind in the hair and pure air filling your lungs and soul makes everything else seem so insignificant.
I asked him his name, which I don't remember now. Then, I asked him how old he was; he said he was 20. Then, I asked him about his education and career plans. He said that he wanted to become a politician. Then, he told me about the issues in his town and how he wanted to make a difference.
I checked my phone; I saw that there was still some battery left to make some videos. So I started shooting videos on my phone. Then I asked what kind of music the locals listened to; he said it was mostly Himachali and Punjabi music. So I asked him about the artists. He did tell me a few, but it's a shame I forgot their names when I reached my room.
It was around 10.40 am when I saw my hostel. I asked him to stop the motorbike outside the hostel. I thanked him for the ride and offered to pay him cash for the petrol. He politely declined the offer and said he had some work in the market, so he travelled daily. We said our goodbyes. As he speeded off towards the market, I stood there, experiencing extreme happiness and joy.
Read: The Good Guy | Part 1
I do not advocate that when travelling alone, you should risk these kinds of journeys while throwing caution to the wind. However, it's best to use your judgement and err on the positive side, if at all. I was lucky enough to meet some fantastic people on my travels, but this may not be the case always.
Having said that, this is why solo travelling is so amazing. You are purely going by your instincts, which just keeps getting better and better, preparing you to face any challenge in your daily routine more efficiently.