Published: 12th October 2018
Nancy Nayak is travelling solo through the country, but she finds love wherever she goes
Nayak finds joy in sharing her travel experiences via writing. For the same, she uses social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook
Listening to Nancy Nayak and her tales of solo travel is like catching up with a long lost buddy. Without any hesitation or apprehension, she tells us about Vinyak, someone she met while she was in Cuckoo Forest School, Tamil Nadu, who made musical instruments. Though they did not have any language in common, he made her an instrument out of bamboo and she gave him her harmonica to reciprocate the kind gesture. And when she plays the bamboo instrument, she says that it sounds like the falling rain. Being a people person, she even tells us about how she once helped a friend set up a kirana store of his own in Old City, Hyderabad where she used to live, to steer through tough financial times. She even helped man the shop with him and sometimes, without him. "I even taught him how to make a paper bag to curb the use of plastic. The bag requires no tape or stapler and is quite sturdy," says Nayak who quit her job as an HR Business partner in Reliance, Mumbai when she decided to embrace the life of uncertainty and travel.
Nayak pursued a Master's in HR from TISS, Mumbai and worked at Reliance for almost two years. Nayak mostly travels by local buses and trains, and never purchases a return ticket
But before we credit this move to wanderlust or her need to serve, she makes it clear that, "I'm not travelling with the intention of changing the world, but I certainly want to contribute, if not through my actions, then at least by being there," says the 25-year-old, who started a Facebook page called Little Conversations and More to post snippets about the conversations she has with those she meets. But there is no denying the fact that she is changing things at least a little bit, one trip at a time. "Solo travel is not as glamorous as it looks. There are times when even I have doubts and questions as to what I'm up to or what will happen next. Then, I wait for the next moment. I take things slowly, one day at a time. It is about giving up control in life and trusting elements beyond me that the universe unfolds," she says. From her first trip to Anegundi near Hampi, where she fell in love with River Tungabhadra, to Melkote, where she attended a charkha workshop to Eraviperoor village in Kerala for flood relief volunteering — she is certainly making a difference.
All together: Nayak, during one of her trips in India
When we implore her to give us a few details about the Kerala trip, she narrates how she travelled from Bengaluru to Eraviperoor with a fellow volunteer and 50 cartons of relief material. She helped distribute the material, cleaned homes and worked with the Gram Panchayat there. Unintentionally, she had arrived on Onam and when she left, after eight days, the woman whose house she was staying in, was emotional. And so was Nayak. "She hugged me tight and we broke down. She made me promise that I'll visit next Onam as well," she recalls. From there she went to Alappuzha, where she struck up a conversation with a coconut water seller on the beach and convinced him to forgo plastic straws. "I even engaged the community there and we wrote slogans in Malayalam and English which discouraged the use of straws," she says.
Nayak comes from a joint family in Indore and had a tough time convincing her family that she wanted to quit her job, a job she loved, to travel. Though it is difficult, she knows that secretly, her father understands her and she is thankful for that
But it was back in Mumbai itself when Nayak had started the page Little Conversations and More which features snippets of conversations that she has had while travelling. One such conversation that she had struck up was with an autowala in Anegundi that ended in her being invited to a wedding! "It was a Muslim wedding, but they arranged vegetarian food just for me. They even explained all the traditions and customs to me, as it was all new to me," says Nayak, who was in New Delhi when we spoke to her and was leaving for Rishikesh. So, where to from there, we ask. "Don't ask me such logical questions, I don't know. All I know is that I am going with the flow. In my case, my journey is not attached to any specific outcome that is tangible. When I fail to provide answers to logical questions, it becomes a challenging conversation," confesses Nayak. But our conversation was anything but challenging, though it did challenge us to want to pick up our bags and travel bravely, just like Nayak.
I have come to realise that it is important for every person to live their truth, by travelling I feel I am living mine
Tips for the solo women traveller:
- Trust your intuition, it plays a very important role.
- Whenever Nayak travels to a new place, she tries to reach there by daytime, so that she has an ample amount of time to find accommodation.
- She rarely stays at hotels because they offer standard experiences. She opts for hostels or homestays with families that have women and children, just to be safe.
- Wherever she is, she makes it a point to find out when shops close for the day, so that she can get herself indoors before that.