Jincy V Profile picture
Nov 15 51 tweets 15 min read
I finally went on my first-ever solo trip. How did this girl who has been timid most of her life, do this? Well if I have to sum it up in one word - regret - I didn't want to die with a regret. A regret doing nothing to make my dream come true.

So what was my dream? How did I do this trip? Read on to know more...


Since the time I was 15 years old (which is 21 years ago) I've wanted to meet #RuskinBond. We had a story #TheCherryTree from one of his books. This was the first Ruskin Bond story I read and since that day in 2001, I thought I'll meet him someday.

Never did I ever think I'd have to wait for more than 20 years! I belong to a middle-class family. And for most of my growing-up years, vacations to any place other than my native (#Kerala) were impossible.

And so my dream of making it to #Mussoorie to meet Ruskin Bond was going to be a distant dream. I grew up and eventually got a job, but I still didn't make this trip mostly because as girls, you are not encouraged to follow your dreams, let alone fulfil them.

I think a part of me buried and tucked this dream away for a long, long time. But something happened in 2020.
In September 2020, when we were still figuring out #Covid, I felt very guilty about not doing anything about my childhood dream.

With so much uncertainty around life in the times of Covid, I wasn't sure if Ruskin and I would make it alive. He was over 85 anyway. I already have a long line of regrets in my life. But this one felt the heaviest that day in September.

I felt like I gave up on that 15-year-old Jincy. And that hurt a lot. A lot. To overcome that sadness, regret & guilt, I donated an amount equivalent to what I would have spent on travelling to Dehradun to a cause I saw online. I felt better, but the regret was still alive.
A dear friend, @sujitha315 who learnt of my childhood dream promised me that we would go see Ruskin as soon as it was okay to travel. Both of us diligently checked and reminded each other of this promise from time to time.

But even after two years of this commitment, we were unable to make a plan because of other obligations. That is when in October this year I decided that I will do this alone. After all, this was the 15-year-old Jincy's dream.

I told Sujitha and another friend about my decision to travel alone. Once I had their consent, I booked tickets to Dehradun on 9th October, exactly a month before my birthday, without thinking twice.

I had recently switched jobs, and getting a week's leave was going to be difficult. I was honest with my manager about when and why I needed leaves. She was gracious enough to approve my leave and wish me luck for my journey.

With the help of another friend, Kashish, I was able to find a guesthouse that was reasonably priced. All that was left to happen was the travel. I suffer from travel anxiety, especially if the travel is via flight.

And no, it is not the fear of death that causes me anxiety, but mundane things like - is this item allowed in the cabin or should it go to check-in baggage and vice versa. Will I miss my flight? etc etc. In order to cope with this anxiety, I pack as soon as possible.

Finally, on the morning of 4th November, I was on the way to the airport for my flight. I also made a good friend on the train journey to the airport. To whose house I've self-invited myself for a plate of urunu vadas.

After multiple rescheduling, my flight finally took off, hours later than originally planned. I was irritated, but I tried my best to be happy as I didn't want my solo trip to start on a bad note.

As the flight was about to land at #Dehradun, I was delighted to see the beautiful #WinterLine. That was perhaps a small glimpse of how beautiful this trip would be.

At the airport, the owner of the guesthouse was waiting for me. Though it added to my trip expenses, I am grateful that he took leave from work and was waiting for me at the airport.

The hills get darker earlier than other places, so without him, getting to the guesthouse would have been a challenge. Especially via roads that went through the jungle that housed wild animals like leopards, bears, elephants etc.

I reached the guesthouse close to 11 at night. The weather was very different from what I was used to in Bombay. I took out the muffler and gloves to keep me warm. Little did I know that getting sleep that night would be tough.

Tired as I was, I thought I would sleep like a child in that cold, but for reasons I dont know, I couldn't sleep that night. Kept waking up now and then. Not sure if it was the cold, or something else. I also realised that time moved very slowly in the mountains.

Every time I woke up to check the time, I realised it was just five minutes ago or so since I last checked. When I reached at night, I couldn't see the place I was staying at clearly in the dark, but I did see beautiful silhouettes of tall, dark trees.

I couldn't wait to see the place in the morning. I woke up after sunrise, at around 7am. As I opened my eyes to the world around me, I was amazed by the beauty of the place.

It was a Saturday. The morning of 5th November was my first chance of making my dream come true. Before the pandemic, Ruskin Bond used to frequent a bookstore in Mussoorie, #CambridgeBookDepot. I called them up to ask if I can meet him.

They confirmed what I already knew - that he stopped meeting people at the depot - Sunil, the owner added that Ruskin was invited to an invite at #TheSavoy, a hotel in #LibraryBazaar. And maybe if I had luck, I might see #MrBond. But, did I have luck?

Mr Gusain, the guesthouse owner knew why I was here on a solo trip to the hills. He wanted to help me make my dream come true and offered to take me to Mussoorie. I was grateful and we left the guest house, making our way through the hills and the forest to Mussoorie.

Our first stop was at The Savoy. I spoke to the hotel staff asking them if Mr Bond was there. They said no. It didn't look like he would make it to the hotel. Heartbroken, but hopeful we decided to go to his home in #Landour.

We reached the stop from where we had a mountain to climb, quite literally. Panting, I reached the road that lead to his home. I was awestruck. I was finally there a place I'd dreamt of for 21 years. I was overwhelmed with emotions. The 15-year-old Jincy finally made it.

I hope she felt proud of how far along she had come. I didn't go to his home right away. But just stood there. Finally, after I reached this doorstep, I couldn't believe what my eyes were seeing - Ruskin Bond - read the nameplate. This was real and finally happening.

I sat on the red staircase that led to his home and wrote him a letter. Now I had to find a way to give it to Ruskin. But how? They had a #DoNotDisturb sign outside their home and rarely did they open their door to strangers like me, no matter how far they had travelled.

Even if the journey took 21 years. It was so filmy. There was some gap between the floor and his door. I used that gap to sneak in a letter and the book, #ChangeMakers, the #wildflowers I had plucked on the way and #ButterflyPea seeds, the white and the blue variety.

The chocolates I brought for him were too big to pass through, so I kept them in a loft on the adjoining wall. There was a Diwali lamp kept there. I moved the lamp (Diya) a bit and hid the chocolates there.

After that, I just kept sitting on the staircase that leads to his home for quite a while. I think they realised someone was there, so they switched on the passage light but no one came out. Finally just as I was to leave, a small girl came who was going to his home.

When she rang the bell, the door opened. I told the lady who opened the door that the book on the floor, the flowers, the seeds & the letter are for Ruskin. I took the chocolates from that loft & handed them to her saying it is for Ruskin. She took it and closed the door.

Before she closed the door, she said that #Ruskin was in Dehradun for a doctor's visit. Wanting to have #memorabilia of my visit to his home, I stole the price tag from the artificial garlands that were at the door of Ruskin Bond's home.

And I said to myself, I may not have met Ruskin Bond. But he certainly has. That was my first visit to his place. I went again after a day. During my stay and travel around Mussoorie, I made friends with the policemen and told them my story.

They bought me drinks (tea) They promised to take me to his home and even offered to put me up in a hotel near his home. I said no politely, as much as I wanted to meet Mr Bond, I also wanted to respect his wishes.

I didn't want to misuse the power of a policeman's uniform to help me make my dream come true. So yeah, I was in #Uttarakhand trying to make my dream come true & in that journey, I saw the Himalayas, I saw the beauty in simplicity, & the warmth of people even in the cold.

I saw a different me. From someone who was so petrified of leaving home, to someone who has travelled and trekked to places all on her own. She made it, one step at a time, through the forest, the valleys and the rivulets.

Plucking wildflowers, smelling the leaves and playing with strays. The mighty mountains and the forests taught me to be humble, and kind, and to never underestimate myself and the power of my dreams.

It also made me anxiously surrender to the higher power, the one above when #rains and #hailstorms hit my jeep. It taught me to trust in people and conversations and not #GoogleMaps or #PowerBanks.

Stories I told, stories they knew, came alive with every conversation I drew. My phone ran out of charge more often than not, but that didn't worry me much, for I had so many shops I could walk in, and talk to them while my phone charged.

I also asked them the meaning of their names or why every person had a similar last name. I posted a letter to someone special from the #PostOffice at Landour, I now hope in anticipation wondering how long would it take for the #SnailMail to make.

I asked random #strangers and #schoolchildren I saw on my walks to take my pics. They graciously agreed. Some even offered me lifts when they saw me walking alone, especially as I was walking through the #forests. I said no.

Though at one time I was really tempted to ask for a lift from a handsome guy who was on his bike. Lol! And that was a little glimpse of my week's trip to Uttarakhand. My attempt at keeping the 15-year-old Jincy's dream alive.

I can now die in peace, happy that even though the world gave up on her dream, I didn't give up on this one. #HappyChildrensDay, everyone. Never let the child in you die. Never! Do not let your dream die either. If you won't believe in them, who will?

This journey wasn't easy, but it was definitely worth it. Also, like I always say, if I can, anyone can! Finally on my way back, made another friend at Dehradun airport. We connected pretty well and even travelled home together.

I think I will have a few interesting journeys with this new friend I made. Anyone reading this, especially women if you need some motivation for your solo trip or just anything in life, pls dont hesitate to reach out. I'll do my best to help.

I went on this trip looking for something, but I found something else.

Some flowers I plucked on my trail. :)

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