Tuesday, April 03, 2012

All Alone

I’m sitting in a hotel room in Patna as I type this, with a television sitcom providing an incongruous background sound. My room is comfortable enough but old; the furnishings and upholstery are heavy and faded, giving this room a dated feel. I know by now that this is how most mid-range hotel rooms in the smaller cities are and with my curtains closed, I could be anywhere – Bhopal, Srinagar, Bhubaneswar, Patna.
Usually, I love being where I am right now. In an unknown city, in an anonymous hotel room, all by myself. It’s the only time when I really get ‘me’ time. When I’m home, even if I am home alone, I rarely get ‘me’ time – I’m talking on the phone, I’m chatting on the internet, I’m reading blogs and commenting on them, I’m faffing on Facebook, I’m sending and receiving emails - basically living a busy social life, even if much of it is virtual. But in these old-fashioned hotel rooms, internet is at a premium and I don’t use a data card, so I finally get ‘me’ time; I watch more TV in a day than I would in a whole month at home, I read, I sleep.
But this time around, I’m not enjoying the alone time. I’ve been travelling almost continuously the last two weeks – Tirupati, Vizag, Delhi, Agra – and throughout these weeks I have been spending a lot of time with family and friends, so maybe I’m just disoriented to find myself alone all of a sudden, after hanging out with not less than six people on any given day in the last two weeks. Or maybe I’m just tired and disoriented from all the travel and movement, and it’s finally gotten to me and I’m beginning to feel low. Or maybe there’s nothing fun to watch on television – and as uninteresting as that sounds, that’s most probably the reason.
This is my first visit to Bihar. Since I am travelling alone here, I’ve been advised by all and sundry to be careful. And all these ‘be careful’ suggestions have led to a slight sense of discomfort about being here by myself, especially because I will be paying a visit to some rural villages as part of this trip. And as much as I try to shake off that discomfort, it doesn’t completely go away.
But the people here have so far been incredibly friendly and helpful. Whether it is my driver, or senior government officials, or local NGO workers. And Patna was a surprise to me – it’s a fairly clean city with good roads (atleast the parts I have been to). Tomorrow though, I will get a taste of rural Bihar. Which reminds me that I need to go to sleep now – I have a long day tomorrow, and I need to get an early start.
That's all for now!