The night before the big day was the scariest.
I hate packing. So, I left that to be done on that night. The nerves were kicking in and the fear was real.
Wanting something all your life feels so much different from having it.
When my first solo trip got confirmed, I couldn’t stop raving about it to everybody!
I Imagined everything from outfits for each day of the trip to meeting cute strangers on my flight.
But on the night before my flight, the nerves kicked in hard enough for me to question my decision.
Was I ready to take this trip all by myself?
I am not particularly the kind of person who scares easy.
Or so I told myself until this trip.
I woke up early on the big day. The house was empty because mamma-baba were out vacationing with their friends. I did my daily chores, cleaned the house, packed everything, and made a quick trip to the store to get everything else. Done.
I still had four hours till I left for the airport and the thoughts in my head were not being my friend.
I am used to mamma re-packing my bags for every trip I take. She knows exactly what I forgot to pack. So, I pack, she re-packs.
She wasn’t home this time.
I am also used to baba dropping me to the airport every time. No matter how busy he is, he always clears his schedule. Taking a cab to the airport while leaving for a vacation was just depressing.
Vrishank says I am spoilt. I disagree. As always.
I decided to get ready and leave for the airport earlier than I needed to. I was alone and scared at home. I’d rather be alone and scared at the airport.
I always thought I needed company. Every time I had to go to the mall, my first thought was listing the possible people I could quickly call to come hang out with me. Even a trip to the store to buy milk and eggs comprised of nervous-calling everybody I knew so I had someone to talk to till I got home. Every once in a while, I would tell myself to spend some me-time. Which was poor translation for Netflix and Stuff-your-face-till-you-get-sick. I always believed I was the sort of person who needs people around all the time. I wasn’t quite sure I would enjoy my company. Maybe that is why I dreaded this trip so much so suddenly.
Since I was at the airport way before time, I decided to have a mini-meal before I queue at the check-in counter. Went straight for momos and a strawberry cocktail. The momos were delicious but the drink sucked. I finished it all anyway because I paid way too much for it. Yep. I am Indian in every way like that.
It’s frustrating how I can’t remember the last flight I took from Mumbai which wasn’t delayed. This time the delay was of a whole 90 minutes. I knew this was going to come bite me in the ass and so it did. Quite expectantly I missed my connecting flight to Penang from Kualalampur. I don’t know what I was more upset about. Missing my flight or spending 3 more hours at the airport.
Anyhoo! Took the next flight out and checked into my hotel room in Penang by around 4pm!
I’ve always been a fan of long, quite baths. So, took one and hit the bed right away.
I realized I hadn’t slept in more than 24 hours. Counting my overnight flight and the delay! I got no sleep on the plane. There were 2 screaming kids in a 10-meter radius from my seat.
Woke up at around 9:30 pm, changed and decided to get some dinner. Walked to the hotel’s restaurant only to find it completely empty. Not a soul in sight. According to the waiter, everyone in town wraps dinner before 8pm. Thank god, my hotel had a 24-HR restaurant.
Got myself a table by the pool facing the sea. This hotel was snazzy. It had a private beach. I couldn’t dare to get a table closer to the sea though. I’ve always feared water after sundown. The sea sounds so angry to me at nights.
This was officially my first meal in Penang. So, I decided to order a local delicacy.
‘Mamak Mee’ is what I settled for. Noodles, chicken and fish cakes. What’s not to like!
This was also my first meal with myself. Back home I never really go out to eat by myself.
And I don’t know why!
I stared into my phone for the first couple of minutes because I was so confused as to what the rest of my body is supposed to do when I am sitting at a table alone with food and nobody to talk to or no television to stare at.
The food was GOOD!
I eventually put my phone down and ate in silence.
Hmm. Not so bad.
Finished dinner, cleared my bill, thanked the waiter and walked away.
I didn’t quite feel like heading back to my room just yet. It was too late to walk around town alone. So, I took a stroll around the hotel property. The roaring waves made my walk in the opposite direction from the beach. Walked around for a bit. There was a pool, another restaurant, a parking spot and a condo. Spotted a bench in the condo and sat down for a bit.
Mumbai is always buzzing. No matter what time of day. Cars, honks, people. Also, the weather back home is torturing.
However, it was surprisingly quiet on the streets here. An occasional motor-biker passed by but otherwise, I could still hear the waves. The weather felt great too. Not as humid as I had expected.
I sat on the bench with a blank mind. I had no thoughts. I stared at the street then at the parking lot and then back at the street. An occasional thought about home crossed my mind. But other than that, nothing really. I checked my watch, it said 11:20 pm.
Went back to staring.
Checked my watch again. It said 12:20 pm
Killing time was always a task for me. I would deliberately reach places late because I hated waiting alone.
Not anymore, I guess!
That hour on the bench alone was the best part of my day.
To come to think of it, when was the last time you spent an hour being your selfish self? I have no memory of a time when I decided to think of myself and myself only and do everything that pleased nobody but me. I can’t even count the number of movies I missed or the restaurants I ditched because I didn’t have company.
I remember spending hours after lights-out, sitting on a stool in front of my mirror talking to myself about my day and going to bed happy because I knew my mind and my heart were on the same page. I have no idea why I stopped that exercise. People never believed me, but I never felt the need of having a sibling growing up because I loved myself as a child.
Nostalgically, I walked back to my room happier that night because now I knew I enjoyed my company. And finally, this solo trip seemed like the best decision ever!
Changed back into my PJs, got in bed, surfed the internet for a while and turned the lights off at 4:15 am.
And that was day one.