Even a curio can provide a spark to set out on a journey. Nalini Chandran of Thrissur has such an experience to relate. She saw an item from Bali which made her wish to travel to the Indonesian island. Several relatives were prepared to take Nalini to Bali but she decided to chart another path.
Nalini, instead of depending on her kith and kin, asked her friends whether they were interested in joining her. Everyone immediately agreed and started packing their bags.
It was a sudden and surprising trip for many of them. A travel group of eight members comprising teachers, housewives and bank officials was thus formed. All of them were residents of Thrissur city. Nalini Chandran, Lata Venugopal, Sudha Nair, Nalini Venkatesh, Bhanumati, Krishnaveni, Preetha Venugopal and Jaya Nagarajan were aged between 38 and 84 years. Most of them were above 60.
Every member of the group had travelled abroad earlier. Some even had spent their childhood in foreign countries. Children and grandchildren of many of them were residing in other nations. However, the eight women realized a new fact during the trip to Bali. It was that even after many experiences in life, they still had so much to share by way of love, fun and pain. These emotions they had not shared with anybody else till then. That made the trip to Bali special and gave the women a joy that they had never experienced before.
“In the hotel room, we joined together to sing songs and swayed to the tunes. On the streets, we held the hands of children and wandered around the shopping places picking up items that we fancied. Our trips lasted till late night,” said a member of the group.
“A new world of freedom that was much different from others opened up before us. We were so happy. Independent women, none of our children or relatives have tried to restrict our freedom. Most of us still work. Even then, we realized that there was a freedom that was beyond such advantages we enjoyed,” she added.
When the women's group reached a village of fishermen on the seacoast at Bali, they received a warm welcome. “We were moved by the hospitality of the villagers,” commented a member.
The group planned two more trips but they did not take place owing to various reasons. Later, the women went on a tour to Pune. It was a sudden programme and Preetha and Jaya Nagarajan could not make it.
In Pune, the group spent several hours at the Shirdi Sai Baba Temple. “Kerala should learn a lesson from the street shopping in Pune. Nobody stares at you there. You don’t also have the fear of being harmed. We felt we were safe even among the crowds at night,” said a member.
Taxi drivers and hotel staff behaved properly with the group and gave due respect. “As senior women, we received special consideration. But in Kerala, we have never felt so dignified,” she continued.
The group has already started preparing for its next journey. The destination is Himachal Pradesh. All the eight members will be part of the tour to experience the eternal beauty of the Himalayas. For the women, these trips have become as enjoyable as the celebrations at home.