Travails of a solo female traveller and her hitchhiking memories

Parvathy Manjappan

For a woman traveller, it is practically unthinkable to travel solo without a definite plan of action or money. Not only is it a dangerous proposition, but it is also quite foolish in a country like India. But Parvathy who has completed 7 days of her hitchhiking ride seems to have an entirely different experience altogether. She has only met warm, helpful individuals during her journey and not bumped into any predators.

To see the world and people

23-year-old Parvathy Manjappan who hails from Changanassery started her hitchhiking ride from Kasaragod on February 22nd. Wikipedia describes Hitchhiking (also known as thumbing or hitching) as a means of transportation that is gained by asking individuals, usually strangers, for a ride in their car or other vehicles. The ride is usually, but not always, free. Her aim was not merely to get a whirlwind tour of Kerala but also to understand its people and places. She is an RJ at Changanassery's community radio. She had not decided regarding the duration of the journey, just that the trip will end at Thiruvanthapuram Azhimala. 

Most of the time, the people who gave her lift also provided her food and shelter. She mainly asked for some space to pitch her tent. But every person she met treated her like family.

Along the hills

At Kannur Palakkayam, she spent a night inside a tent. Since it was rather cold, she took the opportunity to rest for two whole days. Parvathy admits that she enjoyed her time at the hills - “Night vibes were fantastic. And I stayed till 3 am to witness the night sky.” And these two days, her friend Manu Savio send her food. 

Intriguing people

Since it was Covid time, she was careful to maintain safety protocols at the houses she lived in. But every time they flooded her with their warmth. It was through Riju, a bank employee she met during her trip to Kannur that she was able to spend a day at Kannur Mavila’s Adarsh’s home. Adarsh’s father was a Theyyam artiste. His mom, Bindu would give me head oil massages. And when I expressed an interest to watch Theyyam, they took me to places that held Theyyam performances. I watched Theyyam the whole night and only left their place the next day. 

Friends like family 

A group of wanderlust-addicted friends turned out to her safety guards in this journey. Before taking any ride, she would take a snap of their vehicles and registration numbers and Whassup them and regularly vlogs her journey on Instagram and Facebook. After covering Kasaragod and Kannur, she will be turning her attention to Wayanad. 

The response of the family  

Though her parents were anxious no one really discouraged her. When she told her mom that she had no money, she quickly handed her 230 bucks. Though she knew that it was not enough, Parvathy took it as a token of her mom’s blessings. She is getting a lot of appreciatory messages from colleagues and that has made her extremely happy. Parvathy likes to think her journey will be an eyeopener/encouragement for many girls to make that solo trip they always wanted to make but were afraid to do so.