The sun is setting and the light of the soft Indian sun is reflecting off the water to highlight her majestic features. I have only just locked eyes with her and I decide ask “excuse me, when the Indian people show their love to foreigners they’ve never met before is it really from their hearts or not?”
She is slightly taken back by the directness of the question, no generic hello what’s your name, where are you from niceties.
She then takes a different pose and starts to explain that much of the way locals treat tourists is indeed a show and it depends on various things such as the colour of skin and if you are a man or a woman. I feel confused, this can’t be the truth…all of my interactions with other locals including her personally feel so real and honest.
As she continues to explain I can’t help but feel a subconscious change in the local Indian workers on the boat, it’s as if her words are not to be spoken in public, especially to foreigners. Step out of line here and you get crushed with eyes of disapproval. So much for free speech. I see a policeman standing on the other side of the river taking suspicious photos of our boat. My mind jumps forward and the feeling that there is a profound depth to life, everywhere around me I am unable to see floods my consciousness. I am honoured that Rashie, dares to express the depths of her soul on the boat, even if it means loosing face for a moment in time. It feels like a glimpse at a side of Indian life that isn’t put in travel magazines too often. As I question further my heart is ignited with passion, a powerful wave of love comes crashing over me. She’s being so honest and real with me, we are connected as one and it’s only been a few minutes!
We get off the boat and I ask if she’d like to come to a cafe I know of close by to continue conversation, she thinks about it for a moment and agrees. We go to the Laughing Buddha, have a chai and remain locked in a trance like state of conversational love for over an hour. We deeply listen to each others stories and perspectives, everything is so pure and real. She’s been travelling across the south of India for the past 3 months solo. I hadn’t met or seen any other Indian female solo travellers yet so there is obviously something strong within this woman, something with a desire to overcome the social restraints. With each perspective she shares I am further drawn into her magic.
The night stars begin to fall and we need to get to our accommodation. We’ve both shared such a raw and honest connection I ask to give her a hug outside of the cafe. She accepts and we share a blissful moment. I leave completely flowing with love. Everything is moving so fast but I need to focus on finding Pete’s place before dark.