Reading accounts of women sharing their liberating solo travel experiences is refreshing. Although I had never considered travelling alone, I was content knowing it was an option should life set it on my path. As long as I was aware of potential discrimination and stuck to destinations that are considered safe for black female solo travellers, I should be fine. However, a recent experience made me realise this is not enough and won’t guarantee my safety as a black woman.
The company I work for had invited me and my Zimbabwean colleague, Chipiwa, to work from its India offices for three months. Our stay started great, and for the most part it was. A few of our Indian colleagues took us on tour around Delhi for three days before we settled in Mohali. Aside from the unusual stares and people taking unsolicited photos of us, we had a good time. My most memorable experience was trying ice paan, probably because it gave me a brain freeze.
Unlike the bustling streets of Delhi, Sector 119 in Mohali was quiet and peaceful with a relatively low population. There were empty plots of land and most of the houses were still under construction. The architecture denoted opulence and privilege. We stayed at a three-bedroomed house with an Indian colleague who was not keen on the implied babysitting task. We did not mind. Our landlord was nice and the place was safe.