My name is Carmel and I am 74 years of age. I recently spent a month on holiday alone in Cochia, India which according to the natives is Gods Own Country.
My reason for going there was to have some dental treatment done. I had this carried out in my first week there by a very good doctor. The procedure was most successful and following it, I spent three weeks by the seaside in Fort Cochia having a well earned holiday.
I travelled alone, as I always do, as it can be difficult to get anyone to accompany me on the strange holidays that I pick and I do not have a partner. I am a seasoned traveller but this holiday, I must say, wasn’t for the fainthearted.
Cochia, which is in the south of India, is a very big city with a population of twenty million people. It has the maddest drivers that I ever encountered, no pedestrian crossings and no traffic lights except at a few major crossings so it was very difficult to cross the road.
Bus drivers, Tuc Tuc drivers (a three-wheeled small car) and motor cyclists all challenge each other for space on the road while travelling at high speed. They bully their way forward, skirting each other within inches and continuously beeping their horns.
Most buses are damaged from this behaviour but are kept on the road by battering the faulted metal together.
Heart stopped a beat
Cochia has no footpaths and this is not good for people, like me, who have difficulty walking. I solved this problem, however, by hiring at all times a Tuc Tuc to get from A to B. A short journey in a Tuc Tuc would cost about 30 cent.
In the beginning I attempted to cross a road by myself but my heart stopped a beat in trying to do so. After a few days in the city, I accepted all this madness as normal and then began to think like the Indians themselves. I understand that one person is killed on the roads every four minutes in India!
After a week in the city, I travelled some 13 kilometres to a seaside area called Fort Cochia and this was magic. Whilst the temperatures were in the region of 35 degrees, you wouldn’t notice it if you stayed under a shade.
I befriended a Tuc Tuc driver who called to my hotel each morning, took me anywhere I wanted to go and collected me later that evening. He knew all the good restaurants to eat in and places to visit and was well worth the 5 – 7 euro I paid him each day.
A really good lunch in a good restaurant would cost about 7 euro a day but in a local one it could cost as little as 4 euro.
Age Action computer classes
Before I left Dublin, I attended two Getting Started Computer Classes with Age Action in my local community centre.
The purpose of doing these classes was to make sure that I was able to bring my new iPad with me on holidays so that I would be able keep in touch with friends and family, keep myself informed of local activities and have access to information on the go.
My one-to-one tutor, Brian, was so helpful and patient with me and while I did need two classes to build up my confidence using my iPad, after Brian's tuition and encouragement, using my iPad has become part of my daily routine.
The world it has opened up to me is just amazing. Having access to emails and keeping in touch with the outside world when I was travelling, having access to local information on where was the best place to eat and what places to visit was just a godsend.
Brian also helped me look up information before I left on how I could access a mobile phone when I was away. When I arrived, I got myself a mobile phone with an Indian SIM card which allowed me to make international calls at a very cheap rate.
For the four weeks that I spent in India, calls just cost me 35 euro. For that I made at least three phone calls to Ireland each day. So my life in India was no different than if I was in Dublin. I had contact with the same number of people there as I would have back home.
Opened up the world
Having the confidence now to use technology has really opened up the world for me in more ways that I can have imagined.
When you are alone either on a beach or in a restaurant and you give your neighbour a friendly smile, they will in most cases be delighted to talk to you and tell you about their trip and family at home. No day passed that I hadn’t spoken to about three different people.
The only problem about travelling alone is you have no one to share the cost. For my next trip, I must remember to bring my bank manager with me!!! Most people in the hotels can speak English and are very helpful.
The food however wasn’t to my liking as I do not eat spicy food and that is what Indians eat. Fortunately I like fish and eggs so I survived but I had great difficulty in getting the restaurants to boil an egg to my liking, which is a soft one.
It took a week before I discovered that instead of asking for a soft boiled egg, I should have been asking for a half boiled egg. They never heard of egg cups so if you like eggs, bring your own egg cup!
The only downside to the holiday was the mosquitoes and I did battle with them every day. Luckily enough I have no permanent scars as I found a cure for them early in the holiday.
For this kind and length of holiday, all you need is a bit of self-confidence and a tongue in your head. The holiday was one of the greatest experiences of my life and after it I am feeling ten years younger.
Indians have a saying, "To travel is to live", so as long as I am able, I intend to do that and I will be making sure that the first thing I pack is my iPad!