Friday, March 1, 2024

Embracing Solo Adventures: Shattering Taboos for Female Travelers in Sri Lanka


"Miss, did you come alone? Are you not afraid to travel alone? Don't you have any friends? You must be courageous, right?" These were the questions posed by nine different individuals, each with a unique tone and expression, as I shared my plans for a solo hike just 65km from my home. Last week, I embarked on an impromptu journey to explore the waterfalls inside Makandawa Rainforest, guided only by Google and my adventurous spirit.

The adventure began smoothly; armed with information on bus schedules, I reached my destination without a hitch. However, as I enjoyed my breakfast at Kithulagla Rest House, I couldn't shake the feeling that curious eyes were fixed upon me. The unease persisted when I took a ferry boat (paruwa) to enter the forest, with even the ferryman expressing concern about my solo venture.

Upon purchasing a ticket, the forest ranger echoed the sentiments of others, questioning why I had chosen to come alone. Though I lacked a concrete explanation, internally, I pondered, "Why shouldn't I come alone?" Despite the advice to stick to the nearest waterfall and avoid venturing deep into the forest, I forged ahead.

Inside the forest reserve, a literal and metaphorical breath of fresh air awaited. I first explored Makulu Ella, where I encountered a family from Colombo. While they were friendly, there was an underlying concern for my safety. Assuring them of my seasoned traveler status, I continued on my own, delving deeper into the forest, from the bird-watching hut to the hidden Lenthrii Ella waterfall.

Amidst giant trees and the soothing sound of water, I found solace. Alone, yet completely comfortable, I reveled in the beauty of untouched nature. As the day progressed, and darkness loomed even at 12:30 pm, I decided to hike back. Both the forest ranger and the ferryman greeted me with relief, a sudden pride gleaming in their eyes.

Returning to the bus stop, I enjoyed a cup of plain tea with helapa. The shopkeeper gasped when she learned of my forest adventure. Taking the bus back home, I reflected on my day. Why share this seemingly ordinary adventure in such detail? Because it's not about the grandiosity; it's about normalizing the solo female hike.

In a society where questions about solo female travel are often accompanied by skepticism, it's crucial to showcase that such adventures are not extraordinary feats but rather experiences to be embraced and normalized. As a well-seasoned traveler, I challenge stereotypes and taboos surrounding solo female exploration. Through my journey, I hope to inspire others to venture into the unknown, unapologetically and fearlessly. Solo travel for girls should not be a rarity; it should be celebrated as a testament to strength, independence, and the sheer joy of embracing the world on one's own terms.

        (Pic:Lenthiri Ella, Makandawa Forest reserve, Kithulgala, 2024)

Saturday, January 27, 2024

The Bittersweet Symphony of Lost Love


                                                            (Lost Love; John Everett Millais)

In the grand orchestra of life, love plays the most haunting melody, an ethereal composition that can lift our spirits to unparalleled heights or plunge us into the depths of sorrow. Losing someone precious to your heart is akin to the sudden silence in the midst of a beautiful symphony. It leaves you standing in the midst of a once harmonious ensemble, grappling with the echoes of a melody that has slipped through your fingers.

You, my love, were the jewel of my heart. In your presence, life sparkled with a brilliance that made everything else fade into insignificance. Your laughter was the sweetest melody, your touch a comforting harmony that resonated through the very core of my being. When you were near, the world was adorned with the richness of color, and the future seemed to unfold like a tapestry of endless possibilities.

But life, in its capricious nature, sometimes orchestrates a heart-wrenching crescendo, leaving us shattered and breathless. When that precious love is lost, it feels as if the music has abruptly stopped, leaving us to grapple with the deafening silence that follows. In that silence, the void left by the absence of your presence becomes palpable, and the heartache echoes in every beat.

The heart, that intricate organ, possesses the paradoxical ability to both crave to the fullest and surrender everything in one fell swoop. It is a complex tapestry of emotions, intricately woven with threads of joy, pain, hope, and despair. Losing someone we hold dear is a journey through the labyrinth of emotions, navigating the twists and turns of grief, acceptance, and healing.

In the aftermath of such a loss, the allure of worldly possessions and superficial adornments loses its luster. No amount of jewels can fill the void left by the absence of a cherished love. The heart, once adorned with the brilliance of connection, now stands bare, its vulnerability exposed to the harsh light of reality.

Yet, even in the midst of this poignant symphony, there lies a wisdom born from the crucible of loss. It is an understanding that the ephemerality of love does not diminish its significance. Instead, it imbues it with a timeless quality, a poignant reminder of the beauty that once graced our lives. Through the tears and the ache, we find a resilience that allows us to cherish the memories, knowing that they are etched into the very fabric of our being.

So, as we navigate the aftermath of losing someone precious, let us be tender with our hearts. Let us acknowledge the bittersweet symphony of love and loss, recognizing that the depth of our sorrow is a testament to the depth of our capacity to love. In this journey, may we find solace in the echoes of the melody that once danced in our hearts, and may we emerge stronger, wiser, and with the enduring grace to embrace the ever-changing rhythms of life.

Friday, December 15, 2023

Swan Statue

Many years ago, in a chapter of our lives marked by simplicity and genuine affection, I found myself grappling with the challenge of celebrating your birthday without the means to buy a proper gift. Despite the money problems as a student, my heart was set on expressing my love for you.

One day, while rummaging through my belongings at home, my eyes fell upon a pair of swan statues. They were a beautiful gift that my sister had received from her lover. Knowing I couldn't afford a new present, I decided to steal this swan statue as a heartfelt gift for you.

On the day of your birthday, I carefully packed the swan statues, each piece representing a fragment of my heartfelt sentiments. However, fate had other plans, and upon reaching my class, I discovered that the statues had been broken during the bus journey.  It was ugly, heads fallen apart! The weight of disappointment sank in, leaving me unable to present the gift I had prepared.

Adding to the challenges, I was battling a fever that day. Yet, in your ever-caring manner, you took me to the dispensary to get the necessary medicine. It was a day marked by unforeseen trials and aches, both physical and emotional.

Days later, in a casual conversation, you mentioned that I hadn't even given you a birthday card. The realization hit me like a wave, and the guilt of not meeting your expectations became an unwelcome companion.

Unable to bear the weight of remorse, I discreetly disposed of the broken swan statue in the garbage bin. For years, the memory of that failed birthday gift lingered in my mind, a poignant reminder of my inability to fulfill a simple desire.

In an attempt to mend the unspoken wound, I sent you a cake and flowers for a subsequent birthday. It was a small gesture, but one filled with a sincere desire to make amends and show you that I cared , even when circumstances didn't allow for it.

Yet, today, as I find myself reminiscing about that chapter of our past, the memory resurfaces with a touch of sadness. Life is a collection of imperfect moments, and sometimes, the most sincere intentions lead to unforeseen outcomes. 

Written by Jahoolidevi