Rachel is quite happy with the name she has given to herself ‘Hippie in Heels’, an American who presumably loves India right now because we are great you know! (Let’s keep up the spirit of good Indians, shall we?) A cool mix of a hippie and girlie girl, she talks about her experiences in India. Her answers alone tell us how justified her virtual name is! Catch her at ‘Hippie in Heels‘.
- You are currently living in Goa, what makes you think that it is a good decision to stay there rather than any other part in India?
To be totally honest, I don’t know how many other areas of India I can handle long-term! I get a little bit of anxiety when I’m in Delhi and Bombay for longer than a week at a time and find myself needing some space which is what Goa gives me. The other thing is the food! Goa has so many foreigners living here that each day of the week I can eat a different type of food. Japanese at Sakana, Greek at Thalassa, and SE Asian at Wok n Roll are some of my favorites, but you can find anything here.
- How have you been managing your expenses for all the travel that you do? Don’t you ever feel like you should save some for future?
Is this secretly my mom and dad asking the questions? I hear this a lot and yes, I do think I should be saving! Although, I spent what I made while living in the states and didn’t save so not much has changed. I make money from my website, but couldn’t live on that alone. I have been a Thai yoga masseuse for two years and also run a candle business. I make luxury candles with amazing scents like apple & cinnamon or citronella & orange. I saved a lot before I came to India and knew I’d have to find a new job over here once I left nursing so I worked hard to do that.
- You have had experiences of being harassed while travelling in India, how do you build-up your confidence enough to dare to travel alone again?
It’s all about luck. You could go months in India with no harassment, or you could get 3 incidents in one day. I can’t worry too much about it because it’s something I know people in India want to change, something that women here are passionate about changing, and I know that just hopping off a plane from America saying it’s wrong isn’t going to change anything. It takes time. I know how to handle myself when I’m being harassed and find that just being strong, telling the person to back off (I even say “don’t touch me” in Hindi) will make them jump back. Then I shake it off like it never happened. Not to say that works every time; there are times I have cried- an incident from a crazy gangster in Goa that I won’t go into detail on. No point in dwelling!
- Your approach to the Indian men is something like ‘for every bad Indian there is a good one too’, what experience made you stay on this positive side?
I have a lot of Indian friends both male and female and because I know how good Indian people can be, I just remind myself that the harassment is from the minority. Our neighbor, Ryance, has been friends with my boyfriend for years. Since I’ve lived in Goa, he has always been around to help with anything and is very innocent and sweet. I tell Ben he’s one of the nicest people I’ve met ever, not just in India. People like him are what make me like India.
- You have covered up pretty much all of India but not really the North Eastern part, why?
It’s unintentional. I want to go to that area more than I want to go to any other country even. Sikkim, Darjeeling, Assam, Nagaland, and Calcutta interest me so much. Every time I get a chance to travel it seems those areas are in monsoon or too cold. I like to travel by train and it’s quite a long train ride, although I’ve thought a lot lately about taking a train to Calcutta and spending a month in the NE. When I fly, I like to stay places longer to make the flight worth it.
- Doesn’t all the travelling make you feel home sick?
I do get homesick sometimes. I only went home for one month since I’ve lived here. Luckily, my parents are coming to visit me for Christmas and I’m already looking forward to it so much. Next year, I plan to go home for longer.
To help with the homesickness, I always bring American snacks to eat when I’m feeling “over” India or I watch some trashy American TV shows. It’s great to have Skype calls with friends back home and feel like maybe I’m just a state away, not half the world away.
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Sumedha is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in
Mass Communication. Since she was bitten by a travel bug in her childhood, she loves to travel and explore new corners along with experimenting with food.
Her interests include writing her heart out and believes in staying true to her work.