‘My father died 4 year back, my mother followed him a year later. It was a bad time, I lost my job soon after and my relatives all of a sudden forcing me to marry someone of their choice I didn’t even know who he was.’
Walking around shops of Hampi I came across this restaurant that was playing songs of Kishore Kumar and Md. Rafi unlike most of the other eateries that played classic English songs or the ones in Hebrew. While having a large glass of Hot Chocolate I came to know that this place was owned by a Punjabi lady in her late 20s and was in this business for about a year now.
Her story, although tragic was still inspirational. How she managed to set herself free from the social norms after her parents passed away and then she lost her job. Her shop is filled with pictures of her trips across Punjab, Himachal and beyond.
‘Last year I was traveling in Hampi with my boyfriend who I met in Pushkar, he is from Germany and has spent a lot of time wandering in this country. I met Sushil, the owner of this restaurant who was facing a huge problem of having no one to assist him running this shop so I decided to help him till my stay and then I stayed here forever because I realized what I wanted from life.’ She tells her story.
‘We don’t stay here all year, after season starts in Goa we shift to Arambol till Feb and then return to this place. After all this time I realized that I wanted to travel and cook. When I see people sipping the cup of coffee I prepared for them or having lunch here with a feel of satisfaction that whatever they are paying is worth it, it gives me a sense of satisfaction.’
I wondered how rigid and tough things are for a woman in travel business, she replies ‘Things are kind of tough especially when you see that most of the work here is done by men but my partner Sushil takes care of it.’ She carefully chooses the word partner because she is now in this industry where thing can be taken in a wrong way and one wont even realize.’ She continues, ‘but that is not the problem, occasionally I get a mail from my relatives as if they are so much concerned about me living a nomadic life. Things like these are not recommended for an average Indian girl.’
‘So how long you are going to stay here?’ I asked her.
‘Until some other place calls me, I always wanted to settle in the mountains. Lets see when I get to visit them again.’
I ask her if I can take a pic of her, she politely refuses with a smile. She makes another coffee for me and asks me to meet her next time I am here or in Arambol.