Often when we hear about blasts in Iraq and Iran on television, and the mere glance gives us goosebumps in fear and a daunting experience. Imagine a female traversing alone to such land. It is undoubtedly beautiful and rich in history and heritage, but the present is a tad crazy in a war. Meet solo traveller Nisreen Mustafa Lokhandwala and know her over-whelming Iraq story.
- Tell us something about yourself and your background
I am double graduate and have completed my studies from Pune University and has been serving Al Jamea tus SAaifiyah since last 18 years. Currently I am an IELTS trainer and a visa consultant. Travelling is my passion and I love to explore different places as it teaches the lessons of life!
How many countries and Indian states have you travelled?
I have travelled M.P, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Maharashtra and Gujarat. I have been to Egypt, Africa, Dar Es Salaam, Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Damam, Jubail, Mecca and Madina.
Any interesting travel moment or incidence
I had visited Karbala (Iraq) in 2006. As everyone is aware that bomb blasts are a common feature in Iraq. But Indians are not tamed for bomb blasts! I was exploring the market of Iraq as it is famous for ceramic paintings and having a look at different ceramic wares. A lady passed by in a hurry, giving a jolt to my body, I literally fell off! Being a foreigner, I did not argue with her, but instead said sorry and let her go ahead. We both were walking together, oblivious of the fact that she is a suicide bombardier. I entered the Holy shrine of Imam Hussain (AS) and she along with the group was behind me. After a few minutes I heard a tremendous noise and witnessed a bomb blast in front of me! I was taken aback and speechless. The blast was just a few feet away and everyone around were taken right inside the holy shrine. I was inside for about 5 to 6 hours. I was guided back to my accommodation along with the security officer at night around 11.30 pm and bomb blast occurred at about 06.30 pm. It was an over-whelming experience and fear ran down my spine.
Tell us about your fears and anxieties when traversing solo. How you keep them at bay?
I always have the anxiety of finding a right partner whist travelling solo. What if I do not find a good partner during the visit at different places? What if men get me wrong and take undue advantage of a single woman? This fear always haunts me while travelling. But of course, my friendly approach, helping nature, love for photography, ever readiness for adventures has helped to overcome my anxiety.
What’s the strangest thing you tried on your travelling days?
I am a hydrophobic and to overcome this fear I did 9 kms river rafting in Sindh river in ice cold water and high waves along with anonymous people which took about 45 minutes!
Any travel tips for the readers?
One should be really passionate and full of energy and positivity and be able to enjoy finer moments of life, carry basic things like medicines, torch, charger, good pair of shoes, water bottle and find a nice companion of your calibre.
Where are you off to next?
I am planning for Kerala in March but definitely short trips of 2 days are always on the list.