On My Way To La Serenissima!!

This is coming to you from Chennai airport where I await the boarding call for my first ever solo trip.

The ‘solo’ bit seems to have thrown a few people off kilter, including the Italian consulate, that demanded a letter fromΒ my husband stating he had no objection to my traveling alone!!! While he couldn’t wipe the grin off his face, I came close to telling them to chuck their visas in less polite lingo. My urge to wander proved stronger than my injured pride though. I was convinced the visa processing officer must have been an MCP Indian male, until my sister – who travels solo quite often – informedΒ me that it was pretty common practice with most countries she had applied to! In this day and age???

The five days since our return from Kabini passed in such a blur, I just couldn’t find time to sort out and process my photos for the Bhuta Kola story as promised. Sincere apologies. Shall do it first thing after my return on the 6th. Until then, here is a teaser:


Have a great week ahead……….I know I will πŸ™‚

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

115 thoughts on “On My Way To La Serenissima!!

  1. I can’t believe that question. As if husbands are still the owners of their wives. I thought the emancipation had done away with all those questions.

  2. I am shocked that anyone would ask you for a letter of permission from your husband to travel alone. Sincere shock. Well, another lesson learned and it looks like you are on to an AMAZING experience. I will be waiting, not very patiently, to hear more about this! Enjoy πŸ™‚

    1. I was equally shocked Lindsay!! Had no idea that was the standard norm for Indian women traveling alone, since Japan didn’t require one. That was possibly because I was going there on an escorted group tour. I had an amazing time nevertheless πŸ™‚

  3. Wow! I can’t believe that happened, either. My husband would be lording that over me for the rest of my life. Which would probably lead me to quickly become a widow. πŸ˜‰

  4. I have traveled to Italy solo several times. It’s a good country for your first solo. But even Italian women agree it is a very male dominated culture. I am surprised they asked about your husband. I wonder what they ask single women, for their father’s approval. πŸ™‚

    1. I wondered too!!! A widowed friend was requested to submit a similar letter when she traveled to Spain a while back. She says she was waiting to give them a mouthful if they had asked for a letter from her dad, when she informed them she had no husband. But they never did apparently! πŸ™‚

  5. Oh, bon voyage, Madhu! Wonderful magical travels on this extraordinary first solo adventure. (And ye gads about the consulate/husband thing!)

    Sweet of you to give us the update and the incredible “teaser.”

    Looking forward to hearing and seeing more. πŸ™‚

    1. Ye gads indeed!! Still smarting from that ‘insult’. And can you believe they only granted me a visa for ten days???

  6. The Italian consulat demanded a confirmation, that your husband does not object your travelling alone??? This makes me speechless. I have been travelling alone to many countries and nobody ever asked me such a question. We are living in the 21st century and Italy should behave civilised, also the Indian man working for them.. “Common praxis” ???!!! I am shocked! I wish you many people who welcome you.Happy travels -Ulrike. Whenever you come to Hamburg, Germany, be my guest!

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment Ulrike! This might be exclusive to Indian women, or at least to women from the subcontinent. And Italy might not be alone….I know for a fact that Spain demanded a similar letter from a friend, as did one of the Scandinavian countries my sister visited last year!! Might not be surprised if Germany asks for one too! Unless you send me a letter of invitation πŸ˜€ That would be kind of you, but still galling that I need one.

      1. My dear, I realize that I am very priviledged to live here in Germany. If you ever come to Germany, I’ll be happy to invite you.

    1. Can you imagine??? I only learnt that was common practice when I expressed my shock to my friends and family!

  7. Phew, that was asking a flea in their ears! If a husband has an objection to his wife travelling alone, tough on him! And whether or not such objection exists is no business of the consulate.

    1. Absolutely! And to add insult to injury, they grant me a visa for ten days, so I couldn’t extend my stay even if I wanted to!!! Thanks for the support Colnialist πŸ™‚

  8. yes, have a wonderful week Madhu, bring back your photo essay to share with us all! “Venice will linger in your mindΒ† and wherever you go in life you will feel somewhere over your shoulder, a pink, castellated, shimmering presence, the domes and riggings and crooked pinnacles of the Serenissima. There’s romance for you!”

  9. πŸ™‚ Wish I knew whether you meant teaer (teatime) teaser (yes you are a) or tearer (makes me cry thinking men can still treat women that way, ‘in this day and age’.) Always a pleasure to see your work, Madhu.

    1. Yikes!! Apologies for the many ‘typos’ in the post. I cannot believe I published this with a misspelled title!!! I blame it all on my Ipad πŸ˜‰ Always a pleasure to see you here as well Witt πŸ™‚

      1. Dear Witt, comments are closed on your blog, but I just had to tell you how much I loved your posts and your breathtaking photographs. It is a privilege to see the beauty of this earth through your eyes!.

        1. Dearest Madhu (honestly, I know no other)

          As always, you are most kind; no wonder you have such a large and faithful following. This is an exceptional site, illustrated generously with pictures that would make any photographer appreciative of your talents, and full of lively comments from people around the globe. Seriously, your photos of Venice are dreamlike – wouldn’t it be nice if all out cities looked like that.

          Yes, as you say, I bogged down with posting and took some time off. But since I listen to your advice, I will get back to work here when I finish outdoors. Please continue to charm us with your creations. When I finally must leave your site, I always feel like I have taken a journey abroad.

          PS. Your customized theme looks terrific.

  10. I can’t believe the Italian consulate! 😦 What year is this? 1814?
    Anyway enjoy your “solo” trip. πŸ™‚
    Question: the photo you posted is a kathakali dancer?
    Bon voyage

    1. I know….very annoying! No the image is not of a Kathakali dancer. This is a spirit dance and a primitive form of worship in the area bordering Kerala. Shall post about it soon. Thanks Brian.

      1. Thanks to you Madhu. Enjoy your trip and have a lovely week. Month. Year! and so forth!

  11. That was quite a request from the consulate. My daughters fly all over the world and even my wife sometimes take a break from me. No one ever asked them to get their daddy’s or husband’s permission. I wonder whether it’s because they always carry a Kalashnikov πŸ™‚

    Enjoy your trip, Madhu

    1. Could it be because they are citizens of Singapore perhaps and are perceived as having no desire to ‘settle’ in these countries? Can’t think of any other reason. But four passports full of visas should amount to something….have no doubt the terrorists and illegals slip through while they are scrutinising our legitimate papers πŸ™‚ Thanks Eric.

  12. omg … enjoy the complete freedom that comes with traveling alone!!! i travel alone quite a bit … I love the feeling of being unrestrained. it’s also a great way to get some thinking and some deep introspection done.
    … not to mention the photography!!! (that’s actually the best part … again, unrestrained)

  13. They ask for husband’s permission because they know the wives are leaving with all the financial passwords and knowledge as to where all the household accounts are listed and stored! πŸ™‚ It is an amazing echo to years’ past, isn’t it?! Can’t wait for future posts on the solo trip!

  14. I happens to husbands too at times. lol. I remember being refused a US student visa back in 1970 because I was an Australian living in India married to a Hungarian so they had no guarantee that I wouldn’t stay there. I was really POD over that as it was with financial guarantees too. So when my headquarters wanted me to go to the US in 1980 I refused as my pride was hurt too so they had to do serious arm twisting and get me a guarantee from the US embassy in advance before I would agree to go. But I’ve made many trips there since and found the people there to be more friendly than my first impressions back in 1970.

    1. I suppose they are entitled to their suspicions, but I still don’t see why they can’t look at precedents before granting visas, instead of following standard procedure!

  15. lucky u Madhu! Have a superb trip…Looking forward to seeing ur photoessay…
    I wish to go on a solo trip too… Hopefully it happens soon.

    1. You should. I think everyone should…..at least once in their lifetimes. I hope it happens soon too πŸ™‚

  16. Nobody never asked me for that in my whole life!
    But I remember my second travel to the States…A big pΓ³lice stopped me on the border, checked my passaport and asked me how much money I had with me…I said: “Money?Nothing, I am travelling with my Visa and my husband, that man over there..” He opened and closed his mouth and let me pass…:) πŸ™‚
    Have a wonderful time! Venice is wonderful!!!

    1. You didn’t!!! Served him right! πŸ˜€ We need to show enough bank balances before the US will even consider giving us visas!
      Venice was indeed wonderful Ilargia.

  17. We still have work to do for equality… it’s amazing in 2014! I love traveling alone and have done so all over the world. It is the height of independence and freedom and self-reliance. Follow your intuition, be alert, and have FUN! You’ll meet so many more people than if you were with someone else. It’s an amazing opportunity to really get to know a culture.

    1. Oh yes we do. And these incidents drive the point home hard. Traveling alone was indeed a fantastic experience. Thank you for stopping by to share your thoughts.

  18. Oh that made me laugh so much! Do countries really ask that? I’m pretty certain my wife has never been asked to provide ‘permission’ from me when applying for solo visas! maybe it IS just an Indian thing?… O.O

    1. It is, and all the more discriminatory then Ken. One of my readers (below) had to submit a similar letter for a Malaysian Visa!!!

  19. Ooh tell me about the ‘letter from husband’ bit. I was so put off when I had to give one on my trip to Malaysia.

    1. Ha, ha…..perhaps I should pepper my posts with the word to ensure you read them πŸ™‚ Thanks Preethi. Back home now. Shall be catching up with you all soon….I hope πŸ™‚

  20. Madhu, you fueled my curiosity with that teaser……..In the mean time you have great time and come back with more interesting stories…………we are waiting here.

  21. I can’t even imagine, what audacity. I have traveled the world alone for thirty years. I cannot wait for your travelogue. Well I suppose I must. Safe and fun travels.

  22. Duh! Can’t believe that in this day and age, they should ask your husband if it’s okay for you to travel alone. 😦 Have a wonderful trip, Madhu. Amazing pic!

      1. It could be that they are only concerned about the few of us that don’t usually travel alone!! πŸ™‚

  23. Good on you … travelling alone – but I don’t understand what your husband have to do it???? So if you hadn’t been married – would they need a letter from your parents??? I know you will have a fantastic trip and I can’t wait to see all your captured moments. Delight yourself like the Italians do!!! Stay safe.
    I have done most of my travelling alone and when travelling alone you get the chance to meet so many interesting people, that you don’t do when travelling in company. I love travelling alone – to do things when I want to do them.

    1. You are such an independent soul Viveka and I admire your strength and spirit. My trip was every bit as enjoyable as i expected. Thank you for your good wishes πŸ™‚

      1. Yes Madhu, from Kerala. I have never seen a live Theyyam performance but William Dalrymple’s description of it in “Nine Lives” is etched in my mind. I’d definitely go to Kerala later this year when the theyyam season begins.

        1. I grew up watching it but never documented it. returned after many years but did not stay up all night for the better parts 😦 Your photos will be worth waiting for.

    1. I was told the letter was mandatory for many other European countries, so I didn’t have much of an option. I am going to copy a link to this post when I apply for a solo visa next πŸ™‚

  24. How frustrating! I’ve done a stupid amount of traveling solo and not once been asked to produce a ‘no objection certificate’ from my husband. However there is that double standard of being a ‘white’ Canadian hence not subject to the regular norms for women travellers from India. Sigh…

    1. Reeks of double standards doesn’t it? I intend attaching a link to this post on my next application. Hope it doesn’t backfire πŸ™‚

    1. Yes! And Western double standards naturally reserved for third world countries, or their women would, like you say, go ballistic πŸ˜€

  25. yes !!……..I was shocked when I was asked for a NOC from my husband when applying for Singapore visa. But I quickly found out, it is a standard practice for a lot of visas !! My husband always teases me by saying I will not give you a NOC if you don’t get me so and so things from your trips :)…..why doesn’t the man need NOC from his wife, I wonder ??

    1. Really! And i don’t understand the point, when widows and single women are exempt! Wonder if these bureaucrats think things through :/

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