For 26-year old Italian traveller Giovanni Allegrini, his maiden trip to India has been a whirlwind of a journey, to say the least. Just a day after the digital nomad arrived in the country, India had gone into lockdown. From being stranded as a foreigner in a new land to being taken in by a local family, we caught up with Allegrini on his lockdown experience and why he is in love with India, despite being stranded here. By Amitha Ameen
1. Where were you when the lockdown was announced?
I was in Guwahati, Assam. I had just reached there the day before the lockdown was announced in March.
2. What brought you to India?
I came to India because to experience its history, cultural heritage, and natural diversity that has always fascinated me; moreover, India was the first country before my trip to South Africa, travelling on land only.
3. How did you get stranded and how is the lockdown treating you?
I got stranded when I reached Guwahati. A retired man called Deepak (who I found through Couchsurfing) picked me up and welcomed me into his home despite Indians being afraid of foreigners ever since the pandemic broke out; although I had arrived in India way before COVID-19 began to spread in the country.
4. How has the experience of staying with the locals been so far?
I loved it! I had stayed in Deepak’s home for three months. It all began as a stranded guest and eventually I became a part of the family. I lived in a beautiful neighbourhood, surrounded by nature and genuine people. We worked in the veggie garden together, looked after the goats too, and I’ve learned so much about Assam, its traditions, and food. I found another family on the other side of the planet! I have immense love for Assam and the North East.
5. What does a typical day in lockdown look like for you now?
6. What are your plans when free travel comes back into the picture?
7. What are the other places in India that you wish to visit?
8. We read somewhere that you worked in New Zealand. Which part of the country did you live in?
9. What has this experience taught you?
10. What things will you keep in mind when you travel in the future?
I’ll keep in mind that travelling will be drastically different. We’ll all need to look after each other and take care of our personal hygiene and health much more than before because personal behaviour can actually damage physically weaker people. I’ll keep in mind that we should never take freedom for granted, neither any other privilege we have in our lives. We’re all lucky for various reasons. I’ll keep in mind that kindness and confidence are amongst the most efficient weapons. And of course, I’ll keep in mind to visit India over and over again!