Three weeks ago, when UK-based writer Katy Colins was flying home from Australia, Kangana Ranaut’s Queen was among the many movies on the in-flight entertainment list. The Englishwoman, who has heard a lot about Bollywood from her friends, hit the play button out of curiosity. By the end of the movie, though, she remembers laughing to herself. "Oh my gosh! This was my story," the 31-year-old said, in a telephonic interview from the UK. "The similarities were striking. I could relate to the story and the character (Rani played by Ranaut)."
Katy Colins’ second book, Destination India, is loosely based on her travel experiences in this country
In 2012, Colins who was just a few weeks shy of getting married, saw her entire life "turned on its head". "I was going to have the perfect English wedding," she says. "The wedding had been planned and paid for, when a couple of weeks before D-Day, my fiancé came home and broke it off. Here I was, suddenly single, when I had expected to be somebody’s
wife. My head was all over the place, but I wanted to make something good out of this horrible, obsessive situation."
Six months later, Colins handed over her notice at work, sold her car, the home (she and her fiancé had bought together) and belongings, and decided to use the money to backpack across the world. "I wanted to feel strong again," says the 31-year-old.
"I always had this idea of seeing the world, but was never brave enough. But, when this happened, I felt that I could do anything, go anywhere."
A few weeks before she left England, Colins started a blog (www.notwedordead.com) to let her friends and family know what she was up to and get her story across. "As my journey began, I started getting more readers. People would send me inspiring messages and this boosted my confidence," she says, adding that this pushed her to work on the Lonely Hearts Travel Club series — stories inspired from her travels.
Her first book (a fiction), Destination Thailand, which released in January this year — and traces the journey of Georgia Green after her wedding is called off — is loosely based on Colins' real-life experiences. By the time Green comes to India, she is more confident about travelling on her own. Nonetheless, she finds herself struggling. "India is the place to go if you want to step out of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, see the world through a different perspective and leave with a sense of pride that you’re probably a different (and possibly better) version of yourself," Colins writes on her blog.
Her protagonist goes through a similar learning curve. "Green even goes to Mumbai, works in a Bollywood production and then makes a trip Goa, where she learns yoga," says Colins, whose book releases in India in June.
The writer, however, never ended up visiting Mumbai. "I travelled to Delhi, Agra and Goa around three years ago," she says. Fellow backpackers, who had travelled the length and breadth of the country, however, relayed most of the stories about the city to her.
Next, Colins is working on the third book in the five-part series — Destination Chile, which will be followed by Australia and Bali.
"Heartbreak is universal, but how you deal with it, is up to you," she says, "Travelling helped me find myself again."