Tag Archives: wandermates

Homes away from home.

Home is where stories begin.

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Home is where we start dreaming. Home is where we are at peace. Home is where one can have warm food. Home is where one can laugh out loud. Home is where you can poop at ease.! definitely yes!

So when it comes to traveling, there is nothing better than finding home away from your own home. It sounds counter intuitive if you think. If you had to find a home somewhere far from your own, why would you want leave the one you already have? Adventure, my dear adventure. One cannot span the mountains and the oceans without an anchor ground, a place that makes you at ease with your surroundings. A place that gives you resting space, rejuvenates and charges you up so that you can carry on with your wanderlust. Such is a home away from home.

Enough romanticizing. What I want to talk about is the difference between staying at a hotel and a home stay.

I recently discovered the wonders of home stays and thought I would share it with everyone here.

For the uninitiated, home stays are places where you share your living space with a local person or a family instead of booking a hotel room. You may have to pay, may not have to pay. You might have to help the family with their chores in return of accommodation and meals.

What to expect from home stays?

They generally have  a local person or a family already living in that space. More often than not they entertain guests because they like it rather then the need for money. What it means is that one should be courteous and well mannered to your host. Stay away from communal and racist arguments. Avoid drunken house parties and brawl, unless the host is part of it, or at least okay with it.

Respect their privacy. Respect their property.

As opposed to staying at a hotel, where one can  pay for damages, here you might be damaging some ones house. House is a more sentimental possession to your host than a soulless hotel room to the company. So, not everything you break can be compensated with money. Take care of that.

Why I always try  to find a home stay before hotels wherever I go now?

Hotel rooms are like lifeless boxes. If you’re a solo traveler out to experience a place to its fullest, nothing can replace the warmth and expertise of a local host. Once you check in to a hotel room, no matter how plush, very soon you are left alone with the four walls and a ceiling to stare at. The clock ticks in silence and you can hear your heart beat to boredom.

Cut to a home stay. There will generally be a warm host waiting to welcome you. As soon you check in, you can meet your new local friend and start planning your day. Since the person has generally being staying there for long, he knows the secret nooks and crannies of the town that can add the local flavor to your stay .

You have the option of sharing a local home made meal with your host, which is impossible staying in a hotel room. We all know hotel menus and tastes always fail to replace home cooked food.

It’s a pleasure to see the town with a local. Your host may take pride in showing you his locality and with a smile would introduce you to his circle of people from the locality. Many a times it opens doors that are otherwise shut to everyday tourists.

There can be mutual exchange of knowledge, skills and culture. Like you can help your host setup a Facebook page. Or examine his sick relative. Or fix a little plumbing job for him, if you have the skills. At the same time you can tell stories of your folks from home and enjoy the stories of lives from your host’s place.

As opposed to surfing channels and internet in your hotel room, this is a much better trade off I say.

It is fun to stay in touch with them once you are back home. Unlike a hotel stay which is easily forgotten. You meet your home stay friends when they come to your city or you go there again.

Now, where to find hosts?

What I have tried is AirBnb.com and the app. Its the first name when it comes to booking a home stay. From a room in a house to a complete house to yourself, everything is listed. AirBnB is always paid and at times little expensive than budget hotel.

Next is Couchsurfing.com and the app. Staying for free is the norm here. It works on Facebook referrals and background checks. It works in your favor if you have also hosted some guests in the past, or at least have a verifiable Facebook account.

So, do check them out next time you are hitting the road. Cheers..!

 

 

 

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Wandermates #5 – Gramlines

gramlines

Of the many things I liked about the Ziro music festival was that it was very relaxed and informal. The artists who performed on stage came down and joined the crowd, sharing drinks, chatting, enjoying other shows, being one like the audiences.

So on my way back, in the sleeper coach of my train, I found myself in good company of the Italian band called Gramlines. They had performed at the fest and had kept the audience in awe throughout the show. They play rock in an alternative/soft genre with good lyrics.Since I had the opportunity to talk to them, I was curious to know what would they do in everyday life. As audience, the general practice is to hold artist o a pedestal, and one never comes to know about them as a person. I find it intriguing.

To my surprise, theirs was not a full time band. They are a bunch of long time friends who came up with their own music, but still  are pursuing their education. So, one of them is a pharmacist. One is pursuing PhD. in Physics from Australia. Two of the members are students of philosophy. I was impressed to see that these guys were rooted firmly in the reality and not whimsically drifted to the lure of glamour and money.

It was also interesting to learn their understanding of what makes certain bands super successful and some die an unnoticed death under the shadows of popularity. They said that its mainly because to please the masses,  as a band, you generally have to deviate from your own style of music and become what is promoted to the population as ‘cool’. So, in return of money and fame, you might give away your creative freedom and emotion of the music.

You can checkout their Facebook page here  : https://www.facebook.com/GramlinesBand/?fref=ts

Have fun.

Wandermates #2

” A journey is measured in friends rather than miles” – Tim Cahill

This is an attempt to share all the interesting stories of people I’ve come across while on the road .

One at a time.

We often bump into  a lot of people everyday. Some interesting, some outright rude. Some cunning and some sweet as honey. Nevertheless, for a brief moment,  two lives intersect each other.

Generally while traveling we’re more receptive to strangers.

I like to chat with the locals and hear the tales of their  childhood. The fables of the land. The beliefs built by that human being over a lifetime.

Shri Dikshit Ratna ji

I had the fortune of meeting a Jain monk right in on the first day of our travel in Gujrat. We were staying at one of the many dharamshalas at Palitana, a major Jain pilgrimage. The fact that the monk was only slightly elder to me made restless with curiosity as to why would someone renounce worldly possessions at such a young/productive age.

It was memorable to discuss the workings of life with someone almost your age, and young at that. He was a qualified engineer living in Mumbai before renouncing worldly ways and delicate himself to search of spirituality. His family had been supportive of his off the beaten path decision. They themselves had been staunch followers on this school of spiritualism since generations.

Travel, at times exposes you to such people that you start questioning your own understanding of the world around you. They offer you new challenges, if the conversation is taken in the ride stride.

I wish all the very best to Ratna ji in his spiritual pursuits.

Wandermates #4 – Byron.

“A journey is measured in friends rather than miles” – Tim Cahill

This is an attempt to share all the interesting stories of people I’ve come across while on the road .

One at a time.

We often bump into  a lot of people everyday. Some interesting, some outright rude. Some cunning and some sweet as honey. Nevertheless, for a brief moment,  two lives intersect each other.

Generally while traveling we’re more receptive to strangers.

I like to chat with the locals and hear the tales of their  childhood. The fables of the land. The beliefs built by that human being over a lifetime.img_20160921_111027shrink

This meek looking gentleman is way more than what meets the eye. He runs the most popular homestay deep in the jungle of Sohra or Cherapunji. He speaks fine english, his place is very clean and the food menu is an extensive palette. All these tings made me curious, so probed a little deeper.

So, Byron has wore many hats, including being a teacher of environmental science in Meghalaya, working for multi national corporations and so on. But it was his love for cooking and the emptiness of staying away from family while at work that bought him to give up city life, and make the forest of living root bridges his home.

It was fun staying at his place. Smoking hot tasty food while its raining like donkeys in the heart of forest make for memory of a lifetime.

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