Tuesday, May 25

India is my Home-Stay

... a desi drive


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We are off on one huge trip to experience India from the eyes of the 'every-day', local, desi, son-of-the-soil Indian.

We have been driving across India for over 10 years now and we have almost always stayed at resorts or hotels (except in towns where we have had a chance to shack up with friends and family). We have never experienced the Home-Stay hospitality.

The reasons are many... we did not know where to find them... or what to expect in a home-stay... are they clean... will it be like a 'paying guest' thing... will we share a room with others... what will the food be like... and the toilets?... oh so many questions.

It's not like we have always stayed at 5 star hotels... just that we expect a little bit of cleanliness and privacy... especially when you are on the road half the time. We love to experiment with local food... but we also love our thayir-saadam (curd rice).

Lot of the home-stays we Googled have nice websites... but being in the website business ourselves, we know that a good website does not always mean a great product/service... it just means a good web-designer was hired.

We chanced upon the Mahindra Homestays website a while ago... having been Club Mahindra members for a while now, we know that they are 'good' at their job and we could expect a certain quality if we looked at homestays associated with them.

We spoke to some people at Mahindra Homestays and learnt that unlike their 'time share' holiday products (Club Mahindra  and Zest) this was not a membership driven venture of the Mahindras... this was purely aimed at introducing a centralised homestay repository of quality 'mom-and-pop' operations.

This trip is dedicated to live that experience.

Also, this was going to be our first really looooong trip in our new Xylo - Haliaetus, christened after the brown-n-white sea eagle that lives in the coastal regions.

Now, our white Xylo with brown interiors lives in Chennai with us and glides like an eagle on the Indian highways. Can't call it a car... feels like one, drives like one... but it is a MUV/SUV hybrid... love the space, love the clearance... just love Haliaetus.

Also love the fact that it is white... we get right of way on most roads... people/cops think that we have some 'political connection'... helps us get to our desination faster... :)

"Blue, red n purple country cottages along a road lined with pretty pink flowers; his powder blue tshirt stands out against the orange n yellow painted store. Didn't think travelling down South in midsummer can be so colorful :) "

Day One... We drove from Chennai to Thekkady. The road upto Trichy is fabulous (NH45) but after that to Dindukal (Pillow Rock town) and beyond needs some work... 4-laning is going on so the road is patchy... good and bad in sectors... more bad than good. Probably have to wait till end of the year to be finished.

Night One... Shacked out at Club Mahindra Tusker Trails, Thekkady. We had to experience the Club Mahindra hospitality before we started on this trip... after all it was Club Mahindra that introduced us to the Homestays concept.

"The heavy sky is grey, overladen with monsoon clouds playing hide and seek and spilling on to the tall, green Vagamon hills. Green is the color of the day. God's own tourist destination is known to have an abundance of green, but in this summer heat... the look is cool, man! Kerala and monsoons, here we come! Gold jewellery, rubber chappals, dhotis and saree hoardings, tea plantations, coconuts, bananas and girls with big eyes and oiled, long, black hair... here we come! "

Tomorrow we move on to our first Mahindra Homestays destination Kodianthara, in Kumarakom, Kerala.


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