The Zen factor of our model of wilderness homestay.
All these years, after observing eco tourism sites including homestays, I had come to believe that its success boiled down to something very mundane and impersonal – conventional marketing and advertising, proficient staffing and a lean management structure that would generate a well balanced account book with regular profits. How wrong I was. In the last two years, when Corona made us think of alternative ways of generating income, followed by the recent period of a regular trickle of foot falls, rather bed falls, I have come to sincerely believe that a wilderness homestay like ours must have a superlative Zen factor, and success ultimately is satisfaction for us as well as the guests.
It took a prophet from another state to point out to us something we knew in our heart of hearts but could not go against conventional financial wisdom. Indeed, it had to be highlighted by the wise guest and his family the value of a soul-enriching, heart warming, meditative state of living with and within nature; interacting with guests who are not commerce oriented but nature, tranquility and food lovers. Instead of us hoping to gain a couple of petty pennies from our venture it is more profitable to gain life experiences from our guests.
This is now repeatedly happening: on opening our home and hearth to stranger families, and interacting with them under spiritual trees (‘Thanda Chaya’ or sweet shadow as the Santal tribals have called our evening get together space), we are feeling enriched emotionally. What value, in monetary terms can we allocate to this gain? Our mental and physical health, and pervading satisfaction will, I believe, in the long run prove that what we are gaining is much beyond money and assets. For all this, many of our discerning guests are to be given full credit. We wish them well too, and bless them.
Under sacred trees, caressed by the balmy breeze of an evening, we are hearing stories of perseverance, inspiration, and will power overcoming physical and mental handicaps; spirited determination successfully fighting heavy odds. The impact of such dialogue on us, the Mukherji family is powerful. We are gradually grasping that as long as we are able to offer superlative service, restful ambiance, hospitality, and can lovingly share our home cooked food, all would be well. We will be ok; and the guests will be ok and happy to visit us repeatedly.
In this simple gathering of youngsters enjoying a birthday party under the sacred trees, instead of in a DJ party place, my geriatric limbs felt the tingling of dopamine!
If in the process we are able to train more local tribal ladies in appropriate home and kitchen crafts, their children in events that educate, and in skills that can give them income opportunities in their later years, besides creative pleasure, our reward will come from Heaven through more discerning Guests. I look forward to the helping hand of guests who have loved to have spent quality time with us.