Monday, December 11, 2006

Hospitality in the Hills

Over the last 10 days, we went on a tour into the Himalayas and i've had quite a few learning experiences. The first of which is the "from the heart hospitality" of the Pahadis (and I mean it as an affectionate term).

Our yatra took us from Amritsar to Himachal, where we covered the whole state by Car- Dalhousie, McLeod Ganj, Manali, Rohtang Pass route, Shimla, Kufri, Sidhabari, Khajjiyar etc etc and one thing which struck me all thru was that hospitality is more than a business in the hills.

For a state which has tourism as one of it's most important sources of revenue, the people should have got tired of tourists, who, more often than not, relish spoiling the beauty of the place around them. However, it strikes us as a great surprise when the people whole-heartedly welcome us in and do more than they need to.

Whichever hotel we went to, firstly, the food was very very good. secondly, the service was impeccable (i'm not talking here about big hotels- wayside dhabas are mostly what we went to) and in more than a week, i've not seen one guy frowning!!

Enroute to Rohtang Pass, the road was completely blocked with ice and we had to go up walking for a distance and when coming back, we were chilled to the bone and all of us went into a small kiosk selling tea (that's where this photo was clicked).

4 sisters and a brother immediately took charge of us, putting us around a huge fire and giving us hot tea. Now, we were feeling hungry and one of us asked what could we eat there. Someone suggested Maggi and in a minute, 5 packets of noodles came out. Believe it, one of the sisters went home and got onions, tomatoes, chillies and cabbage and made noodles, the kind of which, i've never tasted in my life!! There was love served in those bowls!

And how much did they charge us, 15/- per bowl!! Maggi packet costs 11/-. This is just one of the experiences in Himachal.

The point i'm trying to make connects here. Life in the hills is very difficult. Few months a year, snow blocks them out. Few months, their places are completely taken-over by tourists who show scant respect to their culture or surroundings. Still, they do not lose their cheerful disposition. 

Hospitality for them is not a way of making money. It is an extension of their regular life. To know what i'm talking about, one should experience the hills- not just the physical aspect of their beauty, but the beauty of the people who live in them. They are the true beauty of the Hills.

1 comment:

Saro said...

I can imagine what a nice warm smile being served with maggi could do to a tourist in the middle of the himalayas.. :)