June 11, 2009

No chocolate mints

Drove to Coorg for a vacation, first half of May. When we started looking for a place to stay there, there were two things I didn't want.

* I didn't want to stay in a "resort" that looks like every other "resort" on the planet, complete with swimming pool and chocolate mints on immaculately ironed pillowcases.

* I didn't want to stay in the dim "lodge" opposite the bus station in Madikeri, where a buddy and I hung out on a previous trip to Coorg. Him and me going again, we might have picked it again. But family, including kids and my ma? Something a mite more comfortable, is what I thought.

So we began hunting for a homestay in Coorg, and very quickly understood just how powerful a buzzword it currently is in travel circles. Coorg alone has 600 (and counting) establishments that say they are homestays, and that they are eco-friendly and tranquil and beautiful surroundings and close to nature and ... so forth. How do you choose?

I'm not sure how we did, any more.

Also, I wouldn't ordinarily plug one of these establishments in this space. Except that we truly felt we were extraordinarily lucky with the place we found and spent four days in.

It's called Bel Home. It's up a dirt track in the middle of a tract of what -- to this city-zen, at any rate -- seems like thick forest. It's two comfortable rooms in a coffee estate, surrounded by bushes and flowers and colours and a plethora of birds. So plentiful, that they even combine in a particular obstacle as you approach the rooms: you have to bend your head to sidle past the bush and its little white blossoms, listening to bees buzz in your ears as you go, and somehow it's like a welcome song.

Despite a health crisis in her family the morning we arrived and all through our stay, Ramolla Deviah looked after us like we were, indeed, her family. Our room was airy and spotless. Her food was varied, sumptuous and elegantly served. Eating while looking out onto butterflies and trees was a treat. Walking uphill along the road to the next coffee estate, the only sounds were birds and crickets, our footsteps and the panting of Ramolla's two dogs who tore around like happy dervishes.

It truly was an escape. Not just from the mad rush that is Bombay, but also from the trash and general disorder that, sadly, blights even small towns in Coorg. But what made the escape extra-special was Ramolla's care and attention to detail.

Three things to note, before I end.

* Yes, there's a spot on the estate where you can, if you contort your body just so, get a weak cellphone signal. No, I will not tell you where it is.

* Make sure you don't stand in that other spot on the estate where a coconut from the tall palm may land on your head.

* No chocolate mints on the pillows.

Charm, you see, comes in various forms.

Lots of establishments want to be known as homestays. (Well, not the lodge opposite the bus station). Most are clearly just cashing on on the cachet of the word. But Bel Home is, in every sense, like a home. In a word, go.


Boskoe said...

Hey D3,

Had a pretty bad experience last year at a 'homestay' in Coorg - rooms were unkempt, no space, owner was indifferent, high costs (comparable to the high-end resorts in Coorg) - so had pretty much signed off on the concept of homestay. But this seems interesting; will definitely try it out - is the pricing appropriate?

- Biju

Anonymous said...

Pakistanis have cleverly played up the Americans into arm twisting India into talks. The venerable Sardar will talk; for he has no other option.

I can almost hear the Americans saying to the Sardar 'In the past you 've always put up with these things without kicking up much dust - domestically and internationally. So what's all this fuss about 26/11. Why don't you go back to what you're good at - be a quiet good boy'.

Ot said...

Dcubed, why does your blog attract the blokes suffering from sour grapes about the BJP defeat, like anonymous above?

I feel for him. Five years of moaning ahead.

Anonymous said...

The questions is Ot, how the hell we tie down the perpertrators of 26/11. BJP have already been shown the door.
That much seems to have been settled. Now the real hard task begins.

Anonymous said...

Americans will placate the Indians - an odd defence deal ,promise of a high chair in one of the international bodies, throw a few Oscars and other awards at the chatterati and we'll all go home and come up with a convoluted argument even blaming Kasab's prey for their fate.

Anonymous said...

Now Ot, why don't you prove me wrong on what I said at June 13, 2009 1:24 PM

Anonymous said...

Hurts Ot...don't it, but your response offers no relief mate. Once again we seem to have proved that Churchill was right

"Power will go to the hands of rascals, rogues and freebooters. All Indian leaders will be of low calibre and men of straw. They will have sweet tongues and silly hearts. They will fight amongst themselves for power and India will be lost in political squabbles"

Anonymous said...

Have to say above comments are 'alleged' to be Churchill's

Anonymous said...


In summary 1. Pakistan is saying to us that it will not mend its ways and 2. By asking to be friends with Pak, Americans are asking us to pay with our blood for its foreign policy misadventures in South Asia, Central Asia and China.

Somehow Americans want to deflect Taliban / Al Qaeda anger towards India so that they can scamper out of AfPak.

Anonymous said...

Pakistanis should be appreciated for doing something. They seem to love action. Look at us....complete inaction just wishing with the situation resolve by itself.

Dilip D'Souza said...

Boskoe, I thought it was definitely good value for money.

I'm delighted to see so many comments here that relate to the post.

Aditya said...


Thanks for mentioning this. Will check it out sometime.


Anonymous said...

DDD is at his best with a travelogue!
I hope he sticks to it.

It's only his Sociologist opinions that get tinted with Stalinist-Missionary glasses.

VM said...

Hi Dcubed,

The coincidences continue, because I was also in Coorg with kids (and my mother!) in tow in May! You're freaking me out now! Are you in my office here in Panjim right now?!

Dilip D'Souza said...

VM, that's me under your desk. Can you get a better wireless connection, for God's sake? And get me a drink while you're about it.

Alex said...

Yup. Eco-Friendly. Coffee Estates, Forests and Friend natives. Thats Coorg. Very nice place. I was there last year. But it was very crowded during the seasons. One thing to be noted. Mobile networks are really bad.