Pride with no prejudice

Written by Tashi Tobgyal | Updated: Jan 6 2008, 05:39am hrs
Jaipur. Youve probably been there. Youve probably been there more than once. But there is now a new home stay facility that you might want to check out next time you are in the Pink City. Its called the Jaipur Pride. They dont welcome you with the regular marigold petals or follow the bed-and-breakfast grind. Instead, the unique selling proposition here is the symbiotic relationship between the host and the hosted towards weaving memories of pride for the past gone by in Rajasthan.

It is an innovation in the lodging industry, imparting and sharing knowledge, imbibing a sense of pride among the home owners, creating benefits, additional employment, and above all, contributing towards the tourism growth of the country states Apurv Kumar, executive director of UP Hotels and pioneer of the Jaipur Pride home stay concept. Started two years ago, it is now one of the worlds largest branded home stays.

Its better than staying in a hotel says Kim young Jin, a Korean visiting Cosy Home, which is run by an ex-banker Mahesh Tikku and his family. After a hearty Indian supper, the Korean family retires into the homely comfort of the neat and spacious rooms at Cosy Home. Living and spending time in an Indian home is the best way to see India. We had exchange seminars to learn more on treating and dealing with guests even if language would be a barrier, explains Tikku. Specifics like the size of the room, lighting, facilities, food, sanitation and accessories are the other issues that are also to be addressed.

These home stays have three categories home, deluxe and luxury. The tariffs ranging from Rs 2,000-5,000 are inclusive of breakfast and the costs are reasonable for other facilities like laundry, internet, phones and heaters. There is also a call-home facility for massages, tailors and anything possible within the vicinity of the homes.

It is great to be having people from all parts of the world, sitting with them over a barbecue or a bon fire and knowing about each other and our cultures and countries, states Candy Singh, owner of the Sriniwas Country Home. This country home is an enchanting structure in a village in suburban Jaipur, away from the chaotic cacophony of the city. It has the stamp of royalty, harking back to the Raj era. The furniture, wall hangings and even the old photographs complement the look further. Many visitors opt to experience living in a typical Indian village, and thats what Sriniwas Country Home is for, adds Singh.

All over the city, about 40 homes are members of this initiative and the home-owners are a mix of bankers, teachers, interior designers, people from the defense and administrative branches, with a zest to be ambassadors of their culture in their own special ways.

Many of the visitors have maintained correspondence with their guests, exchanging gifts and mails, creating a network within which the concept grows. Some of our guests have celebrated festivities like Holi with us. I remember this old lady who did the salsa with my children for an hour, while my wife has sometimes accompanied guests on their shopping sprees on request remembers Tikku. Some of my guests have even taken back home Indian recipes from me and left their Lonely Planets behind adds Ridhsidh Kumari, another home-owner.

Then there is a must stay in La Voute, which is owned by Rishikesh Sharma, an interior designer. La Voute looks ordinary from the exterior, but has beautifully done interiors. The Mediterranean and Moroccan dcor makes the four-room home truly special. With land becoming more expensive, it is only wise to step up the number of home stays. With a good brand strategy we can give a positive first impression to our guests, instill pride in our heritage, impart education and create employment, says Kumar. And he adds that areas around the home stays have now become cleaner also. Thats being environment friendly too.