Friday, 24 January 2014

Calling All Digital Nomads, Head to Ghoomakad

Quitting a day job and running away to the hills seems like a romantic idea? We entertain it over a cuppa and conversations with friends, but leave it at that. And then I met a group of people who went ahead and did it. This is their story.
The welcoming party, Team Ghoomakad 
Digital Nomads
Fine things churn out of debauchery, so say the likes of those who have tasted extremes. Ayush Ghai and Pratyush, founders of and Metataste, a personalised movie discovery engine perhaps experienced an epiphany, a calling on one of those traffic ridden commutes from their Delhi city existence. “I just want to go to the hills and never come back, are you in?” Ayush asks his long standing footloose friend Pratyush. And the story begins.  

(l-r) Pratyush, Jubin and Ayush
They set out to Himachal, lived out of their rucksacks, digital nomads pruning the city air out of their systems. “I am not going back, I don’t know about you” said Pratyush, smitten by the mountain air. Yes, I’d like that too, but we need to look for a place to set base,” replied Ayush. Now both the young lads, digital nomads, entrepreneurs in their right, yet still they needed a base, an anchor, not a hotel, something they could make their home in the hills. A quest for such an anchor thus began, they travelled through the villages, knocked on every door, explained their purpose. The stars aligned in a little village called Rakkar, 12 kms away from the popular tourist town of Dharamshala.

From the Founder
Our host Mohinder with Guddi
Meet Mohinder Sharma, resident of Rakkar, visionary among his people, and the first in his family to receive an education. He is well aware of concepts like sustainable development, eco tourism and was looking to connect with like-minds to help him kick-start his ideas. He said, “We are shepherds by profession; our ancestors led a nomadic existence travelling from one pasture to the other. Our homes were simple, made of mud and stone. They kept us warm in winters and kept out the heat in summers. Besides they looked so beautiful. And when we moved on, the people after us could use all that natural building material for their farms. Now with everyone building fixed ugly dabba cement homes, it only pollutes the environment. So I decided to build my home in a sustainable way just like my ancestors and invite travellers into my home for an authentic Himachali home stay experience.”
“I found it difficult to reach out to travellers, to share the idea of Ghoomakad with travellers and when Pratyush and Ayush landed at my door step, it was exactly what I needed.”
With a home base, wifi in the hills, these tech boys were all set to live their dream. Waking up to the sight of the Dhauladhar maintain range, a game of soccer with the village kids and then off to work by the stream flowing nearby, a work space and home stay with all the amenities of a city and the picturesque mountain-scapes was all set up. Jubin Mehta, a writer and story teller who joined the two tech boys a year back shares, “Once on a trek to Triund, I was travelling solo so had carried all my tech bags along, tech gadgets included and when I reach the top of the hill I was surprised to find amazing data connectivity at the top too. What more could I have asked for!” Moving to the mountains followed suit.  

Ayush notes suggestions during a brainstorming session with villagers, in the midst of a weave   
Glocalisation & Collaboration
My preference of stay to each destination I travel has always steered towards student hostels or home stays as opposed to hotels. I have found the experience of living with a local and exploring its flavours that much more wholesome than the objective hotel experience. And with online platforms like Airbnb connecting people, it is just a matter of time when hotels will cease to be the first choice for accommodations.    
Ghoomakad I’d say, it is an ideal experience for digital nomads, entrepreneurs and travellers alike. At Ghoomakad I experienced glocalisation in its truest form; with an evening spent watching live webcasts from Germany about the future of computing and the next spent with locals discussing organic farming initiatives and sustainable infrastructure in the village. It was amazing to see the openness with which the city bred tech brains aligned their thought processes with that of the simple, practical farmer and house maid, the toughest problems being solved with the simple collaborative ideas. This element of involvement is what was endearing.

Travel, yes; but if while travelling you’d like to do something, contribute to a sustainable goal, head to Ghoomakad, a work space, a home stay in the hills for wanderers and thinkers alike.
Call: 09882226638 (Mohinder)

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