Category Archives: Off-Beat

My tryst with a villager family who was once a stranger

Madam, yeh ek choota sa gaon hai, aap yahan adjust nahi ho paaogi.  Aakhir Aap sheher se hain, said a person on the other end of the phone.”(Madam, this is a small village. You won’t be able to adjust here. You are from a city.)

I smiled and said, do not worry, I like to travel to places like these. He seemed astonished. The man on the other end of the phone was a person, I never met.

I got in touch with him over a conversation on a Facebook community back in 2012.  However, he was right. My travel destination was neither a sight for beautiful mountains nor was it a place anywhere near the sea. I was also speaking in broken Marathi, thanks to my schooling in Mumbai. Hence, I definitely did not seem a person from another country who wanted to explore a local place so unheard off.  The guy on the other end connected to a villager who was to host me for the days I wished to be at the village.

My backpack in my room. That is some rustic living.
My backpack in my room. That is some rustic living.

Living with strangers and that too as a girl is something that gave me those rolling eyebrows from people who even knew me. In those, were also my friends, who perhaps, knew me  closely. Back then, it did sound adventurous. However, in hindsight the experiences made me travel more often and trust people in the villages.

Going with my gut, I set off to learn to live with a tribal community in Maharashtra.

My tryst to learn Warli Art

I like the tribal art –Warli done by the adhivasis of the North Sahyadri range in India. The Warli tirbe is found in the belts of Dahanu, Talasari, Jawhar, Palghar, Mokhada, and Vikramgadh of Maharashtra. The art is the part of their everydayness and every house has a traditional warli painting.

The tribal warli art found in the house
The tribal warli art found in the house in Veeti

With the quest to learn the art from the adhivasis themselves, I choose to go to Veti in Dahanu located 130 kms from Mumbai.  After finalising my plan and coaxing my friends to accompany me for a day, they were more than willing to tag along. All though my gut told me I would be safe, I needed the assurance.

Once I reached Veeti, I got to know the meaning of the phase Atithi Devo Bhavo– Guest is God. The entire family was excited to host me and my friends. Sandeep Dada (Dada means  brother in Marathi) climbed a tadi tree, a tree similar to a coconut tree and gave us the fresh fruits. We ate the delicious radishes from the farm.

Then Sandeep Dada, showed us the Warli art that he had hand painted. He was passionate about his art, however, marketing and selling it to cities was always a struggle.

Sandeep Dada, was going to be my teacher for the next four days.

My day with the Sandeep Dada and his family

Every morning would start with getting up and listening to his stories about his life in the village. Then, he would give me something to draw and teach me the art and would always encourage me to draw. I still think, I cannot draw!

My teacher gave me good grades
My teacher gave me good grades

Some days were about learning the art, while other days were about talking to the children or doing nothing at all. Yes, gazing at the night sky and seeing the stars was always on the agenda. I also visited the nearby dam which was a beautiful sight.

The nearby dam

I never realised when I was called tai which meant sister in Marathi. Isn’t it amazing that the people you really do not know, who were once strangers become close to you and you share an emotional bond?

In my four days with the family, I ate fresh food and had a clean air to breathe. It seemed a bit odd that the family would serve me first and then eat. I tried to tell them to eat with me, however, it was their hospitality and the culture and they wanted to serve the guest first.

Sandeeo Dada and his family
Sandeeo Dada and his family

A wedding at the village

Sandeep Dada and his family took me to a traditional tribal wedding. While the men were drinking the local drink – Neera and got high, the women were busy running around with the work. Out of nowhere, the bride’s mother hugged me and gifted me a saree.

The warli art which was also a part of the wedding
The warli art which was also a part of the wedding

There was an old grandfather who was dancing with this stick and was enjoying the wedding.

While I came to learn the warli art, I got much more in return. I was filled with gratitude. It made me think:  Nobody had a reason to be nice. This is the love of the villages, I seek for. This is how my faith in humanity is restored. Hence, I say, “I am a city girl whose heart is in the villages of India.”

As I write this, it makes me feel sad that I am not in touch with Sandeep Dada as I lost my phone and eventually changed my number.

However, I want to go back to the village and trace the family and show him this story that I shared with you, dear fellow traveller.

How an unplanned trip of spotting Peacocks in Maharashtra became one of the best experiences

Mixed feelings had set in already

Friend’s friend: Why do you guys have to travel like this? Why cannot you book in advance? We are wasting so much time!

Friend: Ummm. We will find a place for the night. Do not worry.

In her head she seemed nervous. What if  the two boys who were traveling with us did not like the way we traveled? After all, she was the link between the three of us.

Changing the topic she said,I need a place to pee.

Me: Yes, I need to pee as well.

But in the middle of the pee pressure I was shit scared.  I asked myself was this trip a mistake? Should I have planned before?

My head popped my biggest fear as a traveler.  The fear to travel with people who are totally opposite of the way  I travel. What if  I end up having a bad trip? Instead, what turned out to be was a trip no internet search would have ever provided.

We were in Chincholi Morachi, a district in Maharashtra ,55 kms from Pune, known for spotting peacocks.

We thought it would be best to explore Chincholi through the eye of a local person.

That is one of the best travel lessons I have learnt- In locals you should trust.

This time, there were not many people around to even ask.

When we were walking by to find a place to stay!
When we were walking by to find a place to stay so stay!

Two women. The cost to pee- Rs 1000!

With all of this going on in my mind and a strong built-up pressure to pee, we found a government guest house after walking for some 15 minutes. I thought, I could free my pee. However, the government guest house wanted to charge Rs 500 as entry charge for us to pee. Which meant Rs 1000 for the two of us!(The entry fee included sight-seeing with food as well.It was past lunch time and we did not want to waste money just to pee and come back)


On a mission to find a roof over our heads for the night

We asked some hawkers  near the government guest house if they knew a place to stay. They were essentially farmers and were kind enough to invite us to their home. However, we did not want to invade in anyone’s home without prior intimation.

We did not have internet on our phone as we had reached a remote area. and network issues had started to pop up.

My friend’s  friend came running from a place with a guy’s contact of a homestay. He  asked a person at the local barber shop on the road and he guided us to Anand Farm house.

Another travel lesson  I learnt here-Travel, if you want to move out of your comfort zone!

It was a weekend and one of the person at the farmhouse said that the place was booked and packed. However, when he heard we had already arrived, he said that he will make the arrangements. Within 10 minutes he actually came to pick us up from where we were.


An overnight trip for Rs 500.

That was what the beautiful experience cost us! 500 Rs. Unlimited food, pay whatever you feel like. The hospitality and the attitude of the 65-year-old man Anand, the owner of the farmhouse  was something that will stay forever with me!

Anand had several acres of land. However, the land did not yield him as much money from farming and he said that the middleman took more margin and not much money was given to the farmer.

To lead a sustainable life, he  started the concept of village tourism by showing peacocks to tourists. Anna as he was fondly called,  had a good business sense too. He was stern, firm and one would automatically listen to him. He said that he wants his guests to be homely and does not do this for money.

The glimpse of the food served to us

The local Maharashtrian food was so good that every now and then I I would want to eat more. Seeing the peacocks was the icing on the cake. We explored on bullock carts and had one of the most humble village experience. All we knew was Chincholi Morachi is a place in Maharashtra which has plenty of peacocks.


Travel lessons 

Had we planned in advance and booked one of the most sort after guest house through some internet research, we would have never got a chance to find w In fact when we were leaving the place, Anna said that we were like his daughters and we should come again.

What we thought would not have turned out the trip as we thought it be, turned out to become one of my best trip experience. The freind who was pissed off also became open to the unplanned and go-with-the-flow trip attitude!

The hobo feels it is good to get surprised by the place and it’s people!


 About Chincholi. 

Where is Chincholi: Morachi Chincholi is a town of dancing peacocks. It is said to have 2500 peacocks. Situated near Ahmednagar-Pune highway, it is about 55 km from Pune in Maharashtra.

Why you should visit Chincholi?: If you are looking to spot peacocks, want to have an agro- tourism sort of trip or want to be away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this is the place to be.