Talk it Over, is a weekly show curated and hosted by RJ Annapoorna Ravichander, Public Affairs Foundation. This series brings together a pool of experts who share their opinions and ideas on varied topics.
Ajit Thandur along with his wife Uma run an organic home stay called Organics Retreat (rightly named) in Mysuru. The one-acre property houses their residence, quarters for support staff, rooms for guests and 3 lovely dogs apart from a gazebo and a well-maintained garden plot that has organic vegetables and fruits. What is unique is that this venture was germinated due to the personal interest that the couple have for nature. This apart, Ajit is a fitness freak, nature and animal lover and an excellent host.
Genesis of Organics Retreat
In his introduction Ajit stated that the homestay began with the need to share his and Uma’s experience on organic living and farming. Paying attention to a lot of minute details the homestay was put together with indigenous materials-Manglorean tiles, brick walls and colourful flooring using athangudi tiles apart from encouraging young artists to paint some of the walls with colourful murals and warli art work. The homestay was started around a year ago and picked up some good business, but the COVID-19 came into the scenario and they had to stop taking in guests due to the lockdown.
Effects of COVID-19
Ajit mentioned that his business was hugely impacted by COVID-19, due to the lockdown. Both international travel and national/local travel was zero, hence no visitors or customers. However, things slowly started coming back to normalcy. So the first thing they did was to be cautious and check on the guests with regards to their background, where have they come from etc etc.
Ajit mentioned there were several, however the key ones include:
- Importance of hygiene
- Going back to folding hands (namaskar) rather than shaking hands
- Maintain social distance at all times
- Simple things to follow, but nothing new, this was being done earlier and as children we were taught to do this
- My eyes opened to understanding what is co-morbidity and issues faced by elders, during the pandemic
- If one maintains good health they are helping people around them to be healthy.
User Experience at Organics Retreat
Families and children who visit the homestay get to experience vegetable gardening, they can actually see and pluck some basic vegetables and see them being cooked before relishing. Children are encouraged to dirty their hands by planting seeds, farming, talk to plants. Often Ajit walks them through the plot and explains to them the different usage of plants. Sometimes children sow seeds and the growth of the sapling is captured and shared with them.