I just spent one month traveling throughout India and had the experience of a lifetime. I was captured by the colours, the spirituality, the sounds, the smells, the kindness, the diversity and the sheer volume of people. As you could imagine, from being in the country for a whole month I have so many stories that I would like to share, but instead of writing a novel I’ve chosen a couple of my favourite moments.
The two stories I’m going to share reflect the foundation of our Spontaneous Tourism Model™- creating a memorable, personal cultural experience for a guest that seems spontaneous and unplanned. Since India has such a large population the competition is extremely high amongst tourism entrepreneurs, drivers, restaurants, accommodations and any other service related to the industry. This adds pressure to the service providers to think of creative ways to set them apart from their competition.
In Agra, we hired an auto-rickshaw driver named Vijay to take us around the city to see the sites. His service was incredible right off the bat; he wasn’t pushy and left it up to us to decide where we wanted to go while giving us great recommendations. Before we started our day he invited us to have some chai (local spiced tea boiled with milk and sugar) with his family. He welcomed us into his home and we sat on his rooftop talking with his brother, father, children, and friends. It felt so genuine and unscripted that we were able to share this experience with Vijay and his family – I’m sure he does the same thing with all of his guests, but we felt like we had a unique spontaneous cultural experience.
At Varkala Beach in the southern state of Kerala we stayed at a small guesthouse called Gama’s Residency that was a bit off the beaten track. You could tell that the owner Sheena was just getting started in the tourism industry so she was thrilled when we decided to spend 3 nights at her place. She had a motherly charm to her and always had a big smile on her face.
She invited us to eat at her restaurant, which was basically a table outside her home, but since she was so nice and showed us all the fresh seafood that she picked up from the market we decided to give it a try. We had a delicious fish thali (a selection of different dishes served in small bowls on a round tray) which was one of the best meals that we had the entire trip. She constantly made sure we were enjoying everything and offered us seconds. We felt like we were part of her family during our stay and we appreciated the care and wonderful service she provided us – we ended up staying an extra night.
It’s sometimes the small unscripted details that are the most genuine and make experiences unique and memorable. These are the details that create positive word of mouth promotion and in turn create repeat visitors and attract new people.
I will always remember those moments and will recommend those experiences to anyone traveling in India.
Written by Amanda Huculak