I have always been amazed and the hospitality and simple mindedness of people living in remote regions. Especially so in hilly areas. Some of the stories of friendliness that I heard in my recent trip to Himachal are nearly unbelievable. The extent of trouble that the hosts would take to ensure that their guests – even if they are strangers – is simply amazing.
My best memories of friendly people comes from the villages deep inside in the hills of malnad. On my first trip to Yedakumeri, we were wandering aimlessly and arrived at a village. We weren’t sure where we were going but had heard that there is a small fort nearby, and decided to head that way. We stopped by a house to ask for directions.
A lady came out from the house, asked what we wanted, and went back inside. The man of the house appeared in a few moments and inquired where we were coming from and where were we headed. He called us inside, explained us the way and in the meanwhile asked if we could have some tea and something to eat! He was apologetic and said they did not have milk available and can make black tea if we would not mind. Tea came in no time, and it was easily the best tea I have had yet! He kept us entertained all the time we were there, talking about their life in semi wilderness, explaining us about the region and more. There was affection and goodness in his eyes and in every word he spoke to us. He was such a delightful company.
Another time, we were driving in a muddy road in the middle of thick forest, and again we did not know where we were going. It was a narrow road going uphill and we encountered a jeep on the way, heading in the opposite direction. I was on the wheels and moved a little to the left to make way. The jeep came near us and stopped, and the man driving – Mr.Rebello, asked us where we were headed. I said we really did not know and were just exploring. He stopped and got down and explained us about the region and about a few beautiful vista points nearby we could go to. He owned a coffee estate at the end of the road, and offered us to send us one of his workers to guide us around. He was apologetic that he had to be going out of the estate on some work, but would soon be back and join us. We thanked him for the information and moved on to one of the vista points he had mentioned. An hour later, when we were just heading back, the coffee estate manager came looking for us to ensure that all is well with us and we are not lost. He guided us to Mr.Rebello’s residence, where Mr.Rebello served us amazing filter coffee and snacks. We chatted for a good one hour and his company was absolutely delighting. Just like the man we had met at Yedakumeri, Rebello was a perfect host.
I have often been a witness of such amazing hospitality in hilly regions, even to strangers. And they are so humble that they genuinely feel that it is a privilege for them to have us with them, and make us feel humbled in turn. Such company is one of the many things that make me return to the hills again and again.