“As the pandemic receded and life began returning to normal – even for those of us in the travel industry in Asia – I realized I needed to travel and reconnect – in order to recover and recharge. I took off in early January for about six weeks of travel down the tropical coast of India, from Goa to Kerala. The highlight of my trip was staying a week at a village homestay in rural Kerala with Ponnammma “Ponnu” Rajan.
Though 75 years old, Ponnu is still going strong. She lives alone in a large modern house where she makes almost everything she eats from scratch. Her yard is essentially a spice garden with an astounding number of things growing – from bananas to coconuts, from chillies to beans, from turmeric to pepper. And wow, can she cook! For a week, I ate like a queen, feasting on local specialties like masala dosa, mango chutney, vegetable dishes made from freshly picked okra and banana flowers, and much, much more. I left feeling loved, cared for, and deeply content.
It’s these kinds of immersive experiences that makes travel worthwhile for me, and also the kind that we like to offer to our guests at India for Beginners.”
I founded my company, India for Beginners, to share my love of India, and to give our travellers the chance to really get to know the people and the culture.
Some people have the perception that travel in India is daunting or dangerous. I don’t feel this way. I have always enjoyed travelling in India. I think it helps that I’m a woman as I am trusted by other woman, who open their hearts and homes to me as I travel. And it’s this kind of transformative experience I hope to create for our India for Beginners travellers, most of whom are women.
We support women wherever and however we can — from hiring women drivers and guides, to staying at women-owned homestays, and enjoying women centred experiences like home cooked food. We especially like to support women artisans, especially in Rajasthan. It’s a state known for exquisite arts, crafts, textiles, gems, shoes, and other products. We search out women artisans and women run studios and include visits to these local businesses on our itineraries.
What can women travellers do to support other women when they travel?
Women should patronize other women owned businesses. That’s number one. We should also value and support feminine knowledge, skills, and initiatives. Women in traditional societies excel at a wide range of skills that are often undervalued and overlooked. We need to showcase and honour these women and these skills — otherwise, some of these traditional arts will be lost. And perhaps most of all, we should travel as women, with open hearts, and an attitude of compassion and kindness. We should seek to understand others, embrace experience, and build cultural bridges — all the things women are so good at, and which the world is sorely lacking.
Are you ready to take the first step?
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