How to take back your damn life.

Kerala Diaries — Week 2 and thoughts from Thrikkaipetta, Wayanad

Hey there! This is Week 27 of my blog series where I keep myself accountable by keeping an online journal of sorts. You can read the beginning of this story — Why I quit my job to study, volunteer and travel.

I hung out a lot with these lovely ladies — Photo Credits — Me #ShotonOnePlus2

3 Step Guide to taking back your life (Short Version)

1. Understand that it is “YOUR” life and no one can take that away.

2. Listen to your gut and all the people around then do whatever you think is right.

3. Control your reality, everything that happens can fall into 2 broad categories.

  • What you can control (Circle of Influence)
  • What is outside your control (Outside Circle of Influence)

The next time anything happens that bothers, excites or frustrates you. Stop. Think. Where does this fall? Can I influence it? Check out the below scribble for the details —

Guide to taking back your life (Long Version)

It had been a long journey. The winding roads and the 9, yes nine hairpin bends that I got through as I traveled from Kozhikode (Koh-ee-code) to Thrikkaipetta, a small hamlet in the Wayanad district in Kerla, India to reach Mr. Daniel’s home stay, a Community Tourism initiative.

The lush expanse of greenery en route from Calicut to Thrikkaipetta.

Over the past 2 weeks, I have been interning at Kabani Community Toursim and Services Limited. They’re into “Community” tourism. “Regular” tourism does not confer the benefits of tourism to all the residents of a particular area and consolidates the income in the hands of a few hotels, resorts etc. Inspired after the Kabani River that flows in the “other direction”, (44 rivers in Kerala, 41 flow towards the west and only 3 towards the east; Kabani the most prominent among them) they aim to take tourism in the other direction with the involvement of the community.

How do they do it?

They train and develop villages across the southern region of India to host travelers in their homes. Yes, it is the AirBnB for villages in India. They’re different from AirBnB due to their emphasis on travelling responsibly, sharing 60% of the revenue with the host, 15% contributed to a development fund monitored by Kabani and 25% invested back into the company and facilitation of cultural exchange with the hosts through interactions, village walks etc.

How is this related to taking back your damn life back?

In 2008–09 the farmers in the Wayanad region had a problem. There was an infectious crop disease wrecking havoc on the yields, exacerbated by a deficient rainfall, fall in commodity prices and reliance on credit.

The regional branch of SBT (State Bank of Travencore) had suspended further lending and was making attempts to get the money back from the farmers. That would not be because there were no crops, ergo no collection. The bank took a step back and suspended further lending to farmers and other agro-based industries in the region.

Blow after blow, there was only so much that the farmers could endure before a string of farmer suicides ensued.

Mr. D, the resident bad-ass as I like to call him felt the need to change. So here is what these folks did. Instead of pointing fingers at the government and rainfall, they introspected and wondered if they could do anything differently. In essence, they took an inventory of what is inside their circle of influence and what wasn’t.

This is why for me, this is a great example of “How to take back your life”.

Moving on with the story, Mr. D with the help of some of the organizations in the region, namely Kabani and Uravu laid out the vision for a sustainable Bamboo village with a decreased reliance on agriculture and thinking of ways to diversify income sources.

After a lot of persuasion, the SBT Manager visited the town and had an interactive session with the villagers where expectations in terms of loan repayments and behavior were laid out. A number of small establishments were set up during this time, including a Pickle Shop, a Bamboo Nursery, Jute and Bamboo Bag Store, Handicrafts store, Food and Condiments store all of which are still operational and have repaid the loans to SBT!!

They adopted the community tourism model and were able to improve their house utilization and bank accounts while exposing them to the culture and people of the world.

My daughter is doing South Asian Studies at Chittagong, Bangladesh and might be going to another international university for her Masters! ~ Mr. D

“My daughter is doing South Asian Studies at Chittagong, Bangladesh and might be going to another international university for her Masters”, beams Mr. D recognizing the impact of having people from all over the world living with her and growing up with her over the past years. She didn’t have any problems even for the telephonic interview as she was already fluent in English and was comfortable understanding foreign accents.

Life starts at the end of your comfort zones and for the people in this village, life took off like a rocked once they changed their perspective and opened their minds, houses to community tourism.

The people of Wayanad took control of their lives, changed and adapted to make sure that same circumstances do not result in the same consequences effectively thriving and moving one step closer to taking their life back.

I write about Mr. D and his daughter to demonstrate the incredible world that opens up to us when we decide to change. Isn’t this a great example of taking life back?

They did it, when are you taking your life back?

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Thanks again to all you wonderful people for the love and support.
If you want to say hey, give me feedback or reach out to me for anything, I would love to connect with you —
Peace and Love. xx