Finding the Nest
Finding the Explorer’s Nest on airbnb was a true serendipity moment! I had looked for accommodation in Jaipur…and found so much more: a home, a guru, a friend, private yoga practise, eternal wisdom – and so much more! I found the best place to stay in Jaipur! I learnt so much about myself in those four days – I still cannot quite believe it.
When Arvind first turned down our accommodation request on airbnb, I was gutted.
‘Surely I HAVE to be there. This man does Yoga on his rooftop. I’m SURE it’s meant to be!’, I said to Ben throwing my Hands up in the air and walking up and down the room.
So, in Aries-like fashion, never giving up (they also sometimes call it ‘stubborn and not letting things go’), I sat back down again ready to Arvind a message; when all of a sudden my Airbnb app notified me that said Arvind just sent me a message.
“I’m so very sorry, Tess, but unfortunately the couple who is staying here decided to stay longer and I failed to update airbnb this morning.”
I replied “That is not a problem, Arvind – would it be ok for you if we came a day later instead? I see you do yoga on the rooftop. It would be lovely to join you – I’m bringing my own mat ;)”.
“Yes of course you are welcome. I felt so bad turning you down earlier – I’m looking forward to meeting you!”.
YES!! BOOKED. See? It pays off to ‘Never never never give up’!
I immediately sent through the booking request and did a little dance on the spot. ‘I am going to do Yoga on his rooftop!’ – as I dance out of the room, Ben folds his hands over his face while giggling at my excitement.
The stay at Arvind’s turned out to be so much more.
When we arrived we were greeted by a typical Indian gentleman in his fifties – not too slim, not overweight but someone who visibly enjoys good food – with a gentle manner – more of the quiet introspective type – who radiates a bit of insecurity or perhaps respect for an initial encounter with strangers.
He shows us to our room and I’m blown away at the look of it. Tastefully decorated with Indian antiques everywhere and a huge King size bed with poles and pink fabric draped around it.
The moment I walk in, it feels like home. A home out of a time when India was ruled by a King.
I felt like I was in a fairy-tale!
There is this positive energy that makes you happy right away. This place will be perfect to catch up on some serious typing without feeling like I was stuck in a hotel room. It was all I imagined and so much more. As the days went by, I ventured in and out of my room only to go for breakfast and dinner. My lunches consisted of fruit. Ben took care of the planning of the onward journey – since Christmas and New Year’s was around the corner – we had to let go of ‘serendipity-let’s-see-what-happens-and-not-plan-much’ and plan our December and the beginning of January if we wanted to be at a certain place during a certain time. Flying was going to be too expensive, so we decided to make use of trains and busses instead. Travelling by train in India is very easy and cheap! Plus, it’s a fun way to meet locals along the way and see the beautiful scenery. The plan was to spend 5 days in Jaipur, then take the train to Jodhpur – the blue city – spend two nights there, then continue to Jaisalmer – spend Christmas there and do a camel trek safari including sleeping under the stars in the desert (as you do) – and continue to Udaipur. Then, drive all the way down to Goa for New Year’s and continue to Kerala to spend the rest of our time in India in the South, before heading to Chennai by train and fly to Thailand mid- January. This was one hell of a lot of planning to do – planning for which I did not have time for, as I had too much to type, too many photos to edit and too many frustrations going on with Word Press which was unbelievably slow out here (thanks to the the slow Internet in India)!
So Ben volunteered to take care of the planning whilst I did the typing. I wanted to get everything done in Jaipur, so I could actually enjoy some of India without constantly worrying about all the posts I had not yet written.
Although venturing out for a delicious Lassi was a must – you cannot come to Jaipur and not have delicious Lassis (20 pence, people, 20 pence!!!!).
Apart from Arvind’s extremely enriching Lectures on Yoga and its science in the mornings, Arvind, an inhabitant of Jaipur for two decades, was also the perfect host to tell us all he knew about Jaipur and India in general.
But his personal stories were my favourite.
I love how he falls into a stare as he thinks about what else to say and how to explain things while saying ‘Soooooo’ keeping the ‘o’ going, before he continues with his speech. His wive is a Botany University Professor who lives in the house next to ‘the Nest’ together with their son. Arvind, who takes care of the Airbnb business, is rarely at home – they seem to live very independent lives – especially now that their son is finishing his High School and soon going off to college.
Who is Arvind?
Arvind is a retired army officer and keeps himself occupied during the day whilst his wife lectures at the Rajasthan University. Ben has a brief encounter with her, whilst I’m in the room typing – a real confident chatterbox with an impeccable English. She tells Ben all about corruption in India and impresses with her general knowledge – I guess a given if you work as a Professor.
Arvind tells us that he likes to travel 1-2 months, mostly to the North of India – ‘I love the mountains’ – he says while smiling – he likes the cold and Jaipur becomes unbearably hot during monsoon season (45+ C). While he wanders off to the mountains, the Nest remains closed since no tourists come to Jaipur during that time in anyway.
Arvind likes to travel for long distances and for longer periods and if he likes a place, he stays there for 10 days before moving on. If he can’t find a place he likes, he sleeps in the car. “I’m never worried, you know” and shakes his head as Indians do whilst moving his hand in the air from one side to the other.
“My wife prefers the 4 days / 3 nights holidays in style. She wants a comfortable bed and good food. So we do this once in a while – but mainly I travel alone.” I love how independent these two are. It’s very much how our relationship is like. Going on holiday alone is the most natural thing in the world for us.
A Swiss lady who stayed at the Nest before us had invited him to come to Europe. Arvind politely declined: “Firstly, it is very expensive to travel to Europe and Visas for Indians are very difficult to obtain. Secondly, India is big. There is so much to explore here!”
I smile when he says that. Something about what he just said warmed by heart. I was moved by his humble attitude and the love for his country. “I’m not someone to walk around in a herd of cattle, like they do in those organised group treks. I like to go off and explore the real world”. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree!
As we wander back, I smile at our little group chatting away. I was craving for genuine encounters like this ever since we started our adventure around the world. I knew, the next serendipity moment wasn’t too far off.
What is your AirBnB story? Has a stay turned into so much more and completely unexpected? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.