The Story of Nama-Stay
Nama-Stay, a home away from home has been welcoming people from December 2017. Initially an impulse to give back to the community while hosting people from around the world, the idea transformed itself into a passion project.
How could it not? We were in Kanatal, a land of spectacular natural beauty abundant with deodar, pine, oak & rhododendron forests and the majestic Himalayas around us. We realised how lucky we were to be from Garhwal, Uttarakhand–a place for daily discoveries and adventures. Where else would we see the wonder of the growing crops or the harvest, the joys of lush green summers and snowy winters, the comfort of good food and tender, familial care. Where else would we take long walks in the woods for self-discovery?
We realised that in nature we felt everything we didn’t feel elsewhere. And we decided to stay in the woods–to let the explorers come to us where, together, we would renew ourselves.
Nama-Stay has already hosted hundreds of guests and volunteers from at least 5 out of the 7 continents. Our guests and volunteers have become a part of our lives and have stayed in touch with us, keeping us updated about their lives, and have repeatedly told us how Nama-Stay and Kanatal made a lasting impression on them and sometimes, even changed their lives.
Thanks to every person who have been here and contributed to our journey.
People willing to know more about us can go through our website link: http://silverkloud.in/nama-stay/
A regular day at Nama-Stay
At Nama-Stay, we make time for deep breaths and deeper introspection
We think of Nama-Stay as that place you glimpse while climbing a steep path. You tell yourself, a little further, a little higher and just at the bend of the path, you come across a house–a place to sit for a moment, to rest, to catch your breath, and then as you explore the beauty of the place, you decide to stay and let the place wash you anew.
“Nothing is more beautiful than the loveliness of the woods before sunrise.” – George Washington Carver
We don’t mind if you decide to sleep in but most of us are early risers. We wake up as the birds start calling, when the valley is painted in faint hues, and watch the sun come up. It’s that moment as the silhouettes make way for bright colours when we realise what the poet Lord Byron meant when he said, it’s not that I love man less, only nature more.
1) Begin With Yoga
Mornings at Nama-Stay begin with Yoga, It’s our belief that balance is the key to a happy and successful life and a way to achieve that sense of balance is to instill rituals into our everyday life. One of the most important ritual is the practice of yoga, best described by Paramhansa Yogananda who said,
“Yoga is a method for restraining the natural turbulence of thoughts, which otherwise impartially prevent all men, of all lands, from glimpsing their true nature of Spirit.”
In the land of Kanatal with its numerous meandering treks and walks, it’s also a great way to begin your day and stay fit.
2) Follow It With Meditation
We have turned away from silence. Day after day we increase the noise in our minds by spending unreasonable hours on social media. This is distracting, it’s stealing our essence of life, our contemplation. Meditation is the biggest solution. At Nama-Stay, we can train you in the art of meditation. We can teach you how to reconnect with yourself. You will sit quietly, with your eyes shut listening to the sounds of nature, the chirping birds and the rustling leaves, till you descend within yourself and find a silence rarely achieved.
3) It’s Time For A Hike
If you’re anything like us, you’ll agree that hiking is a zen time. Kanatal has an average elevation of about 8500 feet (2590 meters) and there are numerous mountains around for a good hike. The highest point of Kanatal is the Surkanda Devi Temple which stands at a height of about 9,995 feet. The people behind Nama-Stay are trekkers and while we fully encourage aimless walks in the woods (it’s perfectly safe!), we can also accompany you for a guided tour.
4) Afternoon with children
Nama-Stay doubles as a school and several nearby children come to us to learn English. Frankly, English is hardly the main driving force, children run to Nama-Stay every afternoon because they get to meet and interact with people from all over the world. Our guests, for their part, are thrilled with the interaction. From reading, painting to playing indoor games, there’s a lot to keep the children occupied.
5) Sunsets At Nama-Stay
“If you are in a beautiful place where you can enjoy sunrise and sunset, then you are living like a lord.” – Nathan Phillips
Life stops in Kanatal during dusk as people come together to gaze at the skies where clouds are bringing not rains or storm only colours of the sunset.
6) Home-cooked, sumptuous food
Parvati didi, our in-house chef has her own farm. She brings her seasonal vegetables to cook for us and the taste is second to none. Every meal is freshly prepared, authentic and a unique mixture of Garhwali and Nepali cuisine.
Meet The Faces Behind Nama-Stay
If you ask the guests at Nama-Stay, they’ll tell you that Yudhish is a philosopher, but he is, in fact, an all-purpose man with a deep knowledge of Garhwal. Yudhish doubles as a host, chef, yoga and meditation teacher, and of course, a philosopher and guide on request. In his free time, he can be found learning music.
Not much can be said about Haachi except that we adopted her thinking she was a Himalayan Sheepdog but she transformed into a mutt. While that has not reduced our love for her. No guest, ever, has been able to resist her charms and just as most of us fall in love with her, she wags her tail and walks away.
We can’t promise whether Hachi will talk to you but we will, so please come 🙂
Nama-Stay doubles as a school
Numerous Nepali families have made Kanatal their home. Most of their children are first-generation learners and while each child goes to primary school, completing education can be a far-flung dream. We encourage our guests and volunteers to spend time with the children and impart some skills that those of us who live in cities take for granted.
When we set out to find a place to build Nama-Stay, our passion project, we came across a well-preserved house that immediately told us this was it. We always believed that the mountains, the skies, the woods are the best schoolmasters but what a pleasurable coincidence it was for us to learn that this well-preserved house which is currently our home-stay used to be a school in the past.
Keeping up with the tradition, the children of the nearby village come to Nama-Stay every evening to learn English. Yudhish have formerly worked as an Assistant Professor, his approach towards education is experimental, unique and friendly. Children are taught with the help of slates, notebooks, drawing, spoken word, recitation, and also through mobile apps.
The most popular game among the younger children is the paper and pencil game of Hangman but even more popular is the kho-kho and kabaddi that we play after every class.
Meet our neighbours
When you come to Nama-Stay it’s not just the natural beauty that will win your heart but the love of the people who live here. Like elsewhere in Uttarakhand, the women of Kanatal are resilient and multi-faceted. They bring drywood from the forests, farm, cook, clean and take care of their families–striving from morning to night in a desire to build a better life for their children. One such family lives right next to us at Nama-Stay.
Devilal Bhaiya and Chanda Didi
While Chanda is occupied in numerous tasks in her house and farm, Devilal is the man who has not only helped us make the home-stay functional, he continues to support us with our day-to-day tasks. You might have heard of the hospitality that the pahadis show but hearing is not experiencing. Whether it’s conversations, endless cups of Chai or a hot meal, the door of their house is open to every traveller who wants to experience the pahadi life.
Parvati Didi, our chef
We sat down with Parvati didi one day and asked her about her daily routine. We found out that she wakes up at dawn to bring drywood, toils away in the farm all morning, arrives at Nama-Stay to cook lunch, returns home to eat only to start working in the farm till sunset and then arrives again at Nama-Stay to cook dinner. Her 14-hour work day might be comparable to how much people work in cities but the physical labour required is second to none. Parvati didi will tell you the secret to her strength (the clean soil, air and water of the village) but not her famous rai ki sabji or rajma.