Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Where Relationship Begins...


Milind’s Homestay, Dandeli

I read a blog. I like all bloggers. I feel, without them, we will not get to know many things. Last week, when we were disappointed knowing that the PWD Guesthouse that TS had booked at Ganesh Gudi, Dandeli was taken away by some of the senior engineers from the department. What can TS do? Or what can we do when something is not available? So we were in a jinxed state as to what do we do for our 3 days trip to Dandeli. We had only one day left with us to arrange for an accommodation as our train tickets were confirmed. And then I read a blog. I am not able to trace out now as to which blog it was, but that turned out to be too good a success.
It was Milind’s Homestay and I read excellent reviews about it in the blog. I had no higher expectation from it other than getting a basic accommodation for ourselves at Dandeli for 3 days. Initially when I spoke to Milind, he did not promise me any luck. But after a while and going through his busy schedule of holiday season’s bookings, he called me back saying he can give us one house and he can accommodate all 9 of us. As per the blog, the accommodation and food would cost us anywhere ranging between 800-1500 Rs per person per day. I was not worried about the cost as I wanted to make sure that we need some basic accommodation at any cost. All other resorts and jungle resorts were full and they had nodded me negative to my request. And of course all of them were outrageously expensive.
TS kept trying his luck with Ganesh Gudi guest house, but he returned with no better luck except that they promised us to give the old guest house with only 5 beds and a common toilet area. We were a bit reluctant to that offer as we had a newly married couple in our team and a ‘Kisaan from Kandwar’ who will be more uncomfortable without a western commode. So finally, all of us, agreed for the ‘expensive’ decision. I called Milind and got the confirmation on the booking. He also offered to arrange a jeep for us for three days to move around the places. He had offered that he himself would come along with us as a guide with no additional cost. The plan was to get down at Dharwad station at 7.30 Am and the jeep (14 seater cruiser) driver Rajesh would pick us up at the railway station.
We were delayed by one hour and we finally reached Dharwad at 8.30 Am. By then Harish had reached Dharwad from Pune and was asleep in the giant jeep. Rajesh, without wasting much time, drove us to Dandeli in full speed which made the drive feel like a four wheel drive (4x4). Milind was not at home in the morning but everything was organized for us. We entered the old house and we saw the neat dormitories.

We glanced through the house, toilets and the garden at the back yard. We were quite contented with the facilities. He had a 24 hours gas geyser, one color TV, and few chairs to sit inside the house other than the beds. Even though the old house did not look good by its appearance, the facilities were good. Milind has three houses with six beds each. All the three houses are in a row and with a garden space attached for the camp fire and related activities. His house is 200 meters from these guest houses. For food we had to walk down to his house. His house is also a very old house which is very big because they are a big joint family. It looked like a Railway coach from one end to the other with a lot of rooms attached. Madhumita - Milind’s wife, Corporator of the ward in old Dandeli, welcomed us and served us the breakfast. After the great breakfast of Shavige (noodles) made in Konkan cuisine style, we headed out for our first activity of Crocodile trails.
After our first activity, we met with Milind. He, like Madhumita, looks tall, smart, fair and young by appearance. During the initial first discussion with him, we came to know that he is a very honest and a good guy. From then onwards, he was with us throughout our trip and he planned all the activities for us. We enjoyed the way we were treated for the next three days. Coming from a hotel management background, working for years in Dubai, Kuwait, and Goa, Milind knows how to treat the customers well. He gets in to the customers shoes and acts as per their tastes and preferences. Wherever we were stuck to make some decisions, he used to make it easy by convincing us about the activity with a proper reasoning. Since he is in to the politics in the corporation, he knows a lot of people and he has a network of people who can help him in every way. In that way, we could explore lot more places where many people (common tourists) cannot even go. Also, once he came to know that we are a team of amateur photographers and adventurists, he came up with the activities that matched with our preferences. He took us to the moon light trekking which was absolutely thrilling. Trekking to a small hillock called ‘Huligudda’ under the moon light in the wild forest without torch, made the whole trip worth enough. He tried to spot many interesting birds and species so that we can take a photograph of the same. One such event was when he spotted a spider eating a cockroach in the late night at his house; he came to us and took us there just to show it to us so that we can take a photograph of the same. We appreciated for him being so good to us.

Likewise all the three days we had a good time with him and his Homestay. Our activities were as follows: Crocodile trails, Supa dam catchment area visit, Bird watching, visit to Kaneri river and syntheri rocks, visit to Aalemane (we prepared the sugarcane juice by ourselves in the manual traditional machine), Moon Light Trekking to Huligudda, visit to Anshi wildlife sanctuary, Kali river white water rafting.

Most important aspect and the most satisfying aspect of this Homestay and our three day visit was the FOOD. I have put on atleast 2 kilograms of weight after eating the kind of food Madhumita and her team of cooks prepared for us. All the dishes were special. They served both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. After looking at the way we were eating during the first day’s lunch, they started preparing many varieties of foods that we had not tasted. One such feast was when they prepared the Banana flower curry. That was simply out of the world. We all enjoyed the food royally. Every meal was loaded with new dishes that we hadn’t tasted earlier. Madhumita comes from Maharashtrian family so the food was a mix of both Konkan and Maharashtrian cuisine. I am sure if the same amount and quality of food, if have it in Bengaluru, we would end up paying thousands of rupees per head per meal. All the non-veggies had a feast of different varieties of fish and chicken dishes. Right now it’s mouthwatering as I am writing about it.
All in all, Milind’s Homestay was a heavenly place for us. It was like a typical home stay along with his family members. Even though Milind is yet to completely formalize his venture, as he says by himself, he is still learning the business. One day he would like to grow it on to a major business. I am sure and we all are sure he will succeed. As his signature statement says “Where relationship begins…” he will definitely have the customer retention to the fullest. Nobody will be dissatisfied if they get in to his relationship.
The whole reason for me to write about it is to promote his Homestay. We enjoyed it a lot and I strongly recommend it to anyone who wants to visit Dandeli and have a good time spent there. One can contact Milind at his mail id wildmilind at yahoo dot com or call him on his mobile 9945ninefive9505 to book the Homestay. I think his Homestay is the most economical in that region. Costing would vary between 500 Rs to 1500 Rs per person per day depending on your requirements and activities.
We all could get such a lovely satisfying experience because I read a blog which had Milind’s contact. I hope my blog will also help someone to get in touch with Milind. I wish Milind all the very best in his endeavors.
Visit my Flickr set for more photographs of our trip:
Srik

9 comments:

Raghu said...

It is nice to hear about Milind.

As people always say, if you want to satisfy a person 'look after their stomach'. That is to say, serving good food is the first step to satisfy the guests. I guess Milind has very well understood this.

Good info with very nice photos. Hope this helps many who wish to visit Dandeli.

Narasim said...

Your nice story brought back wonderful memories.

The regional/ethnic South-west Indian Coastal(Konkani)cuisine offered by the cooks was second to none.

By the way, is it not a bit late in life for those sitting on dormitory beds to complete their schooling? I admire their determination to complete the 12th Grade. More power to them.

Vaishnavi said...

Nice to read about your experience. Looks like you didn't get the PWD guesthouse for a reason - you got to meet Milind and his family, and you got to see what you may not have gotten to if you had not stayed here.

The food bit sounds very interesting to me!

Will surely keep this home-stay in mind if I ever plan a trip to Dandeli.

Hari said...

"The best way to enter a man's heart is through his stomach"...Milind and his family have proved this through their mouth watering Konkani and Maharashtrian cuisine.

It was great time spent in Dandeli....Thanks to all who made it happen...

Lets propagate the warmth hospitality @ Milind’s....

Samparka said...

Sri thanks for the information. I was planning something in that region .. after reading your blog i know whom to talk to and where to go :)

Sudhi said...

Yes Sri, it was really a great trip with good food and accomodation. You took a good decision at final moment.

Sight seeing, bird watching, trekking, rafting, everything was good......I really enjoyed a lot!

Thanks to Milind & his family and thanks for all who made this a great visit!

T S said...

Hey Srikanth.. Our treks,trips, experiences and your writings are good asusual..!! Ooops..!! We did it..!! finally. White water river rafting at Kali river. Experience was awesome. I enjoyed a lot...! We should do some more time for longer duration and distance. One has to feel that rafting experience if they visit Dandeli..!!

Thanks to milind for his hospitality and guidance. He is the right person to guide in Dandeli. Really good information, sure it will help to people who need it.

Rakesh N S said...

Guys,

anybody has milind's no? I lost my contact.
I would like to have his service again.

sapana yawalkar said...

I went to dandeli last week and had a stay at Milind's home saty only. after reading above comments, I must say he's the same now. Very polite and a perfect guide and host. Dandeli is no doubt a paradise for nature lovers and being with Milind has only enriched the experience.