Gratitude List, Travel Tales

[#Gratitude] Travel Tales – Feasting on a hill vacation in Uttarakhand- Part 2


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Everyone who is following me on my Instagram, cannot help but see all the divine pics I had been sharing on my three weeks long hill travel in picturesque Uttarakhand. It was my first real break for 2018 and I lived it up to the maximum. Thanks in no small measures to my gracious and loving hosts who have already sent me the invite for the snow viewing in December πŸ˜‰

In continuations to my #100HappyDays and #Gratitude mentions on my blog all of October, I am writing about my part 2 of this divine stay. This post is about the amazing things I learned about adapting to hill way of life via my gracious hosts.

When I prepared for the travel to Uttarakhand, little did I know the tips and treats I will get to imbibe – all an essential part of living in the hills. I knew my hosts are eco conscious people who practice tonnes of green practices and I was worried about the clutter I might add via my packed stuff. I tried to be as conscious as possible of making sure no single use plastic will be disposed by me in the hills.

During our various walks I noticed 2-3 things which made me curious enough to find out more about these practices. I could smell the lovely woodsmoke in the early mornings but there would be a divine tangy fragrance there which A pointed out at pine needles. Yup the natives collect the fallen needles and use it to fuel their stoves. I simply loved the smell and yearned to pack a bag full of them to bring back with me.

Second was seeing these symmetrical cuts on the pine trees and a small metal cup installed right under it – apparently this is done to collect the sap/oil from the tree which is then sent to the factory where its used in manufacturing of plastics. I was dismayed to see that over time the tree trunk turns black at the bottom and very soon the tree snaps and falls from this junction. Would you know more about this practice?

As I lived there, I realised that living in the hills is a huge mindset change. It’s not all about being amid nature, etc but also about adopting the practices that are important for sustainability of environment. In the cities, we take our garbage disposal for granted. I mean its collected from our homes; never mind that it maybe dumped right outside the corner of our house.

In the hills, people burn their daily rubbish and it’s not unusual to see smoking piles when you step out for a walk. My hosts were aware of this and had already made plans. They segregated their wet waste to be fed to the cows which belonged to the next door neighbour and all the dry waste was collected to be disposed on every trip to the city limits like Nainital/Almora where a municipal existed. Only the meat bones, coffee beans and egg shells were ground up to be added to the garden soil as we couldnt feed that to the cows.

Guess what- the cows loved the fresh peels and would moo with joy seeing one of us approach with the bowl. Ever since I am back in the city, I have been missing them πŸ™‚

Bio-enzyme is something they make and use in place of Lizol, harpic , etc and it has replaced every chemical cleaner possible in their house. On top of this, they make hand soaps using natural ingredients, crushed soapnuts in hot water for washing utensils and citronella oil in place of odomos. I was amazed to see bamboo toothbrushes, charcoal tooth powder and bamboo cotton buds in their loo. And soapnuts in the washing machine to wash clothes which is a very cost and eco effective solution to detergents.

You could check my post on how to make Bio-enzyme at home here

Then there were the fresh things growing all around, which A happily turned into amazing feasts. First day I was there, she made these awesome apple oats and the apples were from the garden. So were all the other fruits in her house plus fresh mint, rosemary,lemongrass, etc.

You could check my post on the easy peasy Buttery apple oats here

All their kitchen containers were ceramic/stone or glass; plus they shop from wholesale shops to ensure nothing comes in packed in plastic. From their coffee beans to jaggery sugar to sea salt to chilli flakes – all are brought from the various wholesale shops they keep exploring. I was majorly crushing over the gorgeous stone pottery from Japan/Vietnam etc that they lovingly brought back on their many travels. Dont miss out on the pinewood chopping board which they got made when they shifted here.

I was overjoyed at their committment to the environment – never mind the extra efforts it involved. I came away with loads of tips to incorporate in my household too – just wishing for a neighbour with a cow πŸ˜‰


I would love to hear about your eco practices for the household – do share your tips with me folks!!

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18 thoughts on “[#Gratitude] Travel Tales – Feasting on a hill vacation in Uttarakhand- Part 2

  1. By the number of times you’ve used divine, you seem to have died and gone to heaven. How lovely it is to have a vacation that leaves you truly energised and charged. Sometimes I think though that this eco friendly thing is driving things a bit too far. Less plastic has meant more paper which obviously comes from more trees…..And using neem bark to brush teeth? Wouldn’t my granny have had a good laugh! We were the ones who converted her to a plastic tooth brush!
    I’m afraid I don’t follow any eco practice save the compulsory segregation of waste. I have also stopped gift wraps but use news paper to gift wrap.

    1. Ha ha ha – yup I did use that word too many times; trust me it came straight from the heart! πŸ™‚

      I dont think genuine eco practices are a fad – there are some companies out there making a joke out of it and fooling people into buying stuff on this basis; but the ones that I am talking about are helpful to the environment. They are tiny things but have an impact. I am a part of a Zero Waste lifestyle group on FB and you have to read about the changes people have made in their lives to accommadate such practices.

      Yes we are going back to the basics of neem for brushing our teeth and all. All the technology has led to gloriously packaged products with little or no value. Thats the root cause of so many diseases and pollution.

      Glad to hear you are using newspaper instead of the expensive wrapping sheets – I too man re-using the gift paper/newspaper for this purpose and have totally stopped buying pretty wrapping sheets no matter what the temptation! Chimanlal in Mumbai used to be one of my fav haunts to buy some amazing paper!!

      1. Do you know that we Marathi people totally believe in giving gifts without frills. Even our gifts are frugal . Our wedding gift to the bride from her mother is only 5 saris, 5 pots and that’s it . And in the old days the wife ate after the husband/ kids eating from the same banana leaf and finishing the leftovers in the plate before a second helping . And feeding the cow the banana leaf afterwards!

        1. Thats so wonderful Sunita – I dont understand why we do so much pomp and show in our gift giving at weddings and festivals. Its fun to give and receive gifts but in a limit.

          I have stopped asking/expecting stuff and have been telling my mom and sis especially as they always end up picking something for me too!

  2. I love hills, especially the Himalayas and I realise that’s a trip long due. I didn’t know people were so environmentally conscious in the hills, time for us city dwellers to learn from them. I make bioenzyme too, but will check out your recipe too, Shalini!

    1. Fist bump on the bio enzyme Anshu; I am so happy to know one more person who uses this. May our tribe grow daily! Share your reicpe too – we will learn from each other. Rachna Parmar also has her recipe on her blog. I also use soapnuts in the washing machine which is something I learned from Rachna only.
      I think its an awesome thing for city slickers to not mess up the pristine mountains with trash; we geenrate far more trash than the hill people as we buy more than we need. Plus we have extravagant needs.

  3. I have always loved hills. Darjeeling used to be my favorite vacation spot throughout my growing years. Infact I used to wish that I was born in a hill station in the next birth. I remember seeing snippets of your vacay on Twitter and I would yearn for a holiday. This post is so beautiful and has so many take aways that it feels like I had been there while you absorbed the beauty of your surroundings.

    1. Darjeeling has been on my list for ages; somehow just never gotten around to heading there. I hope you get to a hill vacation soon; its one of the best things to recharge in nature!

  4. I haven’t ever visited Uttarakhand, but it’s definitely on my list now, after reading your experience. And I love how your vacations are so full of adventures and learning, while still being a wonderful break from it all.

  5. Sounds like you had a good holiday. I’m with Belly Bytes, there needs to be moderation in all things. Eco friendly is the new fad but we need to tone it down a little.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Suzy- I beg to differ on the eco friendly being a fad. Maybe there are companies/inividuals who are exploiting it aversely to influnece people to make money off some spurious products.

      But the eco friendly practices I am talking about lead to cutting down on garbage, using alternates to single use plastic, reducing chemical affluent waste which goes directly into the soil and mixes with groundwater, etc. These are serious issues and every little bit we do counts. I practice several things in my household to avoid polluting the environment as much as possible.

  6. It was an interesting read. I am actually amazed at the various possibilities of living a zero waste life. It requires lots of efforts to lead a life like your friends are living and it needs to be applauded. I have always wished for a piece of land where I can grow my own vegetables. My parents used to do so when I was in school. We had a backyard where they grew many vegetables and cooked them fresh. As a child, I loved picking up vegetables.

    1. Thanks Anamika; it is indeed amazing how simple and easy it is to adpot a ZW lifestyle and prgress from there. The joy of chemical free living is something I have been aspiring since a long time and am on the road to that.

      I grow some veggies and herbs in planters on my balcony and I cant tell you the joy of eating chemical free produce- its not too much but its a start.

      I would love to grow stuff on land and live there and enjoy it! As a child we all had this luxury – now its something only the rich can afford but even then its not favoured by all.

      InGurgaon, the authorities have started auctioning off agri land to be leased out by people like you and me; a staff will grown and cultivate seasonal produce and give it you when its ready- this is all organic/ without pesticides. I know some ppl who have jointly leased out land and doing this. I think its a wonderful initiative and maybe someday this tribe will grow by leaps and bounds.

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