All given and said , the one thing that will matter in the end is….Did I follow my heart and chose things that made me happy , and …If I were happy, did I spread it across??
Well, I believe I will come to an end just exploring what I am looking for and yet will never find it.But in this journey called life , I will always be happy to meet more people like Hanif Bhai, who will keep my faith going that no matter what, someday ….. I will do what I actually believe in.
Green Arts Farms and Cottages , a name that will pop up the moment you type eco-friendly stays in Jaisalmer, is the resort run by Hanif Bhai.Ummm….let me not commercialise it by calling it a resort because its anything but a resort.Apart from being tagged as a super host, I was startled at the reviews this barren piece of land got on Airbnb and bookings.com.So without giving much a thought I did book 1 night stay at this place ,thinking I will keep it as a back up ( as it just costed me 999 for a night), if i still don’t get convinced with the idea of going for the commercialised desert safari resorts in the SAM Dunes by the end .
But once I was there, I still remember how proud I felt of not getting carried away by the luring advertisements and the mockery of some of the people I met in Gujarat and Rajasthan ,who said “SAM Dunes me book nahn kia ab tak???wahin to Jaisalmer ka main attraction hai” ~(You did not book a desert safari yet in the SAM Dunes,It is the main attraction of Jaisamer)
How To Reach??
The place is at Khuri , near to the Kuldhera Village (The famous haunted site of India) .Hanif Bhai also gives a pick up facility from the Jaisalmer city as his cottages are in very remote location.But since we were travelling by our own vehicle so we had to drive on our own using google map.But somehow Google map stops working reaching at a junction, so make sure to call him up to be guided in the most polite and righteous way.
Another way to find the way to his cottages is to ask people on the way “Hanif Bhai ka cottage kahan hai?“(Where is Hanif Bhai’s cottage?”) and such is his fame around that people will readily direct you, but his cottages are not something that will stand out in those remote villages of Jaisalmer , so its kind of difficult to spot it.Its just like another mud hut of the village , which actually makes the stay worthwhile.
What to do there??
“Baba , I want to stay here for a longer time !”
Yes ! that is what my 7 year old kid said .Neither did he have access to video games/TV/internet nor did he have any other playmates ,but yet he wanted to be there .I guess, with nothing else around to distract us , we tend to enjoy what is right there in front of us and that is so refreshing and cozy that we feel “This is all I need !” and hence want to belong there a little more time.
Correspondingly, the moment Hanif Bhai said “5-star resorts me reh ke desert feeling nahn mil sakta ” ,(You cannot get a desert feeling staying in the 5-star resorts) ,the feeling of pride creeped in yet again, for making this wonderful choice 😁😁.And , Indeed, from exploring the earthen life of the near by villages to having an open desert safari with Rehman Bhai under the stars(check out my desert safari experience here) , it was a desert feeling.
Hanif Bhai , did not get a chance to go to school while he was a kid, and yet he has visited Europe twice for business , knows more than 5 languages and has friends all over the world.He has passion for music and hence has a collection of instruments of different make and kind.
When all his neighbours and relatives mocked at him for making such mud huts for the tourists , he did not give up on his vision.Everyone who knew him said “Who will come to stay at your huts???” ,but I am sure they would have dropped their jaws when they would have seen the non-stop inflow of foreign tourists.In fact, when we reached there he said “How did you come to know about me?because only foreigner comes to stay at my place and they stay here for months “.On that I said “It seems I found you by hard core google search and luck” 🙂
To sit by his kitchen, listen him play a morchang ( a type of instrument played by mouth), and eat hot chapati and daal , is a total Jaisalmerishhh feeling.
He is also a palaeontologist and there are hundreds of fossils scattered beautifully around his place, that he collected while wandering in the near by dried up river beds .
Hanif Bhai is a man of vision who dares to live life on his own terms,
His dreams and aspirations are not chained by the hardships of his life, by the taunts of the people, by the pessimism of his family or by the dry and barren situations around him,
He is grace personified,
He lives the most simplistic life yet he is sophisticated by the choices he has made and most importantly….
He has stood by his beliefs ….and THAT… has made all the difference !