On 24 March 2020, all of India went into a 21-days complete lockdown. God’s own country was not excluded from the threat of COVID-19. From one day to the next, life in Thrikkaipetta as we know it was put on hold. The Uravu Bamboo Workshop closed its doors and guests were unable to visit our Uravu Bamboo Grove Resort. However, we prefer no to dwell on the negative, but to reflect on what this challenge has taught us about our actions and planning for the future.
Firstly, it taught us that many things we thought would be needed for a happy life, in fact, are not. Instead of going to the market, some of Thrikkaipetta’s residents set about growing their own organic food. Snehal, our architect, mentioned that she created a warm bond with her homestay hosts when she joined in to help plant micro-greens and vegetables around the house. Loucine, our intern from Switzerland, learnt how to cook some delicious Keralan meals. Situations such as the COVID-19 crisis can help us to remember the importance of family as we take the opportunity to share a nice meal together during the lockdown. People are also more considerate towards each other. On the way to the small groceries shop in the village, it is common to encounter a warm smile from another person. Sharing is also a keyword. Neighbours have exchanged milk, eggs, coconuts, jackfruits and many other products with each other.
In Kerala the government initiatives to provide the poor with food have been acknowledged as outstanding. Although challenging, it was effectively implemented. We are also very proud of various people and organisations in our broader network who have organised food for the poor and for migrant workers in many parts of North India. Unlike Kerala, their situation is and will continue to be very difficult. We would be happy to connect you if you would like to support their work.
Secondly, we have learned that tourism is a fickle economy. Therefore, it is important not to return to “business as usual”, but to reflect on and discuss a better and more sustainable tourism. Domestic and Slow Tourism needs more attention if we are to put quality above quantity in the future. This is a good time to promote more sustainable and community-based local tourism managed by the Indian population itself, while at the same time including the Sustainable Development Goals. Overall, it is important to recognize the growing need for an eco-friendly, sustainable tourism industry, which is linked to the climate movement and where the focus is more on small players who can make sure that the benefits, including financial benefits, are fairly disseminated within the community and lower economic levels of society.