by Simrit Malhi
When I first quit my job in Bombay and realized my true purpose lay far away from the craziness of the city, I was excited but still a little anxious. I knew I needed to be out in the great fields and farms of the country; that hard work, fresh air and healthy food was what I needed. But where to find it? For all practical purposes I was still a city-bred PR professional with no experience in farming whatsoever.
MY first WWOOF experience was, however, incredibly easy to come across and arrange. I stumbled onto the concept of WWOOFing on the internet and felt very lucky when I realized that WWOOF India had only just started that same month. Within a few weeks, I was being driven down from the airport to the eco-resort which was to be my home for the next three months. I immediately connected with Phil and felt safe and confident about my decision to go there. My hosts went out of their way to make me feel at home – I was given a scooter for travel, a home of my own a little away from the resort and a tiffin for my dinner every evening. It helped that the food was amazing and that there was another volunteer living with me (whom I am still very good friends with).
After a day or two of rest, I was put to work. Since it was an eco-resort and worked only seasonally, everything had to be started from scratch. I was put in charge of the landscaping, upkeep of the gardens and of planting the new vegetable gardens for the kitchen. As time went by, I started doing other odd jobs – eventually helping out with construction (using only natural materials), putting up the tents – even making paper lamps! The work was fun; I enjoyed getting my hands dirty and learnt a lot through real practical experience. I would work during most of the day, with a break for lunch, and leave at sunset. I do think, however, that it might be a good idea to discuss your timings with your host before you arrive. I did feel a little uncomfortable asking for a day off and verifying my hours.
Anyway, after the initial month – things got easier as the resort started getting guests. I got my own gorgeous bamboo hut to live in (in the shape of a ship, with its own sunset deck upstairs!) and could avail of all of the facilities of the resort. I could eat off the menu and use the swimming pool in my time off. All in all I had a great experience; I am still in touch with my hosts and will continue to share a special bond with them. I also learnt that most hosts open up their homes to give someone else a chance to learn, rather than really needing the extra help. I know for sure I wasn’t the best gardener ever and made many mistakes, but I was always encouraged and supported. I am aware that not all WWOOFing experience can ever be the same, but for sure, you will come away having gained many new experiences…I learnt enough to be confident of my new job of managing a farm and home stay in Kerala! I eagerly look forward to my next WWOOFing experience and would recommend it to anybody interested in taking care of this wonderful planet of ours.
For more information on WWOOFing in India and joining visit www.wwoofindia.org