Happy in My Skin

Consumer Voice - - C For Con­ser­va­tion -

In Hodka, in Kutch, we faced this chal­lenge quite early on. The men in the re­gion still wear their tra­di­tional dress (un­like much of In­dia which has moved to western trousers, a piece of at­tire to­tally un­suit­able for our cli­mate). When the Shaam-eSarhad re­sort came up, it was as­sumed that the staff would wear the tra­di­tional dress though it was not or­dered as a uni­form. With the first few ur­ban guests we had, we soon saw the staff com­ing in tight blue jeans and tighter t-shirts. We were in a dilemma. All of us women had moved out of wear­ing our tra­di­tional cos­tumes to adopt­ing the sal­war kameez of Pun­jab – how could we tell them that they could not change? We called a meet­ing of the tourism com­mit­tee to dis­cuss this. Af­ter much dis­cus­sion, the staff agreed that the guests were com­ing to this cor­ner of the globe be­cause there was some­thing unique here. It didn’t make sense to be ashamed of it and change to clothes that were any­way un­com­fort­able in the heat!

What I saw in that dis­cus­sion was that we needed to en­cour­age com­mu­ni­ties to be proud of what they had. If vis­i­tors find some­thing that they ap­pre­ci­ate when they travel, they should ex­press that ap­pre­ci­a­tion loudly and clearly – whether for the craft, the music, the dance, or the farm­ing – all skills that are taken for granted by both hosts and guests. How­ever, when guests try their hand at it, they re­al­ize the skill level that has been built up over the years even to make that sim­ple mud pot. There is a nat­u­ral shy­ness that in­hibits guests from prais­ing ex­per­tise when they

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