Back in 2005, I couldn’t resist the urge to capture this click with my Tibetan host. Needless to say, it was the days of KODAK films. We decided to spend a night in a super basic guesthouse in Chyiu Gompa near Lake Manasarovar in Tibet. My friend Shambhu and I were on a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash but we were not in the best of healths due to the acclimatization challenges.
As we looked out for a shelter, we came across a humble guesthouse where we found our Tibetan host to be very kind and hospitable although his outer appearance could have painted a very different perception. He welcomed us with a genuine smile and made us feel very comfortable. We were served with free flow of Tibetan butter tea and a nutritiously minimalist dinner that evening. Guess what, we felt much better the very next morning as we were ready to head towards Mount Kailash.
His warmth, hospitality, and genuine smile felt truly precious. Though I was hesitant about the decision at the first glance of the room with earth packed floor; on departure I was glad that we chose to stay there. It was his humane touch that turned the basic accommodations into a real luxury. Though our communication was limited to a few sign languages and a number of translated dialogues through our Tibetan guide, the lack of words was really overlooked as we communicated in a more heartfelt manner.
Fast forward 16 years whenever I recall Kailash trip, it refreshes my memory and gives me vital nourishment. Perhaps it was my good karma to have landed in his guesthouse and first handedly experienced the true spirit of hospitality.
“You are not your body, and hairstyle, but your capacity for choosing well. If your choices are beautiful, so too will you be”Epictetus
The above lines by Stoic Philosopher remind me of the secret behind the great host of Chiyu Gompa. He didn’t go to formal school; neither did he attend any fancy pieces of training but he was able to share genuine happiness with his guests because he had an abundance of goodness within. I couldn’t believe more than that great hospitality starts from one’s mind, hence nurturing the mind positively is the starting point of fostering sustainable tourism.
‘You can’t give what you don’t have. Be happy before you share happiness with your clients’. As the world is looking forward to restarting tourism and cater to travelers after pandemics. Today the insights by the great host of Chiyu Gompa will be even more relevant as travelers can still feel genuine hospitality despite maintaining social distancing and safety protocols.
Aside from a deep sense of gratitude, a pilgrimage to Mount Kailash taught me profound insight into life. I will ever remain grateful to the great host and the opportunity to travel the mystical land.