Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Have a Couch, Will Surf

Once in a while, I worry that I am turning New Age. Whatever that should mean. Alternative eco friendly organic and the rest of its sub-groups is where I seem to lean, once in a while at least. Maybe it a phase, like most things were.

While we are on that topic, I must tell you about Couch Surfing. I am told that it is rather New Age too. Wonder how and why it is classified so!
Anyway, I had heard of CS a long time ago and done my bit of surfing around the website. Then it so happened last month that the best girl friend Lizzie and I were to go on a vacation to Goa. Yes, I know what you are thinking....another of my never ending vacations!

After much holidaying this past year, I was predictably short on the crispy notes, so was she. Eureka moment happened then and one late night in Madikeri (vacationing at home!) I made myself an account on www.couchsurfing.org and added another word to the annoyingly long list of passwords I am supposed to remember. Too much, I tell you, passwords (and different ones at that) for every damn thing you do!

And so I surfed and got confused with the terminology there (as if walls and pokes hadn't bugged me enough: yes, I am whining!) and finally, long story short, I arranged to stay with this nice couple in Calangute. I thought they were old, they were not. Peter and Rosie turned out to be what I would say something of a New Age couple. They were extremely sweet, amazingly helpful and just really really nice people. We stayed about four days, drank copious amounts of lemon grass tea (where can I get a lemon grass plant in Bangalore?), cooked for them because we wanted to, went out, and generally had a great time. The best part? Staying with them was absolutely for free!

And that is why I recommend Couch Surfing if you are the sorts like me to either travel alone or in twos. It is NOT a dating site, not social networking either. Just that there are thousands of people in the world who genuinely want to help travellers who are on a budget. If you have extra space in your house, you can put up a profile and in case someone is passing by your town, they can write to you on CS and ask if they can stay with you. Up to you to agree or say no. If you cannot host them at home, you can also offer to show them around, meet for a drink/coffee, such like. It is the most amazing way to meet new people from different parts of the world.

Ma was of course extremely sceptic about the whole thing before we went to Goa. Lizzie was apprehensive and I admit, so was I. But it turned out great, we had a whole room to ourselves. Peter and Rosie were amazing. It is heartening to know that there is still goodness left in the world.

If you are travelling alone or with a friend and would want to save on money and meet someone amazing, check CS out. It is safe, the members are strictly monitored. The disclaimer remains though, you have to choose wisely who you would want to stay with or who you agree to host. I am a convert. Try it. Check details at www.couchsurfing.org

No comments: