The Safari Cafe & Homestay

In December 2015, my husband and I started a small cafe at the edge of Corbett National Park. Both of us are foodies who love to try new things but also appreciate the classics. As there are hardly any restaurants in Corbett, we saw an opportunity to start our own where we serve simple homemade cooking both Indian and International cuisine.

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A Swedish Mudcake (Kladdkaka). The name of our place is The Safari Cafe & Homestay and we are located at the edge of Corbett National Park in Dhela village.

At the beginning we thought it would be necessary to be where the crowd is to show our presence and become a success. During the initial year we quickly climbed to number one position on restaurants in Corbett National Park on TripAdvisor but we still didn’t feel quite happy over our location. The Dhikuli area of Corbett is filled with hotels and shops with a national highway running through it, which means the traffic can be quite noisy and disturbing.

After a year in Dhikuli, we had noticed that people don’t mind traveling that extra mile for good food and ambience and since Dhikuli area was not a place where one could get a feeling of tranquility and being close to nature, we decided to shift the cafe to our home in Dhela village. At the same time we decided to open up our home for guests and our homestay was born. We can now host 8 people comfortably at our homestay.

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The view of our homestay and cafe seen from the field in front.

We offer four clean and simple rooms, two bathrooms on sharing basis and a hot water shower. In every room there is a double bed and one extra bed. Depending on the season, there are fans and heaters available as well.

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Our four simple and clean rooms.

There are common seating areas both downstairs and upstairs. Upstairs is where we reside together with our three dogs Zuzu, Sheru and Bo and where the cafe is as well.

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The cafe upstairs.
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Seating downstairs.

We also grow our own herbs and vegetables. One of the things I always miss when being in India is freshly picked lettuce and other salad ingredients. So being able to grow it myself guaranties that is is as fresh as it can be! If needed, we only use organic insecticides as well.

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At the moment we grow onions, cauliflower, cabbage, green bellpeppers, green chillies, tomatoes, broccoli, beetroot, fenugreek, spinach,  lettuce romaine, lettuce lollo rosso and iceberg salad. On the herb side, we grow lemongrass, thyme, mint, marjoram, lime basil, sweet basil, holy basil, sage and coriander.

Another thing that I am very particular about is waste. As you who have been to in India know, there is trash everywhere, which is kind of unavoidable since there aren’t any proper waste management systems in a country of over a billion people. In the village there is no garbage collection so at home, we separate our own trash and take it to Ramnagar to a waste collection centre. Our food waste is composted, we have recently acquired a Trustbin and so far it is doing great. No smell and easy to maintain. We have just filled up our first batch of compost, so in about a weeks time we will know more about how it has worked.

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We separate our garbage into organic waste (food waste), Carton, Plastic, Glass and dry non-recyclable ( meaning wrappers, soft plastic, and other stuff that can’t be recycled). In addition, we collect separately our metal cans, lightbulbs and battery waste. Broken glass and ceramic is also collected and but into a separate bag.

So if you like food and are genuinely interested in wildlife and the environment and would like to learn more, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us!

 

Hope you enjoyed this little post about our place=)!

-Sofia

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Brünhilda The Sauna

The sauna is an integral part of the Finnish culture. In a country of 5 million people, it is estimated that there are 2 million saunas! Living in India, one would imagine that it would not be necessary to have a sauna (summer months in India can feel like a never-ending sauna experience in itself) but where we live in North India, temperatures can actually dip to almost zero degrees at night during the winter months.

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The exterior of the sauna. My twin brother said it reminds him of a “Faraday cage“.
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An electric sauna stove all the way from Finland!

As a wedding gift from family and friends, me and my husband were gifted a sauna! The sauna stove and stones came all the way from Finland (thank you sister!) and our friend Robert, being an excellent amateur carpenter, built the whole sauna himself. Of course, there were valuable inputs made by family and friends that improved it even further, but all the hard work of putting it together were thanks to Roberts arduous effort.

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The sauna seen from the inside.

The material used on the inside of the sauna is devdar wood (cedrus deodara), a species of cedar native to the Himalayas, which gives that exact woody fragrance you expect to have when in a sauna. In addition, devdar is rot-resistant so the sauna should survive the heavy monsoons.

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Traditional Finnish sauna handle on a non-traditional sauna surface.

The exterior of the sauna is quite unconventional but necessary because of environmental factors. During the months of February to April, we sometimes experience strong storms and the last storm took away the original sauna roof! So after much contemplating, we chose to go for a full-on aluminium exterior. Not only should it hopefully last through the storms, it also improved the insulation of the sauna. At the moment, the heat can go up to a blazing 95 degrees!

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Real sauna stones, scented oils according to different seasons that one can add to the water one throws on the stones and temperature meter.

The name of the sauna, Brünhilda, was given by Robert. Inspired by one of the characters from Quentin Tarantinos movie “Django Unchained” and thinking the name sounded “nordic enough”, the choice of the name for the sauna was made. Of course, Brünhilda is not a typical Finnish name but, in a way, that makes the choice of the name even more funnier. Perhaps, the sauna building being such a hybrid in itself (partly Finnish, partly Indian), why not name it after a germanic/norse and an Icelandic mythological character then? In addition, the norse meaning of Brünhilda is “Armored fighting woman”(source) which in this case goes well with the exterior of the sauna.

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The name Brunhilda also reminds me of the old Looney Tunes cartoon “What’s Opera, Doc” (1957) in which Bugs Bunny, dressed up as Brunhilda and riding a Rubensesque inspired horse, is being chased by Elmer Fudd in a Wagner Opera. Image found on the internet. 

If you are ever invited to participate in a Finnish sauna experience or just interested in knowing more about saunas, do check out the “This is Finland” article “Bare Facts of the Sauna“.

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The view from our terrace where the sauna is placed. A view made for sauna bathing breaks.

Do you have a special sauna experience to tell? Do leave a comment below and share your sauna story!

In the meantime, I wish you good löyly moments!

-Sofia

Welcome to Little Findia!

Hey there!

My name is Sofia and this is my blog, “Little Findia”! This blog is meant as a place where I gather all my write-ups, experiences and pictures about my daily life living in a jungle home at the edge of a national park in India. Many people ask about my everyday life in India, so lets hope that through this blog I will be able to share my experiences and daily life with others. I also look forward to connecting with other people living as “citizens of the world” in India or elsewhere.

Originally from the cold country in the north, Finland, I have been living in India since 2012, but have been travelling to India for different purposes since 2003. Although it has been 14 years since the first trip to India, the country still amazes me with it’s contradictions and colours. There is always something new to see, do and learn! Some of my interests include wildlife conservation, anthropology, design, responsible travel, sustainable living.

 

 

Hope you enjoy my blog!

-Sofia

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