400 Happy Ladakhi Homes, Thousands of Happy Smiles; Our Ladakh Story!
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“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give”
– Winston S. Churchill
For Tani, a local Ladakhi who had never seen the face of a book nor had ever peeped inside a classroom, these lines would have never made sense, neither would have that name made any difference. But that was his story a few years ago. Tani, who could not study because of his financial conditions and could not leave his homeland because of the sheer remoteness. Tani, who even in his wildest dreams could not have thought of doing the amazing work that he so much enjoys to wake up to every day now.
1. The Tani Story…
Our team met Tani while on the road, someone with no professional knowledge of working in the travel industry. But one thing that our team in Ladakh instantly recognized in him, he had great riding skills in the mountains. So, the team decided to work with him and he became part of the local Thrillophilia crew. From there on, Tani has learnt a lot and is now a co-leader on the numerous bike trips that Thrillophilia has sent on his way. He is now the bread-earner of his family and has found a purpose in life.
Tani and about 400 other Ladakhi families have somewhat similar stories to tell about the transformation that working, directly or indirectly, in the travel sector has brought in their lives. There is a reason that Thrillophilia sticks to its principle of empowering locals to deliver world-class service. And all together, there is a different kind of high and feeling of joy in teaching someone the necessary skills in management and watching them grow with us. This is what motivated us in contributing to one of the remotest societies in the country. And that is true down to even the smallest possible detail. In the past one year of 2017 to 2018, there have been more than 10,000 visitors that Thrillophilia has sent on the way to Ladakh. We specifically handed over the responsibility of all these people to the local Ladakhis, instead of the agents hailing from all different states except Ladakh. We together did break few things in the first few experiences, learnt, improvised, putting up effort day and night, and finally, these folks needed no more hand-holding. They were prepared to deliver services which would delight anyone. They learnt the valuable lessons of how important it is to follow processes and delight each and every customer.
2. The Local Impact
The personal touch of more than 400 families directly or indirectly involved in spreading smiles is the kind of difference that we have always wanted to make, and we have. And with so many travelers finding their second home here, the people of Ladakh have found a way to spread happiness and open their loving arms of hospitality to everyone who decides to come here. Talking about the monetary value of what these 10,000 visitors and thousands more before this year have created, Ladakh has garnered a revenue of several crore rupees from Thrillophilia alone. That is a significant amount that travelers booking through Thrillophilia have spent in their pursuit of the raw beauty of Ladakh. But what makes us proud in all this is that money has gone to light up the homes of the 400 plus families in Ladakh, to get their children the proper education and resources they need to face situations like Tani’s childhood, and to keep them motivated to do the kind of greater good that they are doing; by giving and making a life. This decentralization of the funds has made not one or two happy bungalows in the hills, but rather has gone to make a thousand happy cottages of the people involved in works with Thrillophilia, in the lap of the Himalayas, as mighty as the spirits of the Ladakhis.
The question in your heads would be “What did they do to boast of all this?”. To answer it, we took a long yet beautiful detour of avoiding the middleman agent and empowered the local by giving them the tool they required the most to make it all work; knowledge. The team at Thrillophilia taught the Ladakhis power of processes, time management, new aged tools, and use of new age technology, and the Ladakhis embraced it all like none other, handling such a large number of groups and travelers, creating bookings, getting the permits and permissions, and making sure that everything is planned with every pinch of detail. These people had the kind of resources that they needed to make it all possible on their own, but they had been missing on the highest potential of these, and the knowledge showed them the way of optimizing their output, and again reflect that in the experience that they were paving the path for.
The knowledge also brought about the wisdom of what delights and what are a big no even when dealing with difficult customers. The way to deal with customers, what products to use for presenting the best quality, ensuring comfort and gain success, and which ones to avoid, trying to zero down on the factors that would hamper with the happiness that they want to spread, all this has come to be because of the empowerment that learning and knowledge has brought in them.
3. Empowering Those Without Resources
Then there were people who wanted to walk with us but did not have the resources that they needed for the perfect execution. Thrillophilia brought to them the option of meting out the capital through advance payments and EMI options so they could garner better resources and join in on the joy ride of spreading smiles, including the ones in their families. The decentralized empowerment of the Ladakhi people has brought them up to par with the rest of the country, only with a much more magnificent scenery in the backdrop.
4. Education In Ladakh
And money is not the only contribution that Thrillophilia has made to Ladakh. We talked about education in Ladakh and bringing the Ladakhi people up to par, and so we couldn’t have left the most integral part of the life of a human out, that is their childhood. You see, that is where things didn’t work out for people like Tani. And that is why, Thrillophilia helped set up an entire computer lab in a school in Ladakh, so everyone can ride the wave of the “Digital India” dream. The impact that could create on the lives of countless Ladakhi children and adults is what motivated us to keep going and continue us on our path of the greater good.
Talking about the greater good, with the help of Project Milaap, Thrillophilia contributed solar lantern to over a 100 Ladakhis, so they could light up their homes and lives in the year 2016-2017. And the revolution is still going on as Thrillophilia continues on their commitment of the greater good by still associating with the project. In fact, you can also join in on this noble cause with us by taking up the initiative of donating a Solar Lantern to those who are in need by contributing here.
5. More Power To The Locals
And that is not where our contribution to the local society as a whole ends. For road trips and bikes trips to Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso, we avoided the choice of packed lunch or snacks, and instead chooses to take our travelers to the local food joints, thus helping these people in generating their own income and running their own households, and at the same time, providing our travelers the chance of tasting a bit of Ladakhi touch in their food. The love that has been poured into the food becomes apparent with the very first bite that you take and makes you relish in the hospitality that the Ladakhis have come to be known for now.
6. Helping the Ecosystem
And with this, there is another factor that comes into play, one which is a major concern for all the travelers and environmentalists across the length and breadth of the country; pollution. We strongly believe in zero carbon footprints trips and, a lot of times it’s practically not possible but we try to level up with each trip. When we say that Thrillophilia does not encourage bringing snacks and preserved food, that is because of the waste that all the packaging produces. Apart from empowering the locals, the major reason for promoting these local food joints is to maintain the sustainability that is the backbone of the Ladakhi Society. And that is one of the greatest reasons why Thrillophilia does not give their travelers packaged lunch to carry on their trips.
And this approach to sustainability furthers on to even include water. Instead of bottles of water which will eventually find their way into the environment, Thrillophilia themselves provided hydration bags to their travelers so they could drink water and keep themselves hydrated, and save the environment from the attack of the millions of plastic bottles. But that only reduces the deterioration of the environment, right? So to curb that, we started green treks all over Ladakh. We gave our travelers bags to collect trash that is accumulated and bring it all back to us in Leh, so we could dispose them off properly. Not just that, Thrillophilia even rewarded travelers who brought back more than 5 kgs each of trash. The motive, of not adding to the choking waste and reducing the amount of what is already there, is to create our own meaning of making life in Ladakh sustainable and contribute our small amount in saving the pristine beauty of Ladakh.
7. Of Travelers & Explorers
And that is what has created the kind of positive impact on the happiness of the thousands of happy travelers who have traveled with us to Ladakh. All of this and the fact that Thrillophilia maintains a team on the ground in Ladakh has made sure that all we leave behind in Ladakh are footprints and all we take with us are the memories.
Thrillophilia is far ahead of its competitors in Ladakh because we are not a tribe of aggregators, but the core belief we share is that of contribution. And we continue to do so, making our contribution and doing our bit in empowering and beautifying Ladakh, through all the ways possible and continuing to find new avenues.
But this resolve could not have been possible if it hadn’t been to all of our lovely, curious and adventurous customers because all of this would have been rather difficult without their contributions. For all of you who have helped us on the way of these immense contributions, we would love for you to know that it was you, our customers, who made it all possible, and so, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to all of you. And with all this continued love and care that we share for Ladakh, we assure you that this is only the beginning and there are many more great things that we will do to give back Ladakh more than what it has given us.
“To get the full value of Joy, you must have someone to divide it with”
– Mark Twain
And we decided to divide it equally with the Ladakhis and our band of explorers.