Gaurav is the inspirational figure behind The Folk Tales, which started in 2013 with the aim of offering travelers a chance to experience life in rural India by integrating tourism with socially and environmentally responsible initiatives at grass root level. Stays in local homestays which are self-managed by locals in diverse destinations from Rajasthan to Uttarakhand and from Punjab to Meghalaya, guests can now stay with locals and foster deep and meaningful connections with the local community.
1.Who you are (naturally!)
A damn lucky person. I have come out of some pretty tough situations before they happened. So, I keep my faith in future alive.
2. What inspired you to create your business?
A weekend holiday break from my desk job in rural Rajasthan. Village travel wasn’t well known back then. Homestays, storytelling experiences, cultural immersion were all alien terms. And travellers really needed all of it. After my trip, I felt that people of India in general are great hosts, all they needed was a support structure and some training to run small homestays and tours in their villages. We started as a homestay booking platform, but then moved on into running full tours. That way we could add more value socially, economically and environmentally to local communities. Second thing that inspired me was to earn my own living without having to depend on terms dictated by someone else in a job.
3. An anecdote which epitomizes your India?
Indians are driven by emotions, and everything has to be a movement here to become successful. Currently, the Indian environment and wildlife are going through a tough time. Its conservation has to become an emotional movement
4. One thing that you can’t live without?
People who have stood with me in this journey. Apart from them, there is nothing I can’t live without.
5. One thing that you hate?
6. If you could change one thing about India what would it be?
Population growth. It has to slow down and reverse.
7. Who is your greatest inspiration?
There are two. First one is my father, because of the big dreams he had. I inherit the same. Second one is my ex-boss from a corporate job. He tolerated me when I seriously under-performed and mentored me patiently – even when I resigned to start the company.
8. What is your favourite quote?
Thank you for all that I have.
9. I have noticed huge changes in India over the last few years but what is the biggest change you have noticed in India over the last 10 years?
People have now started to think differently as entrepreneurs. They are taking risks rather than following the usual path. This creates a positive environment (even though our media shows otherwise). The rat race or hamster wheel are no longer the only norm.
10. What do you think are the biggest challenges India faces over the next ten years?
Water and ever expanding cities. Water conservation is not rocket science. It needs to become a movement and people need to educate themselves on it. Reverse migration needs to become faster to reduce the pressure on cities.
11. Which is the destination at the top of your bucket list?
Not one country. But a motorcycle trip from India to London is at the top of my bucket list.
12. What is the one place you visited that you have NO desire to return to?
Hapoli. That’s one of the worst towns I have visited in Arunachal Pradesh.
13. Book or Movie?
I have been a book reader. But now I am more of a movie person. I like dark movies that don’t make it big on box office, but have very interesting stories.
14. Just for fun! I am doing a survey to find India’s most popular breakfast, what is yours?
Poha with lemon.
15. In retrospect, what is the one thing you wish you could have told your 20 year-old self?
Everything happens for good.