In August, I switched off from social media—a complete cleanse—by deleting all networking apps. I missed picking up my phone, but those 10 days of total Instagram oblivion slowed life down for me. Last month, I went one step further with a complete switch off at Phoebe’s Farm in Maharashtra. No network, no phone, no Instagram and no Googling UNO rules. The countless hours that I had on my hands were spent by going on walks to the river, playing with doggos, reading books by the pond with a cup of coffee, playing UNO and answering the ultimate existential question, “What am I doing with my life?”
Phoebe’s Farm In Khopoli, Maharashtra
Around 90 kilometres from Mumbai (two-and-a-half hours), Phoebe’s Farm is a seven-tent human-friendly pet resort. It’s bring your own pets here, or you can come and have a pawsome time with their 120 dogs. Before the host Manoor Sachdev welcomes the guest, his friends Pandriya and Cherry are in the receiving line to bring you in–they were the cutest personnel I have ever met in the hospitality industry. Even if you’re cautious around pets (as I am), there’s no reason to feel uncomfortable because the animals on the farm are more well-mannered than many people I’ve met in the city–so genteel, so warm, so sweet. You’d want to rub their bellies, if they humour you.
Sophie, my friend’s indie who was travelling with us, has known all of them from previous several trips, but she played coy initially and set herself outside the tent. The seven tents, all side by side, are functional–with a verandah to listen to the roaster in the morning and sip your morning cuppa that Mama brings, an en suite bathroom, and a room with a double bed. You’ll not be roughing it out here, that’s for sure, but I wouldn’t go expecting a Taj Safari experience. It’s earthy, simple living with lots of avenues to enjoy nature. I highly recommend going down to the river–there’s a direct way through the property–with your pets (or with Pandriya and Rocky as your escorts). I learnt how to bounce rocks in the river and it’s my top accomplishment this year!
The farm experience is all about the animals. From your first meet-and-greet with the house pets (beware of the Great Danes, they drool!) and running around in the garden tossing balls, to playing fetch in the pool with the golden retrievers–it’s a joy to see them in action, no leash. Manoor is an animal behaviourist and most of the animals (dogs, donkey, emu, goat, cats) are rescued–they were either abandoned by their owners or have been wounded in the wild. Phoebe’s Farm also shelters pets if you’re travelling and you can adopt from here as well. Come here to interact with pets, to meet dog lovers, to cut off from city life and to challenge Manoor in a game of cards (or UNO). It’s an all-inclusive property, so there are no hidden charges. Just make sure you bring your own booze and fill the reservation form with as many details as possible about your and your pet’s dietary restrictions. Everything else will be all taken care of!
A true blood city slacker, I surprised everyone by waking up at 6 am automatically with the rooster’s crowing and charged at the day, without my phone. It came out only when I had to click pictures of the adorable doggos around me–lounging, napping on the table, swimming in the river… On the second day, on our search for network for a work call, we parked by the riverside about 10 minutes from the property and that’s where I was jolted out of my facile city existence.
Sitting on a bridge, watching the bends in the river, listening to swish of leaves with the breeze, following the ripples in the water—nothing felt impossible. I was in the centre of that bridge, not quite at the edge, trying to find a comfortable position on the cemented path. AirPods on, AirPods off. To the left, a farm. To the right, the road. Waters at the back, and in front. This is where I am in my life right now—somewhere in the middle of nowhere. But in those few minutes, I felt centered. I may not know where I’m going, I may not be walking straight to the destination, yet there is time for detours, for changing paths, for losing the way and finding it again.
Looking for a getaway from Delhi and all its pollution? Check out Ramgarh in Uttarakhand.