Summers had just begun. Dreading the heat and dust, I called a friend who is always doing something offbeat. She suggested a place in the hills where I could volunteer. That’s how I discovered PossiVille, a community farm-cum-backpacker’s hostel situated on a naked cliff in a village called Kumarhati near Manali in Himachal Pradesh, India.

The first sight of PossiVille had me awestruck. It stood by the road side with great pride; the highway rolling and stretching infinitely till the top of the mountains, and bunch of clouds of mists slowly passing by. Comparatively, the hostel wasn’t huge but seemed very much alive, as if playing to its own musical beats in the silence.

Inside, a cheerful man greeted me. Shubham owns the place and also looks after the volunteering part. After a little chit chat, I went straight to my dormitory and chose a bed right next to a huge window. The building stands atop a stepped farm, so the yawning ditch below can seem a bit scary, but the view from my window was breathtaking and refreshing. Also, because of the ditch it seemed like I was up in the air amongst the clouds, probably riding on one them and flying through the valleys. I spent my entire first day in just dreaming and sleeping.

Next morning when I woke up, all I could see was translucent clouds wandering around my room, as if trying to fill in the empty spaces. I felt like I was floating in heaven! After I was done stretching and washing up, I met three other volunteers who, unlike me, were on a yearlong holiday and a mission to tour extensively across India. Two of them – Shruti and Ricalrus had left their corporate jobs and were here to start their mission ‘Explore India.’ Akanksha, just like me, wanted to stay in mountains for a while and have fun.

Interestingly, unlike any other hostel volunteering, Shubham has a complete structure ready for a month-long engagement. Things right from cleaning, dusting, cooking, farming, guests handling are on the to-do list.  You can also work on your personal project, be it painting, woodcraft or writing. So Shruti and I became the kitchen bearers and were responsible for cooking meals for volunteers, till the end of the month. According to the time table, from morning till three in the afternoon, we engaged ourselves with allotted duties and worked on our personal projects. While we fumbled, we fell, we got muddy, we smiled, we laughed, and we weaved prized memories of our own, the first half always brimmed out with fun. The rest of the evening was left to us to do whatever we wished to.

It didn’t take me even a single day to settle down in this land of mountains and clouds. Soon, the scent of wet plants and the cold touch of freezing wind became a part of me. The locals out there in the villages quickly became good friends. Often, as a part of their daily greetings, we would get freshly plucked apricots, plums and peaches! Also, would you believe? Every morning we would wake up to the melodies of Yellow-bellied Fantails and Long-tailed Minivets.

Unfortunately, I had to cut short my stay at PossiVille because I got the news that my place in Delhi had been burgled. I wish I could have stayed at least for a month and collected many more memories. But whatever it was, those five days in PossiVille were unforgettable!

Text & Photos: Skand Agrawal