Roads were made for journey and not for destination.
This featured article is maybe a story but with a different viewing lens-it’s simply a symphony. A symphony for those whose motivation is travelling. A few unbarred souls who burn with a zeal realising there’s so much more to see and explore outside the world of their 9-5 jobs. Then you should learn about the symphony herself – Mansi Sheth. She had already met some amazing people on offbeat destinations and she wanted to meet more. She started travelling solo up north with no plans and no agenda when epiphany struck.
“I started a hostel with a friend (Pareen Lathia), who I met due to travel, last year. We wanted to meet people from different countries and cultures and live a peaceful life outside of hustle and bustle of Mumbai. So we quit our high paying jobs and left for Goa with no backup plan. It was our dream to start a place for crazy people, a place where everyone is happy. So we started Happy Panda Hostel. In the ten months that we worked on it, we had a blast, learnt so much, made so many amazing friends, met people from over 40 countries, over 1000 guests, highest rated in whole of Goa, but more importantly, built a place where you could see smiling faces all around” said Mansi.
She had to face quite a few daunting challenges because she came about setting up the hostel. As, they were working in a relatively small village; things were very difficult there as compared to a city. They didn’t have any kind of help building the place up as they didn’t have any architects, interior decorators or any kind of skilled labour and things like Internet, water supply were a challenge. Her learning curve came through the challenge of maintaining good quality of hospitality in such an area.
“I think the key is to have the passion and interest to learn. When you a building a dream, challenges become fun because each one gets you closer to what you want to achieve. We learnt everything ourselves and built it with our own hands. We got the tools and cut bamboos to make the fencing, we painted the walls, and we got recycled wooden pallets to make seating. All of this we learnt from YouTube or from some friend in Mumbai. We learnt how the drainage system works there, how electrical phases are set up and how the local panchayat works”, replied Mansi when she was asked about her own methods of overcoming her challenges. Their primary objective was to keep the guests happy and this worked wonderfully in their favour. As, the number of the guests multiplied. They kept on getting good reviews as people were happy and they started recommending it to others. In no time, they were sold out.
Her childhood was a struggle because she had no one to feed her with the silver spoon. She had to learn to work hard at a very tender age and become independent. She had to work two jobs to pay for her own college. She wishes that only if, she could have had more time to have fun with her friends. But, she had to support herself and this has lead up to the person she is right now.
Mansi doesn’t believe that she is at a right stage to give advices. Although, she admits that her biggest learning from happy Panda is that if everyone (all the stakeholders) are happy, then it is bound to succeed. If money is the only motivation, then you need to do something differently.There have been so many problems building this place. But every time I got tired or disappointed, I would sit and watch the happy faces around, in our hostel. That is what keeps me going. It is also important to have the right co-founder, I was really lucky. When things go completely wrong, all you do is look each other and smile or just have a drink together. And as Dumbledore says “Happiness can be found even in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light “, says Mansi.
Her favourite quote is “Those who do not believe in magic will never see it”. She finds J.K Rowling to be her source of infinite inspiration. During this entire hustle and bustle, her business philosophy is been simple “If I am not enjoying it, if people around me are not happy, there is no point in doing it”
Storified.me applauds her spirit of differing from others and the same time being unapologetic about it. We hope that Happy Panda becomes a symbol of serenity just like Mansi.