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  • Writer's pictureThe Feminist Times

Naani’s House

In frame: Laxmi aaji

Away from the hustle-bustle from the city, Laxmi Ammal (90) & Kasturi Sivaraman (72) have created a sanctuary to help people experience and appreciate the simple pleasures of life.

In frame: Laxmi aaji and her daughter Kasturi aaji

Summer vacations tend to bring a whiff of nostalgia along with them, of all the time spent at your grandparent's home, eating scrumptious homemade food, getting pampered, playing outdoor games, - far away from the fast paced, deadline chasing environment of the city and its people. A homestay called Pico in Tamil Nadu will take you on a trip down memory lane. Just two hours from Chennai, a homestay run by a mother-daughter duo—Laxmi Ammal, 89, and Kasturi Sivaraman, 71— in Rettanai, promises plenty of stories and farm-fresh food.

It was during Covid when people were grabbing any chance to visit a calm place that was clean and green, that the Ammal family thought of starting a homestay that provided all of this. Sivaraman’s son, Kiruba Shankar, slowly expanded their farm from a two-acre property to a 13-acre one, and began harvesting crops bringing back the greenery. One might assume that Shankar’s mother and grandmother would have needed some convincing for the homestay, however in reality they both jumped at the opportunity - since they wanted to build and run something of their own for a very long time.

'Initially, creating awareness was the challenge. While we had a beautiful farmhouse on a 13-acre lush green farm, people did not know it existed. Thankfully, the initial set of guests who discovered us started to post pictures and reels on Instagram, and the word started to spread. A couple of reels went on to garner 5 million views. Many wanted to see a 90-year-old grandma's business succeed, and they wholeheartedly shared this info in their network. Slowly but surely, purely by word of mouth, the farmstay business started to grow.'

Laxmi and Kasturi are the living example of the testament that there’s no age to start something, to live a dream. Since they started in 2021, the two have hosted over 200 guests, cooking farm-fresh food and offering guests the best of village life. “It gives me immense happiness and satisfaction when people get to experience the local village life,” says Laxmi aaji. “And even though it can get physically draining, our energy is replenished when we see people happy.”

When asked about the role the men in their lives have played in facilitating their dream, we were told that Lakshmi Aaji's son-in-law, Sivaraman (73), helps with all logistics. He understands that the entire farmstay business is the vision of the two ladies (his mother-in-law and his wife). He prefers to stay behind the scene, helping both the ladies succeed. Lakshmi Aaji's grandson, Kiruba Shanakar (49 years) helps with digital marketing for the farmstay.

The homestay that sits on 13 acres of land surrounded by orchards and paddy was built entirely by the family. With Shankar and his father designing the house, with the help from local masons to his two daughters working on the interiors, to Laxmi and Kasturi running it - one can easily feel love and the warmth and simplicity of home here.

Book a trip to this lovely farmstay here:

In conversation with Shankar, Laxmi aaji and Kasturi aaji

by Kuhu

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