Living in abandoned factories and farmhouses made the Gandhi fellow realise the importance of reusing things. This was the genesis of a hostel in Bangalore made of reusable things, with a green heart.
The brainchild of Rajat Kukreja, a 26-year-old Delhiite now settled in Bangalore, Cuckoo Hostel has been built in just 20 days, thanks to the combined efforts of several young people who chipped in by painting the hostel, creating bookshelves out of old shoe racks and even getting books for the library.
During his stint as a Gandhi Fellow and educational consultant, Kukreja gained valuable insights into human habitat . “While working in the interiors of Rajasthan as well while assisting former war journalist Shubhranshu Choudhary to train tribal journalists in the Maoist regions, I was living in abandoned factories and farmhouses and that made me realise the importance of reusing things. I also realised how little attention is being paid towards being eco-friendly, especially among young urbans,” says Kukreja.
Initially, when he moved to Bangalore, Kukreja was working with an NGO dealing with issues such as skill building. It was an interesting job but he couldn’t imagine being confined to a desk. So, he decided to start hosting travellers in his small flat. “I met many interesting people from various parts of the world. We chatted about several issues including politics. Based on those interactions, I decided to start a hostel where people could come and interact with others and even learn a thing or two without spending much,” says Kukreja.
A young design student whom Kukreja hosted helped him implement his plan while the Internet provided them clues on reusing materials. As word spread about the venture, Kukreja was pleasantly surprised to see the number of volunteers coming forward to help them. “It was the perfect example of community energy,” exclaims Kukreja.
Since the idea was to reuse as much as possible, so beds were made out of industrial packaging, they gnarled the new government electrical factory sale and bought a whole bunch of lockers, bookshelves and other fittings from markets across the country.
Some friends also donated chairs and cupboards. A few youngsters, who were in Bangalore for some hours before leaving for Kodaikanal, chipped in by making a table. Another friend drove all the way from Mysore and brought in a lot of books with her.
The hostel has a terrace garden where Kukreja plans to grow vegetables in used tyres. He also plans to offer paintings for sale by local artists and even save the travellers from the crazy Bangalore traffic by offering them cycles to move around.
The hostel that opened to travellers a few weeks ago in the Garden City’s Koramangala neighbourhood, has been painted in vibrant shades of white and yellow. It offers a library and a jam room too where guests can converse, read and even attend workshops that Kukreja wants to start soon besides being entertained by him as he is training to be a musician too.
As for the rooms, there are three dormitories – one for females, one for males and one mixed. They offer bunk beds as well as private rooms too and the cost for them is Rs 399 (dormitories) and Rs 699 (private room). A person can stay for a maximum of 45 days and 18-20 guests can stay at one time.
The reason why Kukreja calls it Cuckoo is because the idea of being creative is central to the hostel. He doesn’t mind being ‘a little mad about things.’
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From HT Brunch, September 4, 2016
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