Interview with Social Entrepreneur – Dipmoina Dowarah , who currently calls Majuli River Island his home.
Dipmoina Dowarah, born and brought up in Upper Assam’s Moran town, quit his corporate job without a second thought as he found his calling for something unknown that was lurking inside him. A post-graduate in Business Administration and holding a Bachelor’s degree in Physics, Dipmoina found his passion while wandering in the jungles and mountains of Arunachal Pradesh. He did his graduation from Sibasagar College at Joysagar in Assam’s Sibsagar district and completed his Business Administration from Nice Management College at Meerut in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
Dipmoina did a basic course in mountaineering from Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering and Winter Sports in Jammu and Kashmir, apart from spending time on his travel blog and publishing articles on adventure activities in national magazines.
Now a full-time entrepreneur, Dipmoina established Okegiga Homes in Assam’s Majuli River Island. He has also pledged to be an organ donor. Did I mention that Dipmoina finds solaces and an outlet in poetry too?The Tradition of Masks in Indian Culture: An Anthropological Study of Majuli, Assam
BTS: Hi Dipmoina, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Could you give our readers a bit of information about you, where you’re from, and tell us a bit about the kind of work that you do?
Dipmoina Dowarah: I am from a small town in Assam, Moran.
As of now, I am the Founder of Okegiga Holiday Pvt Ltd. established in 2017 with Madhumita Devi as the Co-founder. We own a resort in Majuli named Okegiga Homes and was in process of expanding it to other states and countries until the COVID -19 pandemic.
I am passionate for adventure activities, particularly in trekking to remotest and unknown places, something like -where no one lives, where a very few only have visited, which has many mysterious stories, etc. One can visit my site www.till60years.com to read about such kinds of treks I have already done. Trek to Athu Popu is the most thrilling and exciting adventure so far in my pocket.
I do many inquiries to find such places mainly in Northeast states, and I can say to find a place and to gather enough information it takes nearly a year. That is why I plan to do one unique trek once in a year. I wish to add something new to what I do, whether it is my resort or a campsite, or an event that I organize for a group of people.
I worked for almost 10 years in the corporate world and during that period I was somehow feeling a distance with my passion and from my inner call (to contribute to the society in my way). I quit my job in October 2013, and started the journey of an entrepreneur. Now I have my own time and mind. I started to work with my ‘passion for doing something new’ particularly in the field of Adventure and Travel (that I am engaged with presently).
I do not know why; maybe because I had a very close relationship with the nature in my childhood, I always feel the nature from within; always feel to give something back to nature, to the world, to the society. I use to experience an intense will of helping the needy, uplifting at least a single deprived life. Also, as I am sharing now, I remember, when I started my venture, I began to think right from the staff who worked with me on a daily wage basis only for a few bucks. I supported them whenever and whatever I could, out of the work- wage deal. From 2017, as my entrepreneurial journey is gradually being shaped into a more structured form, I could able to reach more people in a society or village offering support on need. Yes, of course, I appeal to other individuals and organizations to join hands with me.
I enjoy spending time more with Nature and I am lucky enough to have my space in Majuli.
BTS: You are now on a unique and purpose-driven career path. Can you tell us more about the formal education and experiences that have led you to this path?
Dipmoina Dowarah: As I already told you, about my formal education, but I cannot say that formal education and experiences did led me to where I am now. I am here because of my passion plus the kind of attitude,- “living with my terms”, (and honestly I do not know how I developed this attitude). But I would like to tell you this attitude is nothing to do with ego or pride; this is the force that reminds me every time to be confident on myself.
If you look at my education and what I do now, it is something unrelated. I graduated with Physics, thinking of that I will study astrophysics, but could not. Then I did an MBA( Master of Business Administration) and worked for the corporate only to discover that I am not made for the four walls of an office, sales, and targets. Then after 10 years, I left everything to become a nomadic traveler when I could identify my passion for Adventure and travel.
But my last certificate from ‘Jammu Institute of Mountaineering & Winter Sports‘, Pahalgam (J& K) as a mountaineer does match with my present. For me traveling is the Education and world is the School.
I do not know why; maybe because I had a very close relationship with the nature in my childhood, I always feel the nature from within; always feel to give something back to nature, to the world, to the society.DIPMOINA DOWARAH
BTS: Tell us something more about Okegiga Homes? And why did you choose Majuli River Island as your space?
Dipmoina Dowarah: Okegiga Homes is a unique kind of accommodation facility in Majuli, not from its physical structures and facilities only, but also the concept. The concept is very different from other existing resorts in Northeast India. And the target customer segments we are considering are very unique in their travel behaviors.
We have three kinds of accommodation facilities: Bamboo Cottage, Swiss Cottage, and Camping Tents. The bamboo cottages represent the local tribal houses. It gives the experience of living in a house made up purely from bamboo, roofed with hay straw, and walled plastered with mud. That is very rare nowadays as today’s houses are mostly of brick, sand, and cements. While the Swiss cottages and tents add the flavor of little of adventure nights. We also allow others to camp and cook with us.
Moreover, Nature is very close to Okegiga Homes, It has the river Lohit on the front while on the side you can enjoy the lovely wood. The morning comes up with the chirps of birds; one can view many species of birds in the woods and the river. The Sunrise is awesome from here. Besides, note that one cannot expect the luxury and comfort of a concrete house in our cottages.
It is not like choosing Majuli, but it is the Destiny that brought me here. One can refer to Okegiga Homes on Air BnB.
READ our other post where we review Okegiga Homes 14 offbeat accommodations in Northeast India
BTS: You maintain an online journal www.till60years.com. The name seems unique. What made you choose that name?
Dipmoina Dowarah: Thank you that you are finding it unique. The journal is a written document of what I do till I turn 60 years. I am looking at my life into two phases;- the one till 60 years of age and the other after 60 years. It is a general thought that until 60 years of age an average person can work, serve, and generally stay productive.
However, what is thereafter 60 years? For a payroll worker, he generally retires, for a businessman, he might be or might not be in an inactive role in his or her business. Moreover, for a sportsman, he or she even gets their retirement too early though he contributes after retirement in many different ways related to his field. A farmer gradually lowers his involvement in his fields and so as the situations for others too.
Everyone’s life is changed after 60 years. Moreover, the difference before and after 60 is prominent and sharp. Life after 60 years becomes more or less dependent on others (for most of the people) in one way or the other; less productive with restricted physical movements, the body becomes more vulnerable and prone to diseases and injuries. Hence, there is a common tendency in everyone’s mind to do whatever best he/she can do till 60 years of age; and so am I.
I too, as per my book, wish to do all the best things before I attain my 60 years; including all the daring acts and productive things, shouldering my duties and responsibilities.
However, after 60 years I have a different plan! I will be out for a world tour on the day of my 60th birthday.
BTS: You are involved with the community and you have made nature your partner. Do you think the modern breed of travel entrepreneurs in Assam swaying away from community responsibilities?
Dipmoina Dowarah: What I have observed over the period that the new generation travel entrepreneurs are more aware now. They exhibit more responsibility towards the community and to the nature. Have you ever noticed when a traveler comes to your place, stay few days and connect with the local people through some kinds works and service, how the local people get impressed and embrace the works/services of the traveler? If the same works/services are done by you and me at our respective places, the local people hardly get impressed.
Therefore, it is very important to have such kind of travelers at large. I particularly focus on these breeds of travelers who leave an impact on the place he visits.
BTS: You have worked extensively in Majuli River Island. What do you want the tourist to bring in and take back?
Dipmoina Dowarah: Majuli is an Asset for our State and the Nation and very few people at the chairs of power understand this. Until 4 years back, it was even never realized. But Majuli could draw the attention of the people from the other side of the globe, decades ahead. You know, the concept of resorts was introduced in Majuli by Europeans. The two oldest resorts/bamboo cottages in Majuli was built and started by them only and then onwards slowly and gradually the local youths started to think and involve professionally into it.
The class of tourists in Majuli is different. They do not come to experience modernity. They come to enjoy the peace, the greenery, the fresh air, nature, and the many centuries-old culture and customs. Majuli is far away from the chaotic lifestyle. Life here is simple and sweet. A considerable number of tourists come here to stay for long, even for many months. They know peace is here in Majuli. Every night the starry sky can amaze them. I can remember many things the guests shared with me with wow, and one such was like this,-“Dip, you own a sky! And, how great it is, you see the stars always.” I remember one German couple (the lady is a faculty in one of the IITs), who stayed for few nights with us, they switched off the lights in their room and stared at the sky till midnights. Most of the foreign tourists extend their stay with us up to many days. There are many such events with our tourists, which if I wish to share then it will be a good book to read, I think, and I am planning to write it soon. Therefore, you can clearly understand what people can take back from Majuli.
Regarding, what they can bring in, I always appeal to bring the good news and knowledge to us from your place. Share with us, and if you can- teach us what you know about any good thing.
Yes, I am not alone in the journey where I am now. You know destiny plays a mysterious role with us always.DIPMOINA DOWARAH has pledged as an Organ Donor and is advocating the same.
ALSO READ Cry me a River : Monks of Majuli
BTS: Travel seems to be restrained now and it looks like it will take some time to get back on its feet. What are your plans for the immediate future?
Dipmoina Dowarah: Yes, this pandemic has affected us in the worst way. As of now, we have to be focused more on local travel and local travelers. Our resources have to be developed in such a way that the locals can be attracted. Generally, “Self possessions are always undermined and other possessions seem better.” Now we have to nullify this concept. Our northeast might be in a better position, if we look into the resources and its virginity for promoting the local tourism. And as of the present scenario, our states are doing far better in controlling the pandemic.
What I think once the situation comes under control, we the people in the tourism of Northeast states should form a common platform to work fruitfully.
BTS: You surely have had some great people help you get to where you’re at. Whom would you like to thank?
Dipmoina Dowarah: Yes, I am not alone in the journey where I am now. You know destiny plays a mysterious role with us always. You cannot know when, how, and who will play what role in your life. Some will come for a shorter life giving you big blows, which will later appear as the blessings. Some will come for a longer time and share the pain you earn. It is indeed very mysterious. I always find my ways very mysterious. Though I wish to share a few names out of many who did play or plays an important role in my journey, I am waiting for the right time to speak. I have some plans for the future regarding these all. Here I just thank them all without taking the names.
BTS: What is the Goodwill Bank?
Dipmoina Dowarah: So far, helping and giving back to the society has been kept as an integral part of our company (Okegiga Holiday Pvt. Ltd.) Since the inception of our company, with our limited strength plus the supports of the well-wishers, we have been trying to reach the needy people.
On 24th January 2020, we conceptualize our social works as the “Goodwill Bank”. We highly encourage our guests who come to our resort in Majuli River Island to visit us and ‘please bring with you anything (if you are comfortable in bringing) that you wish to donate, and deposit with us.’ any time of the year and we will distribute those among the people who need most.’
Whatever I do, I always feel it is too little, and think of something bigger and higher. I have already pledged as an Organ Donor and I try to influence others for the same.
BTS: Finally, what are your expansions plans to over the next few years.
Dipmoina Dowarah: I would like to go global.
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