Tuesday, September 16

Couch Surfing

So here goes my first ever blog post.

I just read about couch surfing, and it's really an exciting concept.

There is a website called www.couchsurfing.com . You can register yourself there. Now what it does , or rather what you can do with it, is really interesting. It basically acts as a platform for all the 'couch surfers' (just like an ordinary social networking site, you'd say). But the adventure just begins with this website, at the point where it ends on other social networking websites, that's knowing new people all the way round the globe.

Okay, now one may be justified by asking 'What the heck is this couch surfing?' Actually it is a method of traveling.Now assume that you are on a vacation trip to Paris. Now as you don't know anyone out there you will obviously have to reside in a hotel, eat expensive meals and rent even-more-expensive city guides and then rely on them to guide you along the whole city. So is the traditional approach, adopted by the most of the travelers around the globe. Now before you ask, 'Now what's wrong with that?' let me tell you
   a) You have to spend lots of money, thus your tour is shortened.
   b) You can never have the 'real' feel of the culture of Paris.

That's where 'couch surfing' enters the scene. Actually being an 'couch surfer' you reside right at the house of some local family of Paris during your stay, of course with their prior consent, share their dinners and your memories at the dining table, and get a feel of the 'actual' culture.The best part is you can slash your expenses by a great deal and hence have a stay long enough. Some families may allow you to share their extra bedroom, some their guest room, some may even give you their spare keys, and some just a single crouch. That's why it's called couch surfing , because you don't expect anything more a single couch. However its not an all-expense-paid trip, you may bring some gifts for your hosts form India and present them at the end of your stay.

Too good to be true, ain't it? Enter scene 2. In order to get these astonishing benefits of couch surfing you have to offer similar services at your place. And believe me (although I have absolutely no experience of couch surfing, but still Believe me)  some times it's true fun, whilst an enriching experience at some other. In our sanskruti (culture) of "Atithi devo bhava" (Guest is God) it surely is an enlightening and exciting experience to host people from different geographical and cultural backgrounds all over the world.

So here the above mentioned website comes in handy. People who aspire to become couch surfers create an account there, they tell other people about themselves, their interests, hobbies, etc. And when they need to travel to any particular place they search for the registered 'couch surfers' in that region, find people who share similar interests and send them requests for seeking their hospitality. If the other-party finds them appropriate, it approves the request. Maybe you will get rejected several times before finding an appropriate 'match', no hard feelings, bro! And you can always link references on your profile of people you have hosted and/or resided with,  it always helps!

You would be surprised to know that according to wikipedia:

"The CouchSurfing project was originally conceived by Casey Fenton in 2000. According to Fenton's own account, the idea arose after obtaining an inexpensive flight from Boston to Iceland. Rather than stay at a hostel, Fenton randomly emailed 1500 students from the University of Iceland asking if he could stay. Fenton ultimately received over fifty offers of accommodation. On the return flight to Boston he began to develop the ideas that would underpin the CouchSurfing project."

Some fun facts,
  • It has 700,000 members across the 232 countries of the globe,
  • Out of them 6500 are from India.
  • It claims to have 30 million page views by July 2008. 
  • It's slogan is "Participate in Creating a Better World, One Couch At A Time"
At the end of the day (or, at the end of the post) I would like to conclude that it is a fast emerging trend among travelers, and I thought you (being my blog reader, few as they are) ought to know such kind of things. So are you ready for the 'Couch Surfing' experience?

PS: Do comment if you had any such experience(s) in your past!