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After fifteen years of successfully running Take 5 – a Portland-based banking and financial consultancy firm – Vinu Pillai felt like spending more time at home. It helps that his family home – the Red Hills Nature Resort – sits on a tea plantation in the middle of three lakes in the lush lap of a mountain top in Ooty.

“In 1991, my dad’s tea factory burnt down and to supplement the loss, our family home was turned into a bed & breakfast,” says Vinu over a telephone call crackling with static and songbirds. Now, Red Hills Nature Resort - elder sibling, quite literally, to Kikui Farms, run by Vinu’s younger brother - will host groups of people (at least four or five, we’re told) interested in a crash course in country life.

Vinu wanted to get his hands dirty again, “literally by rediscovering his passions of music, nature, woodworking and farming and sharing it through this place,” he adds. He hopes your sap will rise at what he’s making: a place that will allow the “inner lumberjack in you to step out and play in this workshop in the wilderness”.

Pew Pew, Chirp Chirp

Have you always wanted to build a yurt? Of course, you have. Say hello to Nathan Suitter, here via San Francisco to help you with this weekend project. Nathan has been a woodworker since the age of five, and even helped his father build their family home. Nathan will also be in-charge of Red Hills’s woodwork studio, where Vinu says he’ll be focussing on creating community furniture, “which means loves-eats not for two but even for three,” he helpfully explains.

His father Vijay Kumar, a three-generation tea grower, will lead tea-tasting afternoons that will start with picking the leaves, going through the whole process and finally drinking cups of tea overlooking the Emerald Lake. “My father’s quite the tea expert and while he isn’t known in the public sphere within the industry, he’s got some infamy,” Vinu explains. “And it’s quite a treat to have access to that kind of know-how.”

There are also opportunities to get in on the organic farming in their 80-year-old kitchen garden; trek atop the Red Hill, the third highest peak in the Nilgiris, which just happens to be in Vinu’s backyard; bird-watching and biking. “I’ve only just taken a deep dive into planning the events and want to do as much as possible because I want to share this experience with everyone,” Vinu confesses. “So, currently, we’re doing these events ad hoc for groups but will soon populate our new site (which will go live in a few days) with our list of events,” he assures us.

It’s getting hotter and hotter, so quickly round up all your friends with flannel shirts, and get some mud on them in this stunning, scenic setting. Otherwise, there’s always the WAXX Electronic Music Festival, which will be hosted here in September, where we will see “classical music from the East met electronica from the West,” Venu says. Better learn to pitch a yurt well in advance.

Getting there: Registrations for events at the Red Hills Nature Resort will be held regularly as well as tailor-made as per request. Call Venu on 9487954755 or log on here for more information.

This story was contributed by Joshua Muyiwa, a Bangalore-based poet and writer.

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