Farm Living | Home Schooling | Un-complicating Life
The Story In Short
Year 2001: A boy born in the late 1970s married his college days’ sweetheart and they lived happily thereafter. Both of them had done well as students and as was the norm, got into stable jobs, were well poised to belong to the elite upper class of Mumbai. He worked with a bank, she with a government research institute. Life was set; better than what they would have dreamt a few years back.
They were not alone though. It was a generation of boys and girls, who had accomplished great deal. Numerous moved from humble middle class childhoods to upper class by their early 30s. Their part of India was shining
Year 2013: A few years later, the boy and the girl, were now parents of two kids. They became greedy for more and better in life. They visualised a future brighter - brighter than belonging to the urban elite, living in the posh societies, owning houses and cars. The lure for the brighter future took them to a life close to a forest, thus pulling them out of a secure job and predictably 'successful' life.
It was a road less travelled, but what care they had? They could hardly see beyond the common sense it seemed to make. They moved out of Mumbai to live on a remote piece of land further even from a village, where the neighbouring family stayed 3 km away.
They’d met a group of angels, who had the complete knowhow of ‘living in harmony with nature’. The angels were great friends, who knew that the ways of the world were unsustainable for the planet and to its inhabitants. They knew how farming should be done, how education should be imparted, how relationships should be maintained and how communities and countries should be governed. They were proponents of an alternate lifestyle. They had all the theories.
But they also had justifiable reasons why they couldn’t live their theories. They had to bear with the ugliness of the world because their wives refused to accompany them or they had responsibilities in that ugly world. All they needed was someone luckier than them, who could do all that they couldn’t. They needed a few, who could live the lives they were dreaming of.
For us (the boy & girl of 1970s), it was yet another dream fulfilled. What more could we have asked for – A group of angels, who were so welcoming and so encouraging. We decided to give it our best.
We adapted to the life in the wilderness, to the romanticism of sleeping under the stars, of seeing children roam in the forest without a care of the world, of breathing fresh air and drinking spring water. But all the romanticism faded in about a week. We cooked in smoking chulhas, managed with just enough electricity to charge mobile phone and laptop, worked with more physical strength and stamina than we had.
In hindsight, it was a tough life, but in those moments, it wasn’t so. We built a house of stones and mud mortar. There were moments of doubt, but we gave each other the strength and the assurance that this too shall pass. It was a small price for a transition so smooth. Soon, we would be settled – living a better life, growing our own food, milking our own cow. Thanks to the angels, we did not have to buy land. They understood it perfectly well that ownership is an illusion. In complete trust, we built our house on the land, which they said belonged to ‘commons’. Of course there was mutual trust and it was meaningless to have a government seal on the agreement.
Soon enough however, the angels realised that we’re not living as per their manual of ideas. We were not looking at them for guidelines. We were not fulfilling their dreams. They couldn’t even find anyone else to toe the line. We no longer fitted their bill. So, they decided to chuck us out – they’d never forgotten that they were the owners of the land and therefore continued to hold the reigns. Our pleas reminding them of the agreement of commons fell on deaf ears and turned faces. We had to leave. The transition wasn’t complete.
It was then that the real transition began. The kids (who were now 7 and 4) and we lived out of the car, travelled thousands of kilometres and lived a few months here, a few there to evaluate which place suits us. Climate, rainfall, proximity to a city, access to road, ground water, soil quality and a plethora of other parameters were part of our thoughts and discussions. We made many friends on the way. In hindsight, we thoroughly enjoyed this journey, but back then, the anxiety of finding a place to settle in never allowed us that comfort.
Year 2016: Coming out of the flashback, the transition is now done. It has happened after another year of very hard work, anxious moments accompanied by a renewed family bonding (including our parents and siblings). The transition is deemed completed after building a spacious mud house in a 2 acre land purchased from a good friend. Buying land was never required, but the experience with the angels of the earlier place compelled us.
Act 1 of the play appears to be over. All that has been accomplished is a roof over our heads. In the process, the four of us have acquired the skills to live and live happily on a farm land, away from the city we’ve grown up in. In a brief story, it is a small milestone, but in real time, it has been a lifetime of experience.