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When all trees have been cut down, when all animals have been hunted, when all waters are polluted, when all air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money. - Cree Prophecy

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hats off Roy!

Roy Jacob, our protagonist, was born & brought up in The US of A!. A texan to the boot, till 5 years back that is, Roy was a happy 2nd generation (or 3rd?) NRI, happily working in some IT dept as a consultant at Enron (where else can the contradiction dawn- to make it a perfect switch?) Roy was interested in Gandhian philosophies and was an avid reader of anything to do with Gandhi. Slowly reality caught up. Firstly he was not very happy with his chasing money life style and then the controversies & contradictions of the US polity & ofcourse Enron’s role in most parts started hitting. Then the Iraq war was the last straw as roy started thinking, is he after all supporting some 1000s being bombed at some other part of the world. So he quit, came to India and visited many places associated to Gandhi like wardha, Gandhi institute, auroville & other ashrams .
Then he wanted to live close to nature, live of his own work and most of all lead a very simple Gandhian life. Now this word Gandhian has become an adjective by itself for a frugal, simple, eco-friendly, truthful way of living- what ever one’s view of Gandhi is.
So our hero decides to live off a small piece of land. After a good hard training in a 3 cents piece he buys a 20 cents piece of land at Wayanad and settles there. For an idea, 100 cents is one acre, so this is one fifth an acre. There he constructs a small hut/house for himself. When I say constructs, its literally! He got help only for some intricate parts like the foundation and cross beams(?) of the structure. Rest all was hand made by him. So he is one person I know who can claim “I built a house”. He has this cute small hut with a small cute bedroom too in that! (see the foto!) He parades me in there with such pride and shows me the bedroom saying he wud sleep over that room in summer and inside in winters! Then there are the functional windows that would open out from the main wall which is ofcourse bamboo and such like. A nice earthen and natural house. A small stove on the ground (see if you can make out the stove adjoining the bedroom wall in that foto?) where he cooks his own food.
So what of the raw materials for his food?
He farms himself. Ofcourse organic! In the remaining place of the 20 cents our man performs agriculture. He grows his own rice, vegetables, tapioca etc. rarely he buys from outside. Many days he just lives on jack fruit.
In essence he lives off his small piece of land, literally.
He tries out various styles in his farm and by now has accumulated so much of knowledge on organic farming. He prepares his land himself. Plants and transplants all alone. De-weeds, maintains, waters, harvests – hey everything on his own. I even feel tired thinking and typing this:-)
He spoke of danger and other Nitrogen fixing plants (like cow pea, soya,, sun hemp) which is what he had now. Also about his trial of Fukuoka method of sowing along with a harvest! (remember clay balls – fukuoka style?) Now he would immediately sow/transplant 3 traditional varieties of paddy that will see him thru the next few months and take care of his rice needs the rest of the year!
When I asked him if it wouldn’t be boring he said “ infact a regular office work or an agri labour job could bore. Here I have to explore and experiment regularly. Each day is new and challenging. The minute I think its boring I have plenty of option to switch over to another task For eg if deweeding is boring, I can immediately think of watering, mulching or something else. Its co-creation with nature. Exploring is the order of the day. Its fun. You never get tired of it”
Phew..aint that too much?
Iam amazed at the knowledge he has amassed and the ease with which he states lotsa facts. To think that he was born brought up in plush western conditions without even an idea of how and where farming is done! Most importantly there is no air of achievement or cockiness but just matter of fact statements. So cool and admirable guy, this Roy! Hats off to him. Iam so happy & glad I visited him, his farm and the farm house(!) at wayanad!

Another day I shall post about his tribal neighbours, the small theft that happened and his next plans now.

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