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The sad & happy tale of Gilhari & Tithayari

I wish to share the duality together. Sadness and Joy together. Two stories so interwoven, almost representing our entire life. As most prefer, the happy tale first…

Rewind, almost 10 years back, with my back pack , I walking to this farm from the mud road passing through the nearest village. As I walk past the village temple, my path is crossed by a nimble squirrel. I am mesmerized. That was the closest encounter to a squirrel in my life. For in city, the sight of most of the farm / wild animal is rare , forget about close encounters. I stopped and watched the busy squirrel jumping swiftly from one branch to another till she disappeared into the bushes.

Squirrel drinking water from our well…

I continue my walk and soon reach the farm. As i start living at the farm, my eyes were looking out for squirrel. Inspite being so close to forest, even common birds, animals werent’ here. This farm was under chemical cultivation and hardly any trees around.

Years pass by and from last year onwards ,finally squirrels and a lot of beautiful birds have become a common sight. Fireflies which are rare in the villages nearby are in good number at our farm.

Squirrel on a coconut tree next to our home.

Similarly we also have a good amount of trees in the farm. Some big, some small , some growing well, some stagnant and we continue to grow more trees. As a rule, no tree that grows on itself by nature is disturbed or uprooted unless it is absolutely necessary. Thus we are adding few trees every year to farm, nature is adding way more trees to the farm.

We grow some trees, nature grow many trees…slowly trees are visible in the farm…This is peek summer..

So, that was the good news. It gives us a feel that things are improving at farm, we have some positive contribution to the whole ecosystem……hopefully….Feels good !

Now the other news ! The sad part.

The story is recent, few days back. We are constructing a new building to be used as an alternative learning space for children and youth, for which we needed some mud to be do the filling. We hired an earth mover, few tractors to dump soil from our lake to our site. The lake was kind of dry by now. Our friend, new team member, Kishlay was supervising the lake area work while I was at the building site. I went back to the lake area just to see the progress of work and I see Kishlay amidst machines in the lake nervously looking around. Parallely , I can hear shout of two birds (Titahari or Red-wattled lapwing) . Kislay shouts ,which is heard barely due to sharp sounds of those two birds and the loud noise of machines – “Bro , this bird had two small chicks, just here…but I can’t see them anymore…” Oh ! Now, we knew the mommy and daddy birds were frantically running around to save their chicks as their nest on the ground was destroyed by some machine passing over it. Few minutes later, Kishlay is waving hands very fast as if he wanted me to come immediately. I reach and we spot a chick crushed totally , broken into pieces like glass and one chick lie next to it alive. The sight was disheartening for both of us. We immediately too the other chick that was alive and parked her safely next to a tree and within few minutes the father and mother bird found her. However, the scream of birds continue. Hovering over the dead body of the crushed chick , picking up the pieces one by done and then dropping it when they realize that it’s dead. The birds continued to scream and shout for almost 2 hours ! We had no option but just to witness the whole thing. The machine folks called us and we had to soon get busy with work. Kishlay stood with wet eyes saying his favorite phrase for a situation like this ..”Sad life ,bro”.

This is just one instance where we could see the damage we are causing. Imagine all such violence we might be involved in due our activities !

Frankly , can we really answer if our coming to this land has a more positive impact or a more negative impact ? Perhaps, best is to leave nature alone and integrate ourselves within the nature without majorly modifying any of it. Human beings have become very violent towards nature. Some violence is evident, most is not.

A Lapwing (Titharayri) – making warning or Alarming sound when they spot some danger to their nest…

Nevertheless, we continue to live at farm and learn. Community is slowly growing. Few new initiatives are on the cards. Life is beautiful and I am grateful.

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Something is brewing…

People are coming, people are going…

Trees are fruiting , some trees are dying…

Children are growing, my hairs are graying…

New friends are in making,

Habits are breaking,

Silence is deepening, chaos is increasing…

Fireflies are flying, butterflies are following…

Some walls are cracking, new houses are building….

Jungle is falling, spirits are rising…

Old friends are calling, some old friends are dying…

Sunsets are calming, Sunrises unsettling ….

Stars are gazing, skies are smoking…

The world is changing , the world isn’t changing..

I’ve no idea, what’s exactly happening !

All I know is…

Something is brewing……

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The curious case of me and my neighbors

Me and my neighbor – Shantanu and family have not being in talking terms for almost 2 years now. I thought it might be good to dedicate one post to this.

First thing first – this is my version of the story , far away from their version for sure and further far away from the reality. ( This blog is being published after sharing the same with Shantanu and modifying it as per the objections)

First let me share with you the journey in few sentences.

2014-2017 : Peaceful friendship Phase, we worked together, ate together, discussed , shared ….

2018-2019 : Some level of distance crept in, relationship not deepening but becoming more formal, few hurts on both sides – but we continue to co-exist peacefully.

20192021 : Hurts take over, talks stopped, blame game is ON, No longer in any kind of conversation or relationship.

My version of What happened ?

Frankly, I realize it was majorly my fault in judging them. They are what they were. I saw them through romantic glasses. I saw them through colored reality and hence had a different picture that I wanted to believe. Over period of time, my glasses were partially broken and I could see some glimpses through the crack. It started hurting me because I had a different image. When I look back, all that I blame them today for , was perhaps present right from day 1 but I didn’t see.

I am not saying that they are wrong or bad – all I am saying is that what they were , I misread it. This misreading led to many confusions and some hurts. If I could go back in time start over with my current reading of them, I am sure that today we would have been in perfectly sound relationships with almost no conflicts.

Lemme further simplify with a funny analogy – Say you meet a girl, you fall in love and decide to get married in that heightened state of emotion. Later you realize that this girl would have made a great colleague but not a great wife ! Someone who would be great wife may not be a great colleague. If I could treat the girl as my colleague right from the beginning, I wouldn’t have felt hurt, I wouldn’t have caused hurt. Thus, its the reading that matters. I misread. I had to pay the price.

My version of “Their version” of what happened ?

They feel betrayed. A lot of the rights , privileges , benefits and scope they received are being taken away by me because of my changed reading of them. Road for instance, was agreed to be shared for free but with new reading , I feel they must either pay for the road or just find another one. No wonder they feel betrayed. If I allow what they want, I feel exploited.

Because I was reading the girl to be my wife, I could share everything I had, freely. Infact, girl had the right to my things. The girl got used to it and when I now treat her like a colleague, she would naturally feels hurt. I can only say sorry for my misreading, making her wife again looks quite difficult.

Further, I feel that just like how I feel I am flawless , they feel the same. Strongly than me , I would argue. They feel they have done no wrong, all wrong is being done on to them. For no mistake of theirs ,they are being put through all this torture. This is exactly where I lose hope. For one who sees no fault in his approach and all wrongs being inflicted upon him – I feel it’s little difficult to find a way out.

One thing that could have Saved our relation !

Communication, conversations , dialogues …I think we both failed at keeping communication alive. If we were chit chatting, small things would have remained small and we could have sorted differences amicably. We used to talk once (by talk I mean deep sharing or longer conversation with lot of time and space) or maximum thrice a month even in best of our days. Slowly it came down to once a month and that’s where one of us should have blown the whistle and put effort to increase communications. I feel this would have avoided most of the issues we hold right now.

Way Ahead :

At one point I was quite determined to resolve conflicts. I was willing to do whatever it takes to get to terms that are at least not hostile if not amicable. But right now – I do not see a way ahead for resolution. At best, we can come to terms where we do no further violence to each other. I would be happy with that. But unfortunately, I’ve seen in life that relationships are like water, if flowing they continue to flow and eventually meet ocean but if they do not move, they gets worse with every passing day collecting more and more stale.

May God give us all sanity to learn a way to be with others. !

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The new Religion of Vaccination

Covid brought in a new religion of Vaccination ! While not totally new, the covid pandemic did present Vaccination in a new , powerful and dominating avtar. Why am I calling it a religion ? Because it’s based on beliefs and it divides humanity.

Some may say, its based on science and not beliefs ! I am not denying the science part of it. A lot of rituals in religion are also based on scientific or cosmic principles, in fact if one could trace down – there is always strong component of science in most rituals. Similarly, Vaccination does have a science foundation but the building built above the foundation is largely made up of beliefs and biases.

When does something become religion ? When you start believing in singular story told to you and become antagonist to people with other stories. Further, you wish to control, convert and contain the ones who do not adhere to your story.

That’s precisely happening with Vaccination today.

We are made to believe that Vaccinations are danger free, effective and the only way to combat Covid. We are made to believe that those who do not take Vaccine are a threat to society and are savage – stupid people. Further, there is every possible curtailment to ensure that those without vaccination face lot of issues and thus slowly can be controlled or converted.

One day I get a call from our laborer in farm asking me – Injection lagwale kya ? This person is 50 years old , super powerful, works hard, eats wild and has a great immunity. Further he lives in our farm – far away from village , city or town. The chance of him getting infected with Covid are quite low and even if he is infected – at the mortality of less than 2%, the chances of him survival are more than 99% ! Does he really need a shot ? But he was lately threatened that your all government benefits including bank accounts will be seized if you do not vaccinate. Scared, unsure – he gets his shot. Of course, no side affects so far and he is doing well. But the question remains – Do we have right to our health ? Do we have right to chose ?

People like me may be able to escape as we know many routes including the false certificates easily available everywhere but what happens to the innocents ?

Another friend of mine was denied medical care after being diagnosed , admitted for Kidney stone on the ground of vaccination. Further he was reprimanded and ridiculed for not taking the shot. Such stories are ample. People without shots are being troubled like anything and it’s not even seen as an unfair behavior. That’s why I am calling this religion !

In the name of religion, you may trouble people, you may even kill them and still the masses of your religion will see no harm in it and may well give you awards for saving the religion !

We are living in tough times where singularity is being celebrated. Vaccination is just one facet.

We’ve become more developed but less tolerant.

We’ve become more educated but less sane.

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Covid , Death and My view

Another post on Covid ? Well even I did not anticipate writing one more post on covid. But with waves coming in , life rolling up and down, events and news around , I am tempted to write something.

I am well aware a lot has been said and writted about the pandemic, infact this must be the most talked about pandemic of human history. Still there is something hovering on my mind which I wish to share.

I sense fear of death around. This fear of death is breaking the fabrics of relationships. This fear of death is exposing how shallow we all are. How superficial are our bonds !? I believe we were never a culture that feared death. Indian culture embraced death as a part of life and made it look as simple an event as that of chaning cloths. Shri Krishna says in Geeta , just as one changes cloths, we change bodies. We are not culture that believed in one life and end of it meaning , end of it all. The cause of fear is rooted in what we believe in. If we believe its one life , we fear. If we believe that we are eternal the fears allay.

Ofcourse, believing is just one thing, when it really comes to your face – beliefs play little role. However strong beliefs do have power to change the way we live and deal. It is disheartening for me to see people not fulfilling very basic relationships or becoming too mean just because of the fear of death due to covid. Yes, it’s a pandemic, Yes one can die – so what? We are anyway going to die. If we let go of our relationships, of our souls, of our joys – what is the point of being alive anyway ?

Perhaps, more than death of self – we are afraid of loosing our loved ones. It’s the case with me too. I am , I believe , better prepared for my own death than for death of my parents or my children. However, here too I get strength from the same source that tells us that we are eternal beings, that this world is afterall just a guest house and every meeting is just a beginning of a departure and every pain a step towards salvation.

One might see all this as a psycological or mind trick to pacify oneself or deal with pademic. But I mean what I am writing. Ofcourse these thoughts do pacify me but still the sentiment I am sharin are quite real for me. Ofcourse, I do long to “know” experiencially what I “believe”, but that’s a journey not entirely in my control. So i wait, i watch, i breathe, I pause, i look around, i smile.

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Alright – Shall I Also speak on Corona?

Frankly I shouldn’t because too much has been said already. For it, against it. But then – “bahti ganga me hath dhona” bhi koi galat nahi hai. Afterall , the aggresive itch to shout out loud my opinions is still deep in me. So allow me to share.

I am not gonna talk about whether its real or fake, chinese or american. Not I want to celebrate ayurveda, farm living triumps. All I wish to share is what it did to us and to me.

A tiny virus could distrupt everything that we considered invincible. It also exposed our selfishness and fears. It exposed our hyrpocricies. I still believe it to be blessing. Ofcourse, we did lose some of our loved once – but we were losing some every now and then anyway. To me it taught many things –

1.) Importance of taking care of your body, yourself.

2.) Importance of being together as family.

3.) Importance of being there for society when people are afraid.

4.) Importance of being in sync with nature.

5.) Importance of living a life based on natural laws and not on social laws /fads.

6.) Importance of living for today and not taking anything anyone for granted.

I also enjoyed traveling during corona – for India felt like Europe. To walk through these lonely roads which are usually choked. To see the huge markets shut. To experience the silence and stillness was magical. To stay put with family was historical and beautiful. To value every single grain and that last lot of fresh fruit was touching. To see people smile, help each other, feel together in these times was beautiful.

I enjoyed attenting funerals during Corona.

Frankly, there is nothing I could complain from the entire padenmic and the list of things I feel grateful for is long.

Thank you Covid, I know you are just part of this huge cosmic plan just like all of us. There is nothing in your hand or mine but the cosmic plan at work.

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Dada Ji and Papaya

I’ve had some special affection for my grandfather (dada ji) inspite of the fact that I’ve spent very less time with him as my father was living far away from where dada ji was. Perhaps it was his strong personality , his clarity in decisions or just the pure wisdom he would shower on any topic that’s been bought to his notice.

For instance, I remember once me and my cousin were taking dada ji for some eye check from Bhopal to Indore and the new four lane highway has just come up. In the 4 hours of journey, me and my cousin were constantly arguing on pros and cons of having highways that cut off the villages , depriving them of various benefits of being on the main commercial road. We argued like mad for hours trying to prove each other’s point. I persisted it’s bad to have highways, he persisted it’s good. When two of us could not reach a conclusion we decided to disturb the only silent listener with us who has been bearing our conversation for hours now. My cousin hastingly asked “Dada Ji, you only tell – isn’t development part of our life , what’s wrong in highways ? “. We both were now hoping for a long good conversation on the topic but his reply was epic yet simple. He said ” Son, whatever we do will always have two sides. One good and one bad.” and returned to his silent composure. There was silence for quite sometime while we both brood over our own stupidity.

Anyways, his wisdom was pristine and deep. May be that’s what attracted me to him . I still don’t know why but I do feel some attachement to him. He was a strong man with no ailments whatsover but around 85 he started collapsing. A lot of health issues suddenly crept in from diabetes to constipation to eyesight loss to swollen prostrate. We knew he has started his downfall.

I’ve moved to the farm by this time and was busy planting trees and learning farming. Severe constipation was his major worry which is why perhaps he was really fond of “Papayas”. He will be very happy if we gift papayas to him. He would often ask us to get papayas from market too. So, when I took to farming, I developed a dream. I wish I could take Dada ji to my farm where there are ample organic papayas which he can cherish…

So, I would plant dozens of Papayas every year. Did all that I could and yet in 6 years failed to get a single papaya. I almost gave up on papayas and my dream was far to be fullfilled especially with Dada Ji’s health detriorating fast.

As life would have it. As existence has always been kind to me. One tree that grew on it’s own and was later also eaten by a cow continued to grow and we without any hopes just kept it alive. It started fruting just at right time – the lockdown. Just when world shut down during Covid Pandemic we had a bumper crop of papayas.

What’s more , we recently Got Dada Ji also to farm and the tree continued bestowing us with papayas. The day I cut first farm papaya and fed to me Dada ji, it felt so magical. I felt as if I’ve achieved something so astonishing. My joy knew no bound.

The God Sent Papaya….

Dada Ji is still at farm and we hope to keep him here till it gets little uncomfortable here around onset of monsoon. He is very weak and almost not in worldly sense. He eats, sleeps, and blabbers but is unable to move or really understand what’s happening around. But everyday from last almost a month, the tree has been giving us papayas and that’s what has been his breakfast. A deep contentment is the reward.

This incidence, yet again, tells me that there is little we can really do. It’s life / nature /God that doesn everything. The best crops I get from farm are the ones that I never planted conciously. God farms, we cherish. I farm , I perish 😉

Dada ji eating Papaya

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Winter Gathering 2020

2020 has been the year of pandemic and we were not sure at all of participation we will recieve for the gathering this year. However it turned out to be one of the gathering with most participants. We had a friend couple (Ruchi Sandeep) from Bhopal who’ve chosen to explore residing at farm and have been living here for couple of months now. With them as a 9 year old boy – Megh who added a very special energy to the entire farm. Cookie, Luna and Leo – three dogs were a welcome addition. Yash, my brother also here as usual lightenting up the spirits.

Tapan (another friend and co-owner of land) was here with his entire family (parents, wife, children – including a 2 month old). Two families of workers and then 5 participants who travelled specifically for the gathering – all of it made it a very nice assorted group of perfect size.

Jatin completed his hattrick of farm visit this year and was the man who influenced the other 3 friends to come in – Naveen, Subbu aka Subramaniam and Gowry. As usual we had a ball.

Living together with no agenda, no plans, no expecations and no worries was an amazing experience. Compost toilets posed some challenges but then everyone embraced whatever was available. With winter rising up, bon fire with conversations merged with silence became a ritual every night.

Mountains always invite and hence couple of treks and a dip in nearby dam was a treat. Cooking together , trying millets and some other organic food yet another treat for us. With full moon approaching, switching off solar lights was a beautiful sight.

I’ll have to admit though, something that pinched throughout the gathering. While we were all really enjoying community and farm living and it might sound too romantic to the distant reader, our closest neighbours were not part of it. It’s ironic that while we are growing well in terms of community, yet we are antagonistic the oldest family residing in farm with us. People issues and conflicts of beliefs continue to haunt us like any other community elsewhere.

Nevertheless, as usual these 3-4 days were as memorable and uplifting as ever. Winter gathering always gives me the high I need to continue with all the struggles that farm life poses. It pushes me to smile broader, celebrate deeper.

Thank you Jatin 🙂 , Yash , Naveen, Gowry and Subbu for making it so beautiful 3 days of our lives. Your presence was a blessing.

Thank you Ruchi – Sandeep to act like true hosts and relieve me of so many responsiblities. Your spirit to welcome everyone with open arms and to adjust with any inconveniences is really touching. 🙂

Thank you Megh for all the lovely PJs and not going to sleep when we adults wanted to chat dirty around bonfire 😉 Haha…just kidding.

Tapan and his family couldn’t get involved much due to young children but whatever little we could be together definitely made the entire gathering richer.

Last and but not the least – thank you Dada , Vinod and his family for being there all the time and to Priyamvada and my own children to be no fuss hosts, accepting everything , enjoying every bit.

ENJOY SOME PICTURES OF GATHERING BELOW (COURTSEY : GOWRY)

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Elephant in a dark room

Perhaps, no other analogy comes so close to real scenario of life as the famous elephant in the dark room explored by different people. A similar analogy with slight difference in some cultures in elephant being explored by 6 blind men. In either case, each one is experiencing something different and hence considers “it” to be the “truth”. Someone experiences the leg says that this is a giant pillar, the one experiencing the trunk says that it is a huge pipe and so on.

Everyone is stating their own truth which is true and yet it is not the reality or the actual truth. I really don’t have words to differentiate or grade truth but I will rely on your common sense to make sense of what is being written.

My truth appears so much real that I feel others truth is not a possiblity at all. This breeds all the so called differences and conflicts.

Nevertheless, the reason I wrote this post is because recently I shared an experience with some friends on whatsapp and it was so intriguing and interesting to see the responses. To the same message or story, each one responded so differently and each response was coming from their personal truth. The response holds the key to their personlity, their world views or scenarios. Here is the original message followed by some of the responses I recieved. Enjoy …

Message : The Elephant

Today an 80+ year old (estimated guess as he didn’t know how old he is) man walked in our farm and we chatted long on various topics. It was a beautiful learning experience just to hear him out.

I specifically wish to share an anecdote he shared , few days back as he was walking back from nearby town to his village (9km one side distance) , the local govt officer spotted this old man and said , “How come you are walking like this ? Where is your mask ?” Old man said, ” Saheb, I don’t wear it for I feel suffocated, I am an old man not used to these new things…” Saheb said, ” exactly, because you are old , I am asking you to put on the mask for the young is not dying but the oldies are dying of Corona”.

To which this old man replied with absolute certainty, ” Tell me one thing Saheb, when God has already decided everyone’s exact number of breaths. How can it be lessen or increased ?” “Something has to become cause of death when it’s the time ! It could be Corona or just a slip of leg…but its just an excuse…” Saheb replied with a smile, “Dada, you are just speaking some high wisdom and not understanding simple thing..”

To which the old man said, ” It’s not some high Gyan Saheb, it’s my truth and if you want I am right now willing to come with you sit next to a Corona patient for I know….

“Jab likh di prabhu ne gin ke sans, kam badh kaise ho ?” (When God has written precisely how many breaths will one take, how can it be decreased or increased ?”)

The responses :

  1. Hmm. We like some people. Then we like what they say… liking someone is very good. Offers hope😊

2. I feel good reading it ..
To hear from some one who has seen life .. these lines of common knowledge appear real and alive..

3. So true!!!

4. Yes absolutely. That’s the way ordinary indian who is still uncontaminated by modernity thinks. The British realised long back that the threat of death did not work with indians so they resorted to torture. Death for Indians is a forgon conclusion. It is predecided

5. Is this a true story?

6. Like Steve Austin the WWE wrestler famously said…fuck fear, drink beer…cheers mate👍

7. A true devotee..

8. Very true indeed as we forget to live our lives in dread to death. But we forget that death is what we cannot decide but living life is what you can enjoy.
I met someone like this old man in madai almost similar experience but different format. Yeah i can feel it is complete bless to have such insights by oldies who have lived life for decades and that too in style

9. Wah wah

10. true
This attitude is much needed now than ever

11. 👍👍👏👏

12. hmmmm
Baat to sahi kahi unhonay

13. Faith is a such a beautiful thing

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Beyond Money : The Currencies that Matter

Lemme admit it shamelessly and unapologetically, I am still not financially sustainable and yes I depend on various other sources of income outside of my farm for my sustainance.

One of the most common questions of idealists is “Are you able to sustain yourself from farm ?” . There is a certain disappointment and looking down on us if the answer is “No”.

Then questions continue, is it not possible to make money from farming ? Does this sustainable farm living means living in poverty ? Is it fair to earn from cities while criticizing their lifestyle and boast simple living ? Is it okay to borrow money from friends and families ?

The paradigm of Multiple Currencies :

To understand how I look at things (which many would rightly see as a justification of my stand or laziness to not earn money), we need to look at the very existence of currencies.

What is a currency ? Currency is something that has value for you and for others.

For example money (printed notes) is a currency which you value and others value. Thus money has some power and influence. It enables exchange of energies for your whims, fancies and desires.

That way there is nothing wrong with money. What screws up the system is when one currency gains undeserved priority over the rest of currencies.

What are the other currencies ? What are other things that you value and others value ? Health is one. Relationships is another. Being useful to society is yet another. Healing and not destructing planet is yet another. So on, there can be multiple currencies based on different time, space, culture and circumstances.

Unfortunately today, we only value one currency of money. Both for ourselves and for others. Who would you consider rich ? One with a billion dollar bank balance or one with a half a dozen really amazing friends ? One with a mansion in Bollywood street or one who has saved or planted thousands of trees ? Is one with Merceded Benz richer than one who is helping society in various ways ?

At first, it may appear that we are comparing apples and oranges because we are so totally convinced and sold to the idea of money. If you hold on, you might appreciate the idea.

Lemme give you more personal example to make it more clear. I am constantly asked this question about money and how much I make from farming ? I do earn money from farm but it’s not enough for all my expenses. Immediately people discard my model or life as “failure” in many senses. This is the lens of money.

If one had the lens of multiple currencies, he would see how I am contributing to society by producing quitals of organic food, how I am working with nature to nourish the ecosystem, how I’ve helped in making my own parents, family healthier , how I am able to spend so much more quality time with my wife and children, how I am slowly posing a question to the society around me about what is good life, challenging the existing norms in numerous ways ?

I may be deprived of currencies as per standards set by society, but I am amongst the richest as far as life’s currencies are concerned.

Have we all not seen and known people with opulence but deprived of smiles ? Or people in poverty also living it so joyously ?

Ofcourse I am not saying money is totally useless or unimportant. All I am saying is that we need to expand our definition and understanding of what true currencies in life are !

There was a time when I’d get crazy amount of money just for warming up my seat in an AC chamber. However, my health, my happiness, my contribution to the society and nature – all stood in question.

Today, I am happier than ever, I am healthier than ever, I am contributing at least in some way to a better world (i hope so 😉 ) , I am able to give time, love and support to my parents, my children, my family. I travel across the nation and I’ve made such lovely friends and relationships that I don’t spend a penny and yet the travel, stay, food is taken much better than what if I’d booked an expensive holiday. To me, this makes me truly rich.