New born mango leaves and You

New born mango leaves and You

[Photo - Nirmala Patil]

It’s the first day of phalguna, the last month in the Hindu lunar calendar. she comes running to me in the kitchen and taking me by my hand, she ushers me to the balcony and exclaims excitedly pointing her finger towards a lone mango tree faraway on the hill, ‘ma look, there are new leaves being born on that mango tree! It means it’s soon going to be spring, isn’t it?’ Such a small observation, but when my little girl of four makes it, I’m filled with joy and sweet pride. Because this is the kind of relationship with nature I’ve always hoped to cultivate in my daughter. The kind where she can learn to understand it’s language and realise that life is most beautiful when lived embracing nature. Especially in our present world that desperately needs us to care and retrace our unmindful ways.

And as we attempt to mend our damaging habits with simple sustainable practices, it is deeply essential that we raise our children with the same thoughtful awareness. And this, I believe, is only possible by encouraging and nurturing a genuine love for nature in the heart of our little ones. As an urban family living in the thick of high rises (as I think would be the case of many families dwelling in cities), bringing in nature inside our home and lifestyle has been the most organic way of sowing that seed of love into the core of my daughter’s being. 
Even if only limited to visiting a society garden, or simply wandering the tree-lined streets in the locality, here are a few gentle rituals we’ve included in our everyday that helps engage our little girl with nature. 

Outdoor play
Making regular trips to the playground and letting her play and frolic among the green and growing things is an intrinsic part of a her small world. The wind in her hair, the grass under her feet and mud between her fingernails are not only health boosting and a fun way of introducing good bacteria into my child’s system, but is also the most organic way of nurturing a growing friendship between her and the natural world. 

Seasonal walks
Going on slow seasonal walks is both educating and therapeutic to a child’s mind. We go in search of frogs and moss in the rains, and look for pale new shoots sprouting through the earth during springtime. As my little girl observes and takes note of all the changing details, her inherent curiosity is beautifully exercised too. Carrying a basket or a cloth bag on our walks to gather and bring home an abundance of nature treasure is always an additional delight. Older children can also be encouraged to bring along a camera or book to document/journal findings. 

Nature corner
Creating a small dedicated place either by a corner, windowsill or a table space can be a lovely way of letting our children display their gathered nature treasures and engage in creativity. An assortment of pebbles, seed pods, feathers and fallen leaves arranged by little hands makes for a happy, colourful art on our nature window. And it inspires hours of imaginative play indoors.

Tiny garden
For our little ones, having a tiny garden of their own to tend to is something quite special. Be it a small patch on the balcony, a dedicated container/tray growing a few easy to tend plants, or only a single pot, it a most intimate and tender way of teaching them to care. We recently gifted our daughter a succulent. And every time watching her excitedly watering and holding conversations with it, is a thing of joy. 

Nature gifts
Learning to create with natural things and giving it as gifts to others will perhaps be the fundamental of all the environmental friendly things our children will grow up to do all throughout their lives. Leaf and rock painting, weaving floral garlands and wreaths, making pressed flower cards for friends and family, however imperfect are all small acts of thoughtful creating and giving. Encouraging this, gives them the right roots early on.

Outside on the hill, as those new born leaves herald spring and a sweet anticipation for the coming mango season, inside our home, and I hope in every home, our little ones are  blossoming into nature lovers and learning to live an echo-rich life.

[Nirmala Patil]
A letter to my 'business'

A letter to my 'business'

We are living in a time when entrepreneurship is in its full bloom, people are full of ideas, people want to take risks and dream big, people want to lead a life on their own terms and slog it out to make that happen.

On the outside it does look quite pretty - to lead a life on your own terms. But only people in the start up world know what it takes - the hours, the non existent social life, the struggle, the anxieties, the months without salary.

There’s a lot that we give to our businesses, our so called babies.

But I’ve realised there’s a lot more that my business has given to me in 1.5 years than I could have ever managed on my own.

So here’s writing a letter to my business today.

Dear Love the World Today,

We started out a while back and I honestly didn’t think it would be such a tough and satisfying ride. I always hated the term ‘business’ and I remember being shy of telling the world that I’ve started my own business out of fear of being looked down upon as someone who has sold their soul to the big bad world driven by money. But I’ve seen such a transformation in the past 1.5 years thanks to all that you’ve brought into my life. I now take immense pride in saying that I’m the co-founder of a purposeful business. You’ve given me so much and I must let you know how thankful I am for that,

  1. Thank you for changing my buying habits. I used to be someone who loved shopping and loved brands. I cannot stand malls anymore. I prefer researching a brand and understanding the make of clothes before buying them - what fabric it uses, where is it stitched and why it costs the way it costs. I’m happier owning a LOT LESSER but knowing that every outfit I wear is made responsibly, will last me long and even though it may not be trendy, it represents me and can be worn in a lot of other ways.
  2. Thank you for making me hate plastic. I take immense pride in carrying cloth bags when I step down to buy some groceries. I take immense pride in my little steel bottle and copper water bottle that go with me wherever I go. I’ll be honest though that everytime I pack a courier for LTWT, I don’t know how to safeguard the delicate handwoven whites and end up putting those few pieces in seal kings and ofcourse the courier bag itself. I can only hope that these are getting reused by the homes that they go to - to store shoes or paper or pack dabbas.
  3. My husband made me realise that we can get rid of body washes and move to soaps since we’ll reduce the packaging trash we create. And I happily embraced the idea which I may not have done earlier.
  4. No more straws for me with coconut water at home.
  5. I’ve finally mustered the courage to order cloth panty liners.
  6. I value nature way more than before. I’ve always been a nature lover but I feel a sense of ownership and responsibility now. The world truly is ours and we are nothing but teeny tiny smallies in front of it.
  7. I’ve met some of the most beautiful and inspiring people through my journey. The guys at Happy Startup School and Ashram Week. All the social entrepreneurs through Unlimited India. And it makes me so happy and hopeful that in spite of all that’s wrong with the world, there are people who care.
  8. Oh! And my wedding outfits were a dream thanks to you. For all I cared was that these are classic handwoven textiles and nothing synthetic. I know I’m going to use my wedding outfits for years to come.
  9. I only buy what I absolutely need and love. I care for my things a lot more.
  10. My new home doesn’t have much storage space because we realised that if we don’t have storage space, we won’t be tempted to buy and hoard. And it’s actually possible to fit your whole world in pretty much a wardrobe.

Of course, the more you read and research on sustainability, it’s like pandora’s box and now I’m beginning to see the true extent of damage we might have caused to the world around us, how every single choice we make (right from the toothbrush we use) affects the planet and I also feel depressed at times that we might have reached a point of no return. But something inside of me tells me that we’ve got to try.

So here it is, a small list of all positive things you’ve brought to my life. They may seem really small but to me they are a big change in who I am and who I am becoming. And that to me is far more important than any other ambition.