A Typical Urban Family – The Suhas Family
Suhas and Sunita grew up in a small town, humble middle class environment. This meant no gadgets, no fancy wardrobe or toys. Both of us turned out okay and landed up in cities with jobs that earned us a typical urban lifestyle. All that we didn’t have during our growing up years were now at our disposal.
Needless to say, this lifestyle consumed us like for most urbanites. Aarav was then conceived and even before Aarav was born, both of us started collecting all that the luxury brands could offer for new borns. A room was readied in anticipation of a baby girl but, Aarav decided to pop out instead! Never mind, Aarav had a pink welcome.
While both of us wanted Aarav to have everything that we didn’t, Suhas got carried away and didn’t really know where to stop. As Aarav grew up, Suhas started getting him stuff even before he asked or even before his age permitted. An over enthusiastic and over indulgent papa!
Materialism Consumes Us
This continued for a decade. What also happened in this decade was that Suhas continued to get gobbled by his job – less by the job itself more by Suhas’s aspiration.
This aspiration was not driven by his passion towards the field that he was in but, more because of the adulation he received for his success and the economies of such success. This meant that Suhas spent more time in his office and started spending more on buying things for Aarav and Sunita to substitute his absence. Now, something peculiar with this situation. Suhas spent more time in his office to earn more money to buy more things for the family to substitute the less time he spent with them! It look Suhas almost a decade to realise that they needed more time with him and not the things. Suhas started to see the vicious cycle between the need for a high paying job and sustenance of an urban materialistic lifestyle. Needless to say, pay is usually directly proportional to stress.
Now, what was Sunita upto? Having played the role of a ‘stay at home’ mom for a good 4-5 years, Sunita realised that there’s more to life than sitting at home waiting for Aarav to return from School and then Suhas to return from office, cooking food, managing household, etc. Sunita had a interest in sewing so she took up a short course with a NIFT sister concern and then dived deep into quilting. Soon, Sunita set up a quilting unit and gave birth to a brand – Indian Yards.
This was an all women unit with a social cause. Sunita trained and employed women from an economically backward community. Indian Yards did very well for a garage start up but, again, Sunita also had started to see the vicious cycle. Like any other business, Indian Yards took away all waking hours leaving no time for family.
The Get-aways – Cycling, Running, Vacations, Shopping, etc
At the peak of their respective endeavours, to manage the stress (or call it mid-life crisis), like other city blokes, they dabbled with cycling and running. Suhas went deep with cycling and that gave him ample time to reflect and question. He would spend hours on the saddle and come back with a bag full of questions.
Each passing year, there was an increment in money inflow so was there an increment in lifestyle and the ‘things’. We believed more ‘things’ brought more happiness. Sure they did, although, for a short while. Then it was time for more ‘things’. In a way, we could call this a prolonged retail therapy. It was just not the ‘things’, there was also luxury travel. At a drop of a hat, we would jump into our car / jeep and drive-off for a weekend get-away.
We were looking for happiness from the outside. We were getting the happiness but for short periods and in instalments. We knew something was a miss but, just couldn’t put our finger on it. Our search turned into seeking and we had a brush with Isha Yoga. This is where we turned inward. This was a turning point in our life.
We realised the obscene level of conditioning that we have gone through and we certainly didn’t want Aarav to go through the same. So, the decision to un-school ourselves was made. From being typical ambitious parents running after admissions into A grade schools, we decided to ditch schools. We said NO to schools and we began the journey with un-schooling.
Travel Becomes Our Teacher
During a self-retreat in the forests of Kodaikanal, we seeded the idea of exploring incredible India. We hadn’t really gone beyond urban India with all our tourist traveling so we decided to explore the rural India which amounts to ~74% of India! We packed our bags and made a rough route map.
Suhas took 2 months off from him work, we got into our family sedan and off we went. We covered ~10,000 kms across 14 Indian states in 59 days. This journey deepened our experience further towards simple living. We met people who were very warm, simple and in their own way spiritual.
Read more about our experience during this road trip here.
The Coming Home
We soon realised what was amiss all these years, we could put our finger on where we were going wrong. We were constantly looking for happiness from the outside – ‘things’, ‘luxury travel’, ‘food’, ‘movies’, etc. Not that any of this is wrong but we realised that each of these can only give instant happiness but, not the lasting happiness or bliss that we were looking for. We only ended up accumulating excess baggage. We realised that we could only get what we were looking for by focussing inward.
We had learnt a great deal about simple living so we switched almost immediately. The domestic help were let off so Sunita started doing all the house chores and Suhas pitched in when he was home. We washed our own car, did our own repairs, gave ourselves hair-cuts, etc. We got rid of the dependencies and the associated expenses. We also got rid of plastic money. We were card less. This was the first step.
We then started selling off the ‘things’ that we hadn’t used in the last 6 months and every time we thought of buying something new (old habits die hard!), we would pause and deliberate to classify if it was a ‘need’ or a ‘want’. It would mostly turn out to be a ‘want’ hence, decision ruled against buying!
We simplified our lifestyle over the next year to the extent that we hardly spent any money and the equation had changed. We were earlier spending more than we earned and now, we were hardly spending anything. And, we were still content. The ‘things’ no more meant anything to us. It was the quality of time we spent together that enriched us, we spent time together conquering our respective mountains. We had started deriving happiness from the inside. We continued with Isha yoga which helped us in this endeavour and we discovered Yoga as a tool to explore the inside.
And, now, The Million Dollar Question
Soon, we had to address the question that had been knocking on our doors for long – do we need the high paying job? The answer was an obvious and a resounding NO. The decluttering of the household had made us light and had given us the much needed clarity. It seemed like a natural decision. Suhas resigned from his job with an Oil & Gas major. We wrapped up what was left as an household in Bangalore and chose Yoga as a vocation. We now don’t need the ‘things’ or the money or the job or the adulation to make us happy. We are Simply Happy!
Today, we reside in a farm nestled in the Nilgiris, popularly known as the blue mountains. We read, write, watch movies, play cricket, practice Yoga, cycle, hike up mountains and everything else. We eat fresh out of the farm, drink fresh diary, breath fresh air that has a dose of eucalyptus. And, our journey has just begun and you will find our daily updates on facebook and instagram.
As Steve Maraboli said –
“Cemeteries are full of unfulfilled dreams… countless echoes of ‘could have‘ and ‘should have‘… countless books unwritten… countless songs unsung… I want to live my life in such a way that when my body is laid to rest, it will be a well needed rest from a life well lived, a song well sung, a book well written, opportunities well explored, and a love well expressed.”