The origins of Our Native Village
There are three aspects of Our Native Village that people are curious about. The first is what inspired us to start Our Native Village. The second is to listen to our experiences in the journey towards building a 100% eco retreat. And the third is what prompted us to convert Our Native Village into a holistic health retreat, moving out of the resort business.
We will start to unravel these in a series of writings in this space. We hope you will find it as interesting as we did during the journey. When we use the word ‘journey’ we truly mean JOURNEY – because we are still on the journey and have not reached the destination as yet.
As they say, the journey is always more fun than reaching the destination.
In the year August 1991, Capt MS Shrauti, the father of MS Lalitha, the co-founder of Our Native Village, had an angina incident. A quick check with cardiologists revealed serious arterial blocks. This led to a bypass surgery in October 1991. A bypass surgery is like a new lease of life, and Capt Shrauti, being a Master Mariner was all ready to go back to sea. Having joined as a cadet in the year 1948, Capt MS Shrauti did several stints at sea and on land before he relented to family pressure and anxiety and decided to give up his sea going career in the year 1991.
When he as was asked what he would do now, he said he will now become a farmer. And thus his daughter Lalitha and her husband decided to buy a small patch of land in 1991 to launch the farming career of Capt Shrauti. This is the 4.5 acres patch on which Our Native Village has been built in 2006, close to Our Native Village.
Those were the days when no roads existed to access the land. Every trip resulted in the discovery of yet another new path to reach the land. Those were the days when a cheerful Protima Bedi used to ride through on her horse with her dogs following. Nrityagram was a relatively new entity.
Capt MS Shrauti was a dedicated farmer. His friend from the Duffrin Institute, Ranjan Ray and his Australia wife Linda, joined him in the farming activity. They spent their time travelling between Australia and India, spending 6 months every year on the farm in Hessargatta. They bought the adjoining 7.5 acres of land
Between 1991 and 2001, Capt Shrauti managed the entire 12 acres of land, with Ranjan and Linda putting their shoulder to the wheel, when they were in India. Capt Shrauti bought a small house close to the farm to facilitate his journey to the farm every day. The farm was too remote and isolated to be able to live on it.
Flowers, vegetables, ragi, fruits were all grown on the land. Several challenges confronted Capt Shrauti in this farming journey, but he kept at it. Labour problems, marketing problems, not enough resources in the form of electricity and water, all flooded into his life relentlessly. But his gracious, calm and patient disposition never gave up. Most importantly he loved this journey – being so close to mother earth, tilling the soil, earning the fruits of labour – were all sources of pure joy for him. He was always a happy man with a ready smile on his face all the time.
In the way, all the joy and peace that people experience at Our Native Village now, is reminiscent of the energy and character of Capt Shrauti.
Most importantly, remember that the original intent of the land was to heal Capt Shrauti after his heart surgery. And now this is exactly what Our Native Village is doing – healing people. The original intent continues to this day, and will hopefully continue for a long time in the future, way beyond our lifetimes.