Sunday, July 05, 2020

Lockdown in the farm


Seven years ago we bought a mango farm in part to scratch an intergenerational itch that I've explained (sort of) in other posts. This post is about how that farm has come to play such a major role in our lives in these last few bizarre months.

For much of the time we’ve owned this parcel of land we’ve visited the farm over for short visits, mostly weekends. All along, I’ve nursed this hope of spending longer periods of time at the farm and execute more meaningful plans there. Given that I was still a salary-slave all those wishes were stowed away for some distant future, possibly post-retirement, until two unconnected events conspired to hasten my plans. First, Mr. Mukesh Ambani’s hairy ambitions brought high speed internet to even the rocks of Ramanagara where our farm is located. And then the pandemic happened. We no longer needed to be in Bengaluru. Scratch that. We were better off being away from Bengaluru.

Suddenly it became possible to work out of Ramanagara for weeks together. The privileges of staying there are endless. Most days, my alarm clock is a flock of peafowl that trumpet loudly just before dawn. Since there’s no interaction with humans other than my close family I don’t ever have to wear a mask. While in Bangalore, during the lockdown, I get frustrated about the lack of opportunity to exercise, at the farm I clock 4000 steps before breakfast without trying too hard. And waking up to the sight of the dramatic monsoon clouds over the granite hills that surround us is enough of a dopamine fix that makes up for all the other privileges lost during this period of lockdown. In short, it feels like a celebration.

Yet, after a week or two, we do have to come back to town - and that rhythm is dictated usually by the need to refill our LPG cylinder. When we do get back to the city we get to see the joys of urban life with a fresh pair of eyes - hot water, the washing machine, Netflix - and life feels like yet another celebration but of a different flavour. We’ve found the ultimate cheat code against hedonic adaptation.

I’m still hoping that we wade through this pandemic without a major hit to our health and if that happens, this period will remain one of my fondest memories.