Back to Basics

Story of a techie-turned-vivasayee 

Siddharth Pattabiraman leads a sustainable life in Netrambakkam village. This place is located near Madurantakam which happens to be famous for its huge lake and the Eri Kaatha Ramar Temple. His parents Hema and Pattabiraman live in Coimbatore. They are natives of the Tirunelveli region. Siddharth had done his schooling in Carmer Garden Higher Secondary in Coimbatore and went on to do his B. E. (Computer Science Engineering) from IIT, Madras. Later, he did his MBA from IIM Kolkatta.  

The farmer who is now leading a sustainable life had worked in the IT industry before moving over to farming. He is back to basics. Siddharth was happy to talk about sustenance. "I began as a professional and worked for some years. Happened to save enough money in order to ensure that I lead a life that will permit me to be free from further pursuit of the same. I did not want to be running after money. It is better to be free from a high consumption life. Such a life causes stress to the individual and the ecology too. It is high time that we reduce our consumption. We are using more than what the world can afford. Galloping growth should not be at the cost of our environment. We should understand that there is a limit for everything."  

Siddharth lives in his small farm and his land measures just a few acres. His house was built with sundried bricks. It does not contain much of concrete and is covered by a simple roof. The engineer-turned-farmer does not have a fridge and he eats fresh food everyday. He does not go to the gym, for his work is his exercise. He is happy to be embedded in nature. Siddharth states that we should be happy to preserve our ecology. He goes on to add that it is for our own sanity and good health. The farmer adds by stating that human life is not for wasting things but to ensure that everything is sustained. He is not against technology but is for sensible use of the same.  

“I did not know about agriculture. However I understood that we are cogs in a complex polluting system. Indulgence is certainly not the way. I started looking at the why of things and realised that we were wasting a lot of resources in the name of growth. This led us into a throw away economy. I understand that I have my own limitations. However I felt that something could still be done in the interest of the living planet. Bachelorhood helped me. Better not to be carried away by consumerism. This tough process helped me a lot. I cultivate my own food. Green gram, black gram, rice, ragi, and varagu, are cultivated in my own farm. The ground nut and gingelly from the farm are used for making oil. I try to reduce ploughing using a tractor because it has a direct impact on the ground. I give my surplus to my friends and relatives in Chennai,” added Siddharth, the enthusiastic natural farmer.  

Siddharth has used old windows and doors for his home in the village. He has consciously avoided the middleman. However, he feels that it may not be possible for everyone. Even his two wheeler is an old one. The farm has a 25 feet deep well. He does not want to deepen it. The region is fortunately full of lakes and ponds. His village is just 30 kilometres away from the sea shore. Siddharth feels that food is no longer a commodity if you grow it on your own. His near and dear pay him the retail price and therefore he gets the full amount. The absence of middlemen is his added advantage. There are about five farms like his in Netrambakkam. Nowadays, senior farmers are absorbed by people who have purchased agricultural lands in the territory. All such farms are fortunately organic.  

"Citizens are quite happy to buy the stuff for their kitchen from a known face. He feels that it is better than buying from an anonymous person. They like to visit the farm and meet the farmer once in a way. It is looked upon as an opportunity to understand the cycle of nature. Purchases are based on trust. Today the native vegetables are not as attractive as the overseas ones but they are healthier and suit our cuisine. Better not use high cost inputs. Using chemicals is harmful to the co-habitants - plants, animals and people. My U. S. sojourn made me understand more about wastages. We get things round the year but there is a price to pay. We create innumerable problems for our environment. It is citizen who will suffer due to his own actions. Better to lead a sustainable life which is in sync with nature. I am trying to do my best. There are my own limitations but I am trying my level best, " stated Siddharth. The former techie does his own installations and repairs. His farm and home are solar powered.  

The farmer does his own planning, marketing and watering. He uses minimal help. Logistics plan is by Siddharth and he ensures that the goods reach the user at his or her doorstep. Local hands help out at times of need. The goal of Siddharth is to lead a sustainable life. He understands very well that deepening the bore well or the well is not the solution. He has realised that chemicals and technology cannot forever help us. This native farmer uses native seeds, native inputs and gives the produce to the near and dear. It is really amazing to come across one who is keen to live on as part of nature. Siddharth Pattabiraman is a true Bharat Veer.   

Mr. Rajesh Govindarajulu is one of the founding members of the Verandah Club Pvt. Ltd. He is a leading columnist, historian, jeweler, entrepreneur, and a heritage enthusiast who is earnestly working to revive the past in the light of the present. Experiential learning about the history of Coimbatore is his main course of interest and he is also a panel member of many colleges in the city. 

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