Skip to main content

Goodness in the Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of Shibumi and everyday the mothers churn out delicious dishes, carefully prepared keeping in mind nutrition, taste, health and the resources available. The kitchen uses mostly organic items where possible and each parent who has dedicated time to it has got with them a new change, a little step to making the kitchen a compassionate and conscious space.

Vineela (One of the mothers who has cooked for us once every week for some years now!) who  has managed to find a lovely source for local vegetables shares the story of a relationship that has brought freshness into our kitchen at Shibumi.

Two years back my mother-in-law and I attended a week long yoga session. This was where I first met Kala aunty. Kala aunty is a 70 year old lady with fully white hair and a beautiful smile. She is a go getter who never shies away from hard word, becomes very passionately involved in any work that she does and always eyes for perfection. Her daughter says she was born with a green thumb. She was always interested in gardening and used to have a beautiful terrace garden with lots of different plants. You will often hear people say that entering her garden was like entering a mini forest.

Much after our first meeting I learnt that Kala aunty was selling organic vegetables that she herself was growing in her farm. Instantly I started buying vegetables from her. During one of our meetings aunty mentioned to me the difficulty she was facing in selling the vegetables from her increasing yield. I told her about Shibumi and how our kitchen was completely into organic foods.

Soon enough Shibumi started buying it’s vegetables and fruits from Kala aunty.
Even though today aunty sells her vegetables to many of her neighbours and friends, she began her experiments in her own home. Having always been conscious about what her family eats aunty started out by buying and using a Kent purifier for fruits and vegetables. Each time she would notice a smell of chlorine and pesticides and the water would become frothy. This was enough to make her shift completely to organically grown produce.

Soon after, her daughter bought a piece of land and aunty started organic farming.

The first few times that aunty tried farming on the land nothing grew. The soil was tested and it was found to be useless for farming. Gradually aunty got it replaced and figured out ways to make It more fertile. For this her daughter brought (and still does every two months) the dung and urine of Naati cows from a farm in Bannerghatta Road. She got manure prepared at the farm using organic materials along with jaggery, besan, cow dung and cow urine called Jeevanmruta. Besides this she also collected daily vegetable and fruit waste from many of her neighbours (including me) and the vegetable vendor to make her own compost. Within a few months the soil became very fertile.

Despite all these efforts things were not easy. In the beginning she lost many plants and seeds. Many small mistakes were made such as putting too much or too little water, putting not enough manure, allowing for pests, etc. She started researching, experimenting, learning from each mistake she made and rectifying it along the way. And for all this she had and still has great support from her family and friends. There is a also a family that stays on the farm to help her with most of the manual work.

Profit has never been aunty’s motive for doing this work. She started with the idea of growing vegetables only for her own house but because of an increasing yield she started distributing them among her friends and neighbours. The neighbours however didn’t like taking her produce free of cost and insisted on paying for the vegetables. Even then she didn’t want to use this money for herself. Instead, every time she accumulated Rs. 10,000 she would give it away to a different charity of her choice such as Akshay patra, or the army, etc.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Turtle Walk in Chennai

When news that the olive ridley turtles had started to nest in the beaches of Chennai reached us, at the beginning of last week, we quickly put together a plan for our visit. Tickets were booked and calls were made to our friends at The School for a place to rest, Tholkappia Poonga for a visit and to our friends at SSTCN (Chennai Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network) for the overnight walk to watch the nesting. We set off on a Friday morning reaching Chennai by noon. After a quick lunch, we visited the Tholkappia Poonga.
Tholkappia Poonga is an ecological park in the Adyar estuary area. It is an amazing example of restoration of freshwater eco-systems in the heart of a city! We were introduced to the history, the restoration process and the flora and fauna found in the park by Mrs.Gomati. Her energy, passion for ecological restoration, and determination to carry forward the good work shone through in her interactions with us. We recommend it as a must see place for people visiti…

When to rhyme was a crime: A week of poetic madness at Shibumi

It always thrills me when I get a chance to work with poetry. As an avid fan of stories and prose, poetry came to me much later in life and since then I've been hooked. So, when Shibumi suggested I work with the children on poetry, I grabbed the chance.
My first task was to dispel all common notions that a poem has to rhyme. We attacked haiku with a vengeance in the Kiri and Thulir group. By giving them a simple formula, and some examples, they were soon spouting haikus about stones, puppies, mice, and even about people. Their young minds grabbed the chance to step out of the structures of a poem, and the imagery they captured in three simple lines was fantastic. As Sarayu said, "I love haiku because it's infinite. Anything is possible." Of course, we had to trim and tweak some of the 'poems' which irked our budding poets, but they eventually succumbed to some edits here and there in their masterpieces. We also sketched and doodled about existing poems and h…

Ta-ki-ta Ta-ka-dhi-mi

The first week of July started off on a musical note with Ranjani Sivakumar, a Carnatic vocalist, spending four days at Shibumi conducting a music workshop.


The children huddled around Ranjini and enjoyed the sessions with her. She would bring our attention to listening by patiently tuning the tanpura at the start of the session. Asking the children to listen and participate by telling her if the notes of the string sounded lower or higher. This naturally lead to conversations and questions about the instrument, the tension in the string and sounds that are soothing.

For most part of the session we were learning the Sarali varisai, the fundamental sequences. This allowed us to get a feel for the melody and the rhythm. The sequences follow a logical order - ascending and descending, up to the 7th varisai. We learnt with her the first three patterns and sang them at different speeds.


She had a playful way with the younger children (Lalit and Todi groups), when understanding the ' ta…