Living in Kerala’s Kannur district, Chakkarakkal Uchulikkunil Hari and Asha’s home has become an attraction of sorts. Although it may seem quite unassuming from the outside the wonders of this eco-friendly space has attracted people, animals, birds and butterflies from far and wide. When Hari, who works for the Water Authority, and Asha, a voluntarily-retired teacher who now works with local farmers with natural agricultural practices decided to build a home for themselves six years ago, they were steadfast about having a house that reflected their love for nature and organic living.
Energy efficient and self-sustaining, ‘Navanu’ was built on 960 square feet, with mud walls encompassing a spacious bedroom, living room, kitchen, hall and a working station. An incredible feat of innovative architecture, even in the midst of a scalding summer, the house now remains cool despite not having any fans or coolers. The mud walls trap the warmth of the sun, keeping the inside temperature cosy during the night and as the sun sets, the cool winds take over. There is no power connection in the house either. Instead, the couple opted for a solar power source of energy for whatever little electrical devices they may own, enabling them to use the stored energy during the night. Hari and Asha’s food is mostly taken from their own gardens and front yard, but they don’t till nor fertilise their crops, preferring to let them grow in their own natural time, and with a very interesting cooling mechanism in place for storage, there is no wastage here. They created their own system of refrigeration by digging a shallow pit, of sorts, on a patch of land in their kitchen. Lined with bricks, a mud pot was placed inside and surrounded by sand which from time is time is dampened to keep the pot cool--this entire mechanism manages to keep food fresh for at least a week.
The kitchen runs on bio-gas, which is created after conversion of all household waste, even human bodily waste. Contrary to what you may be thinking right now, as Hari puts it to The Better India, “this doesn’t mean we live a primitive life”--with a television, mixer-grinder and computer, among others, they have all the electronic amenities they desire, powered by solar energy.
As Praveen Das writes for Manorama Online, Hari and Asha’s easy organic living has had many benefits for their health and well-being. It’s reported that Hari hasn’t visited a doctor or clinic in over 17 years now. “It is not that he does not catch a cold or fever, but resting and fasting are his medicines. Allopathy and Ayurveda medicines still remain untried for them. They are living proof that vegetables and fruits grown in one’s own yard can help ward off ailments. They do not believe in science that treats a part of the body in isolation. They believe in finding out the root cause one’s illness and in providing the necessary nutrition. Their philosophy is the same whether treating the earth they farm or their own bodies,” writes Das. While such kind of ‘natural living’ may not be easy for all of us, their efforts at sustainable and eco-friendly living is commendable, and they stand as a prime example that it is possible to co-exist with our natural surroundings without causing irreversible damage to our ecosystem.
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