The Vickneswaran family is an inspiring lot! Vickneswaran is an IT professional-turned-farmer who loves working with the soil, making, breaking and fixing things, building things from scratch. A techie who loves working with his hands. Kokilashree is an Engineer-turned-eco-evangelist who loves farming, cooking, painting, music, crafts, do-it-yourself stuff and practising yoga in everyday living (she says, basically doing everything else other than electronic engineering). They are a made-for-each-other couple who both love the same things - so much so that they quit the great-Indian-middle-class-dream of a life in the US to handcraft a life from scratch, according to their principles - meaning, they now live the pioneer life on a small farm in a village in Kerala. They are also homeschooling parents of two lovely boys aged 9 and 6, and a dog called Rusty.
Hello Kokila and thank you so much agreeing to do this interview! So you were living the American dream of a successful couple making a ton of money in software. You changed course dramatically and moved to India - to live on a farm. What caused this shift?
Hello! Thanks Deepa and it is a pleasure doing this with you. Happy to share our experience so it can help other people.
When you are from a middle-class background, with exposure to hardships early on in life, you are automatically connected with reality. You remain rooted. When we moved to the US for our software jobs, we were quite shocked by the rampant materialism - surprisingly for us, the most aggressive consumerism was by our own compatriots.
To me, being a mom is a transformative experience. In fact, I owe my growth to my boys. When I became mom to these two gorgeous children, my priorities changed. I wanted every good thing for them - not in terms of money but in terms of life experiences. Especially in terms of people. Just like I grew up being close with my grand moms, I wanted my sons to be close with their grandparents. Be connected to people, their cousins, their roots. We didn’t want them to grow up to be the typical ABCD (American Born Confused Desi).
We anyway wanted to homeschool them. we felt it was a more meaningful approach to learning, connected with nature. So it didn't matter whether we did it in India or the US. We also wanted to be there - in every sense - for our parents in their old age. My own spiritual leanings also egged me on to move closer to my roots. I wanted to be a human being who can work towards my social responsibilities. And there was so much work to be done back home so staying in the USA did not make much sense to me. Add to that, I was sick with gastritis and really longed to be closer to a my family. So, while our green card