Durgesh Nandhini, 33, resident of Chennai has a very interesting take on minimalism. Mother of two girls, aged six and two, Nandhini had jumped onto this lifestyle wagon close to seven years ago. Along with minimalism, she’s a staunch vegan and believes in schooling her children at home. We had a quick chat with her about her journey, what made her undertake the road to sustainability, and how she continues to benefit from her current lifestyle on a daily basis.
What is minimalism to her
While the definition of minimalism is living intentionally with as few things as possible – for Nandhini it is synonymous with having clarity in knowing who you are. She says, “Minimalism to me began by segregating stuff I love from those that didn’t spark joy. It started with just a thought; and before I knew it, I was acting upon it with gusto.”
How does one adapt to this lifestyle?
It helps if the people you live with have a minimalist bent of mind, Nandhini opines. In her case, her husband has always been a super organised person, while she was a hoarder until she switched to being a minimalist. “Being a hoarder made me lose my focus and creativity. I used to spend a lot of time just planning, and hardly got any actual work done. By clearing out my space, I magically saw this change come about where things just happened with ease,” she exclaims.
On being a minimalist mom
Nandhini says that her daughters have been a major inspiration behind de-cluttering both the mind and space. Her kids make her think by constantly asking questions around nature and life. “Both my children are being unschooled. We believe there is a lot that we can learn through observation and exploration than through textbooks. We measure success not by numbers but by contentment in life. In school we learn the answers first and wait for the question to emerge in life. In un-schooling we experience life; when a question arises then we explore more on it. Thus there is no need for rote learning. Children are excited and happy to learn all the time.”
“My children did not have any books and toys until they were 6 years old,” adds Nandhini. She takes them out into nature to play a lot, and travels with them frequently, making them meet a lot of people. “I do not teach them anything. We just live life to the fullest. If happiness is what I want for my children, I try to become happy myself first.”
On eating packaging-free food
It all started when Nandhini wanted to minimise the amount of garbage that went into her dustbin. And she noticed that most of the waste came from the kitchen in general; and from packaged food in particular. She says that packaged foods are the worst, “The amount of pesticides that are used in them so that they can have a longer shelf life is extremely detrimental to health.” Add to that the hazardous implications the plastic-waste has on the environment.
Another major change that they have adopted is the way they eat
“We eat raw vegan meals twice a day. They consist of fruits and vegetables. And for dinner we have a simply cooked sattvic meal,” she shares. Nandhini says they’ve never been more energetic and calm at the same time and are able to completely avoid the usage of packaged foods due to this lifestyle. They also end up saving a lot in terms of electricity, gas bills and money spent on restaurant meals.
All in all, Nandhini says minimalism it’s not rocket-science. All you need to do is ask pertinent questions to yourself. For example, if you feel having too much is making you unhappy, know that it’s time to try the opposite and see.
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)