Most people dream of settling in metro cities due to the facilities available there. But a few like Narendra Pitale choose to live a peaceful life in a village with limited resources despite knowing all the glories a metro can provide.
An engineer who worked in Pune and Mumbai, this 59-year-old decided to settle in a village called Shilimb after retirement. He also said no to all luxuries and built a house out of clay and recycled materials. His love for nature not only paved the way for a cost-effective and innovative space but also a peaceful way of living.
“It was not an overnight decision. I used to love such houses from my childhood and have read enough about it,” says Narendra.
Narendra worked as a mechanical engineer. Apart from engineering, he did consultancy work too. But he was never satisfied and was also an avid reader of agriculture and ecology.
“I was so interested in ecology that I even pursued a course in it during work. It brought me many realisations including that of a sustainable lifestyle. The life we lead is not good for nature. I got a sense of responsibility which was followed by this decision to move from metros to somewhere close to nature,” says Narendra.
The course he did in ecology during 2004 was the turning point of his life. His love for trekking also made him realise the calmness of nature. During weekends and holidays, Narendra would stay in a nearby village and he also attributes this as a reason to growing closer to nature.
One of his friends informed him about his 20 acre land in a village called Shilimb near Lonavala.
“I remember elders telling us children that the best job is agriculture followed by business and every other job comes after these. But all of us are doing the exact opposite today which is to be changed,” adds Narendra.
This prompted Narendra to build an agro-tourism centre on his friend’s land. Thereafter he planned to build a house in another village and work from there.
“I was simultaneously building a nice eco-tourist centre for my friend and a small eco-friendly house for myself,” reminisces Narendra.
The construction of his house was completed within three months. The 500-square-foot house consists of a bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and verandah and costs Rs 2 lakh.
The house is made of mud and locally-sourced recyclable items. Second-hand products were also collected from a scrap dealer to be used in it. The doors, windows and roof tiles are all second-hand. He used local curvy wood to construct the walls in which mud mortar was used.
The most surprising feature about this eco-friendly house is that only a sack of cement was used for its construction, which was used for the bathroom.
The floor is made of clay on which cow dung is smeared every three months. Due to the use of mud mortar, the house remains cool even during summer. Apart from this, he has also installed 100-watt solar panels, which takes care of the daily electricity consumption.
Narendra left his consultancy work four months ago. He says, “I used to travel to Pune for work often. That’s why I couldn’t make a kitchen garden. Now that I am always here, there is plenty of time to look after my garden.”
Narendra’s wish is to help people build eco-friendly houses. “Many people are interested but afraid at the same time of building sustainable homes. Safety and durability are their major concerns. But the foremost priority is to be given to changing the mindset of people. This can eventually lead to a change in lifestyle that protects our nature,” he concludes.
Read this story in Hindi here.
(Edited by Yoshita Rao)