Life ‘n’ Living series is a treasure that brings to the fore many wonderful, creative souls who are passionate about their work and all that they do. We often look at the outside world for role models but if we look around, there are so many inspiring people who are constantly working upon themselves and creating a better world to those around. May the series support our inner transformation and motivate us to simply create ,enjoy life and living.
Nisha Bhimaiah is a person with varied interests (like me :D) – she is a motivation to the young and old. Her Kokedama art is simply beautiful and this art and few conversations drew me towards publishing this interview.
1.Share some glimpses of your childhood that established your deep connection with Nature.I was born in the pristine land, Kodagu, my roots!
By blood I am a true-blue farmer. My ancestors are warriors and farmers. My great grandfather began agriculture in a bigger way followed by his 5 sons (one among them was my grandfather) who were all very hard-working, meticulous and intelligent farmers. My home was nestled among vast stretches of Coffee Estates, Paddy Fields and Vegetable Farms.
Our early years were lived in a huge bungalow that was hosting 5 families(siblings living in joint family) and several sub-families of the lineage, most of them practiced agriculture. We were surrounded by tall trees, rivers and streams that flowed through these stretches as if they belonged to us, or we belonged to them. We spent a great deal of our childhood and playtime only in nature. Fishing, catching crabs were like our routine activities. Foraging for wild food, berries and fruits despite cultivation of our own farm vegetables were common activities for us (even till date we do this instinctively!). The mountains, rivers, streams and paddy fields were our everyday play-fields. Every day was an adventure for us to explore and we watched our people do the agriculture.
We were sent off to residential schools at a very young age, since schooling from remote villages was tough and there were no quality schools nearby. We did begin our schooling journey in city schools, however we (my siblings and I) were soon fortunate to become students in a beautiful school that was nestled atop small hills and jungles. Our school life was again within the realms of pristine nature and our life revolved within the green covered environs. Therefore it all just became a part of our DNA.
However, like many other human contradictions, the other side of the grass appeared to be looking more greener when we stepped into adulthood. So city life beckoned us and we decided to pitch our lives in the city, and got used to the other luxuries of city. Currently we feel caught in between the two, so making best of both the worlds seemed like the most innovative and appropriate option. Although we gave up on day-to-day farming activities after living in cities and by practicing other vocations, our parents still protected agriculture and farming and at all points of time ensured we continue the legacy, and take over sooner or later. Except the fact that farming is still a difficult vocation for us, our support system is poor and the other vocations are more respected and are lucrative, that keeps us pinned or keeps us conflicted about moving back full time.
Given all these factors, with city life and my other passions and career, I began developing an additional beautiful career/business for myself, of bringing greenies as an artwork by creating art from plants and developed it into a retail product. It was an extension of my services of designing gardens and landscapes, practicing urban farming and aiding others in growing food in urban scenarios.
NIRVANA is a family brand name. Our business mainly encompasses coffee retail (and other natural produces), with the objective of bringing Indian Coffee on the global map. My small venture NIRVANA Kokedamas birthed alongside. Most materials that we use for NIRVANA KOKEDAMAS comes from our pristine plantations. It’s a great pleasure to bring this piece of earth to many homes across our country. In our excessively polluted cities, getting a piece of clean earth can be very soul soothing. It can change the energies and vibrations of the space to a great magnitude, and offer much needed solace to the Green Lovers.
2.You have so many diverse interests – what is your favorite role/experience?
My diverse interests is a part of my personality attribute. Usually considered as inconsistency, or as unfocused and mostly non-acceptable trait in our socio-economic culture, where having mixed interests and abilities are frowned upon, it took me great courage to break these barriers, and live every part of the diversity I am made up of. It is still tough because other people struggle from an identity crisis of me and understanding who I am : )
Living in a city which also meant having a job/career that would bring income; and having this great inclination to be with people and to work with them, and a childhood flair for psychology and humanities led me to take up Counseling, Life Skills Coaching and Mentoring as my primary profession, and thus corporate training and development was/is my means for daily bread. Working with children, particularly adolescents was another calling and it was easier to diversify into the same field, hence my work with schools and colleges go parallel. Healing and Counseling Therapy was a quintessential part of my job, and something I am made up of since childhood. I was known to be the Agony Aunt offering help to people in emotional or cognitive distress. So that continues.
I needed to stick to a more defined field for many years despite my other interests and creativity, only due to the social norms and acceptance. But these inherent qualities and traits don’t allow you to be something and do something for too long, without catering to itself. So it all began kicking up more and more stronger and I had to pick up lots of my other interests quietly by covering up and not exposing the other. Until one day I had to come out and declare that I do diverse things, and I need to do them. Now it’s easier, once I had the courage to accept it. Practicing Theatre helped me a lot with this process of acceptance, not just by shedding my inhibitions but also tearing up the masks and dismantling the façade. Theatre has been my other flair from the time I was a child, and finally that is what freed me when I took it up more seriously. With that I could embrace as many quirks of mine and follow my heart in doing and balancing each of it.
Now to come to the main question – what’s my favorite role or experience, the answer is – it is the WHOLE, one cannot be separated from the other. Each of this is interconnected in my sense of being. It’s a whole, and not in parts for me. I believe in Systems Theory, Metaphysics, Quantum Mysticism. So for me everything is inter-connected, I see connection in all that I do, though it appears diverse.
3.What is Kokedama? Is it a more sustainable option as against a regular planter?
Kokedama is an ancient Japanese art. Currently, it’s practiced in many countries and a very new concept to India. Loosely translated to Moss Ball, these are house plants , herbs and bonsai trees grown in handmade moss balls.
Kokedama is a sustainable option because it’s handmade from natural resources and biodegradable materials.
If we view it as a product, it becomes a beautiful piece of art that can be got for homes and other living spaces as beautifying display items. It’s a great gift option since there are no hard materials that ultimately go to the landfills at any stage of its life cycle. Kokedamas go straight back to earth once it’s life is over, if its life is over. If nurtured carefully it can be made everlasting.
It’s a very versatile product and can be displayed in varieties of styles. It can easily replace several artefacts or decorative items we would buy and fill up our homes. It can help establish an entire home garden, and cater to smallest gardening spaces by allowing one to include many species of plants even in limited spaces. It’s clean and green, and works as a natural air-purifier inside homes.
Human beings have this natural tendency to be attracted to plants and experience love for them, which is called Biophilia. Having plants around us makes us relaxed and less stressed. Even gifting a plant incites mental well-being.
Plants have therapeutic properties, and Kokedamas can be a very good choice for such gifting due to its portability, and it’s eco-system.
The care and nurturing of Kokedamas is very easy , only one has to get the hang of it. It’s an eco-system by itself, providing a plethora of experiences to the person who nurtures it, serving the purpose and benefits of house plants in a home space, in other personal spaces and indoor garden spaces.
Not just that, Kokedamas are a storehouse of spiritual lessons. The experiences enables people to connect themselves with nature, forming a mystical, metaphysical connection to nature, both to ones outer nature as well as ones own inner nature.
4.Which is your favorite place that inspires you?
For me it has to be home, or spaces that feels like home to me. Inherently, I am a home loving person. Everything for me begins (and also ends) from within, in my comfort zone Home. My body, mind and spirit is also home for me.
The outsides or the exteriors are lessor endearing and relevant to me.
So it’s “Home” that inspires me most. 5.What are your go to resources?
Resources are spread far and wide for me. Although learning by experiences are my best resource, I am quite an academic person too. I love reading, experiencing and learning.
While my early lessons were all learnt from books, magazines , papers and experiences (other than formal schooling), now we have the world wide web to reach for and connect to. I am a self directed learner, so I create my own learning modules often and I am extremely diligent when it comes to learning and self-training. I pick up several subjects regularly to learn and delve deep into. I enroll myself and do several small time courses to keep myself updated. It is also to quench my curiosity and thirst for learning newer things.
I believe in people-resources a lot, I bank on people, so my network is large, and rich with people from diverse interests and background, both in real and virtually.6.What steps do you take towards a sustainable lifestyle? Why do you think it is important?
In our home every step we take is towards a sustainable lifestyle. We see sustainable living as a greater good for mankind and a good karma to practice for ourselves. We realized its importance a few years back, despite being inherently deeply connected to our environment.
Now it’s become a habit for us, after consciously practicing for many years. For every product or item we buy or utilize we do with mindfulness. We try to almost always assess the cradle-to-grave process and lifecycle of the items we use, so that we can create least carbon footprints as much as we can. We try and stick to materials that are mostly in its natural form and are least processed, or least manufactured or those which are least fancy-fied. I cannot say that we are living a lifestyle of ascetics, we do embrace luxurious living, but for every aspect a great amount of thoughtfulness would go into it, minimizing the effects on this materialistic world, and materialistic consumption. Eg: Buying our daily vegetables from our local nearby vegetable vendor or from a farmers market than a supermarket. This way the farmer/vendor sustains herself/himself as well, and the supply chain and business model of smaller merchants are less complicated and simple, hence making the process simpler.