To say that corporate image and grooming consultants Yatan Ahluwalia and partner Edward (Jojo) Mendonca are literally living their dream, is putting it mildly.
They are, in fact, living every urbanite’s fantasy of being king of a faraway hill while still very much a part of the real world simultaneously.
During six months of the year, with things reaching a crescendo between May and September end (with spillovers as the need arises), they are frenzied travelers, flying between cities and states, from hotel to airline, from banks to jewelry chain shops, and from hospitals to corporate offices, training, talking, persuading people to bring out the best in themselves. Business is very good indeed as the duo have been first movers in an area of expertise, the need for which seems to be going through the roof currently.
It is a hectic high-pressure existence, made bearable only by one thing. Periodically, they go home. Which is a farm cottage on top of a hill (“Not too high, just 2,200 feet above sea level,” says Yatan), at the junction of three states, J&K, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab.
Ten acres of jungle turned their own paradise, found three years ago after looking for six and nearly giving up their dream of living somewhere beautiful and quiet.
“And connected,” says Yatan pointedly. For it makes sense to have the best of both worlds.
So Home, in Kangarh village overlooking the Kangra valley, between Dalhousie and Dharamshala, is all wired up, internet connections working very well, thank you, and when clients want them, they just fly out and fly back to their idyll. Though Yatan is wont to say, “What idyll, it’s hard work!”
With seven dogs, a small staff and their own labour, they have gone back to nature with a vengeance, and the two years they have lived there fulltime has not dulled the radiance.
“We live off the land as far as possible. It’s our own butter, ghee, cheese, we grow wheat, vegetables, mustard, even avocadoes, and have planted our own olive trees,” says Yatan. There are more than 2,500 trees on the property now, and these include 36 varieties of fruit, with Yatan and Jojo enjoying their “first flush of peaches” last season. It’s 25 km to Pathankot and rice is bought in the malls – as of now!
The farm depends completely on rain water harvesting for its needs, life is good, the village of ten houses (the farmhouse is just the eleventh!) is happy and flourishing, and the stars have to be seen to be believed at night. And then Yatan delivers the punch line oh so casually.
“Very soon in the future, we will be going off the grid.” And when you gape, he explains, “Windmill and solar panels. We’ll be putting them in so we are truly self-sufficient.”
Just thinking of the place tends to make one ache with longing, so we are planning to go just to stop the pain.