Reva Malik and Ranjan Malik
Amla is our home – a small piece of land (50ft x 60ft) on which we – Reva and Ranjan, live in a mudhouse. We are attempting to go back to being natives of nature. To reconnect with the elements and mend the broken energy cycles.
We run our firm, Primalise from here. The firm helps businesses and institutions find congruence. Congruence between their purpose and their pursuits – conceiving innovative strategies that are rooted in their cultural ethos.
‘Living your being’ is how we describe the Primalise philosophy. And that’s what we are attempting to follow in this house. We are working towards making this small dwelling completely self-sustaining – growing our own food, harvesting our own water and being part of the nature’s magical cycles.
We follow the circadian rhythm and do not use usual conveniences that are considered standard in a modern urban household. There is no electric wiring or plumbing in our house and most things are operated manually. In terms of resource usage, our aim is to be net positive. Through this we plan to arrive at a clear definition for our concept MVH – Minimum Viable Home. The minimum resources that a home needs to keep a family of two in vibrant health.
Our guiding philosophy while setting up our home has been: everyday living must nourish us enough physically, mentally and socially, so that we aren’t dependent on artificial supplements like gyms and other such deliberate wellbeing related interventions.
For us, our home must help us connect with the elements meaningfully rather than insulate and distance us us from them.
In this chronicle we record our everyday experiences and realisations.
Amla is a small house on a small piece of land in the city of Bangalore.
We named it Amla after the Nellikai tree that we planted here before we began building the mud-house; the tree has been thriving and doing really well.
So well that we have had to find ingenious ways to preserve the bounty – we’ve been making pickles, nellekai arishtham – traditional wine and dehydrated amla.
A third of this 50ft x 60ft area is built and the rest is green thanks to fruit trees and vegetable plants.
The house is essentially just one space. Call it whatever-room – we relax, work, cook and just be in this area; the mezzanine is our ‘office’.
A pinewood staircase is our commute to the office. The mezzanine opens up into a little terrace that offers us a vantage bird’s eye view of most of Amla. It also has a critical function – helping us harness the sun for our cooking. The solar cooker, together with our chulha – the wood-stove, is our primary mode of cooking.
The only other built areas are the two gravel beds that treat our grey water and produce nourishing, value added water for our plants, complete with rich fish excreta. Guppies and algae eaters live in the treated grey water reservoir. Enriching it and also performing the critical ecosystem service of keeping mosquitos and algae in check. Before the water reaches the fish tanks, it goes through gravel, the cattail-canna root zones and coal.
Life in Amla mostly happens, not indoors but in the agla and pichhla vedas – open areas in the front and the back. Or next to the chicken coop and pen under the gasagase hannina mara – Jam Fruit tree, bonding with Kaali, Chitti, our hens and the four chicks. The pichhla veda has our hand-pump – the only source of water, that pumps harvested rainwater from our sump. This part of Amla gets the morning sun rays and we often sit here to prepare for the two cooked meals of the day.