The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari (Before Earning It) (Brijraj Desai) (MBA I Marketing A) (SIBM Pune)The story begins in a small town called Navsari in Gujarat. I was visiting my maternalgrandmother who I fondly called ‘Mamma’ during my school vacations in the 90s. It was alwayssomething I looked forward to through the schooling years. The differences between my lifethrough the academic year in metros and urban cities like Ahmedabad, Mysore, Bhopal andAurangabad and then the slow and fun paced life in Navsari during vacations were stark. Butthe part I looked forward to the most was when sometimes we would visit our ancestral propertyin Songadh Taluka, Tapi District, Gujarat State. The area was in the Dang forests region inSouth Gujarat close to the Maharashtra border.
All our domestic help there were tribal people. I distinctly remember our watchman-cum-property caretaker ‘Mangda Kaka’. He was a sprightly ‘young’ man, aged around 75 years. Hewould take me around; show me birds, animals and local plants. Once during bamboo floweringseason, he showed me a wild flower blooming and said that it would rain heavily in the eveningand continue raining for 3 days. And, lo behold! It did happen. You can imagine my excitementand the sense of awe as a kid. Such instances based on traditional wisdom also happenedwhen my cook, ‘Parvati ben’ took me to a tribal doctor. I saw myriad problems ranging fromcommon cold to spondylitis (I did not know it was spondylitis then) coming there for treatment.All through the year my social studies text books taught me that the tribal people were backwardand needed emancipation. And when I was there I saw that I needed their guidance and so didmy parents and my uncles. It was we who needed to be released from our myopic ‘scientific’logic and trust their traditional wisdom to experience life there. The natural connect of theirlifestyles, language and culture was such an extension of their life in those green surroundings.It seemed what we kept preaching about sustainability and they had assimilated it seamlessly intheir way of life. Further we were creating silos and identifying social, economic andenvironmental boundaries to slot our activities for further study. Whereas, all their activities werenaturally in sync not just socially, economically and environmentally; but rather driven by alarger spiritual guiding force. They lived by simple rules in a complex ecosystem veryharmoniously. They epitomized an ‘order in chaos’. My grandmother would narrate stories ofhow their life had stood the test of time through social changes like the Indian Independence in1947.
Now, these were my memories from the 1990s. Then came my visit to Songadh in 2009. Thescene was transforming very quickly with the new era of economic development that India hadseen. Their dressing had changed, food habits became more like the mainland and technologyhad entered their homes and lives. The new generation tribals were increasingly migrating tourban areas like Surat, Bharuch etc.This is where my dream comes in. I wanted to find out more about the Dangi way of life before itgets extinct. Also, to try and understand the viewpoints of the generation that is soon to passaway in the environs that they were born in versus those of the current aspirational generation. Ihave always believed that India is a country driven by a stronger sense of sub-conscious factorslike spiritual, cultural and social aspects which have manifestations in the material world in theform of consumption and economic activity. Can this thesis be explored in one of the oldestpeople of India; ‘the tribal Dangis’?How does Godrej LOUD help me with this?Firstly and most importantly, it’s about giving me a chance to spare time and single-mindedlyexplore the Dangi people, places and culture. It’s a race against time where the chance todiscover the flux between their traditional wisdom and impact of our modern knowledge isquickly running out.Consequently, the findings would be shared to widen perspectives and offer an alternativethought that is quickly losing its voice and character. This would be executed in the form of anexhibition at SIBM and Godrej (and based on the response to a larger audience). I am surethere are lessons here that we all know but have put them in the back-seat in our ultra-fast andwell-connected lives.Secondly, the monetary budget is mostly driven by the travel costs incurred in that region. Livingcosts will be minor due to my ancestral home already being there. A rough estimate indicatesthat under given living standards, the overall working budget would be around Rs. 50,000/-.And, that’s how I want to be the monk who sold my Ferrari before earning it and go LOUD!!!