A day at Aditya Arya's Farm - an inspiring journey of a photographer becoming a farmer || by Vibha Malhotra

Having one's own farmhouse is one of the most popular fantasies of people working in the corporate sector. We dream of living a simpler life in the lap of nature, growing crops, fruit, vegetables, rearing animals and having that quaint little house surrounded by beautiful flowers. This picture is far prettier than our everyday realities of staying cooped up in glass buildings, stressing about deadlines, attending late night meetings, and competing for position, money, and power. The result is the incredible popularity of farming games such as Farmville, Hay-Day etc. 

It is a wonder then that out of so many people who dream of owning a farmhouse, only a handful actually take the first step. The reason is very clear. While dreaming is easy, taking care of land, crops, and animals is perhaps the most difficult and physically demanding profession. But there are some people who brave it all. Not only that, they go that extra mile of doing everything on their own, including laying the bricks to build the house. 

When Aditya Arya bought land in a remote village in Haryana, he knew fully well what he was signing up for. Unpredictable electric supply, erratic water pipeline, and an unfamiliar environment were just the tip of the iceberg. Finding labour who were willing to work hard was a huge challenge, even when he was ready to pay them a fair wage. After a few initial attempts at hiring people to cut rocks and lay bricks, Aditya decided to learn the art himself and make his dreams a reality with his own two hands (with some help from a friend from the village). The result is a stunning two-storey house with a high domed ceiling. He has chosen to let the walls be bare and the bricks and stones stand out as a testimony to the love and labour that went into making this dream possible. Today the rocky structure graciously allows madhumalati creepers to scale its height.

Saplings that he planted 25 years ago have now grown into tall trees, and while these attract birds and insects (many of them are fruit trees such as mulberry, chinese orange, bel), they also serve as a stark reminder that not all dreams come true. Most of these trees were planted in groups of three, with an idea of building tree houses when they would eventually grow. However, nature had her own plans and while some of these trees grew tall, others didn't grow as much, making it impossible for them to support the tree houses. And today though the tree houses remain a dream, the trees nevertheless are a reality, giving shelter and fruit and plenty of happiness to Aditya who often spends his weekends sleeping in their shade.

After a round of beer and kebabs, and a quick lunch in the open, we headed out to his fields. He grows everything and anything that catches his fancy. When we visited his farmhand had just planted pumpkins. Potatoes, onions, carrots, spinach were ready for harvest. We tried our hands at it and managed to harvest a few potatoes. Freshly harvested land was ready for tilling. Aditya uses a small hand tractor, which looks cute till you try to use it. Once turned on, it transforms into a beast that with require all your skills and energy to maneuver. With the day drawing to a close, the beast had to be brought home, and this is where VJ tried his hand at it.

Back in the farm, we enjoyed the cool evening breeze while sipping on the quintessential chai with crackers. And this is when we spotted the ever elusive hornbills. Hopping among the foliage, these birds popped in and out of our view. Apart from the hornbills, we also saw babblers, plenty of crows, a male koel, and even a female koel being chased away by a female crow. It was bliss, it was paradise, but it hadn't been acquired overnight. And that was the magic of it. When someone puts his heart and soul into something, nurturing his dreams with his sweat and blood, the result has to be magical, spectacular.

As we started to leave after the tea, Aditya ordered the entire harvest of the day to be loaded into our car.He also snipped some beautiful pink roses from his blooming rose bush and packed them for us. We drove home with a bootfull of spinach, potatoes, salad, turnips, onions, and cabbages. I drove nearly 200 kilometers that day, but at the end of the day, the experience had left us feeling exhilarated and inspired. It is easy to dream, but you have to be prepared to give everything you can to turn the dream into a reality. But once you are past that stage, once your dream starts bearing fruit, you can sit back and relax, and be proud, very proud, of what you have managed to create.  

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