A bearded man walks into our office unnoticed with a backpack. He sits in a corner and takes out a bunch of coconut leaves and starts to create toys. He first makes a fish, then a bird and a ball. Soon, most adults flock to him as excited children. His hands continue to work deftly and create a bracelet, which he ties on a lady’s hand. Next, pop out a pair of glasses which is placed on another’s face!
Meet Nowshid Parammal, who is on a mission to propagate simplicity and sustainability amongst children and adults. “I have a dream of having a place where a person can experience freedom, self realisation, develop skills and practice health and peace. And I believe we can achieve this by being one with nature, which weaves more than teaching this craft,” starts Nowshid, who shares his life’s journey.
“I always wanted to be a designer. Changing designs and packaging was my passion. I tried to get into NID (National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad), but that did not work out. So, I trained myself in graphic designs and performed different jobs. You name it and I’ve done it,” says the young man, who finally landed in the world of advertisement.
“Advertising caught my attention. It included telling stories and influencing people. I found it a strong medium,” states Nowshid, who created many print ads for brands like Britannia and Mantri. After four years of glitter and glamour, Nowshid “woke up one day and thought ‘what was I doing?’ I suddenly felt I was trying living a life that was true to myself and my beliefs. Even though the money was good, I was unhappy. At the end of the day I was just selling advertisements, whether there was truth in it or not. That got me thinking and I quit that field overnight,” narrates the young man, who, then, struggled to search for his passion and identity. His search ended after meeting Ashok, who “lived a simple life on his farm in Kerala and created toys, baskets and hats, weaving coconut leaves. His lifestyle impressed me so much that I too downsized my lifestyle and needs. I gave away most of my clothes and things and retained only the basic. I even changed my eating habits. Slowly, I became a stranger to my friends and family.”
To keep himself “floating” financially, Nowshid started conducting workshops, where he taught people how to crafts toys with the leaves and once in a while freelances as a graphic designer too.
“I realised you can live without money and be happy. These are toys which are familiar to most rural children in Kerala. They play with whatever is available around them. But, city children are only exposed to technology, concrete buildings or the television. They don’t get a chance to explore themselves or their surroundings,” says Nowshid as he weaves a ball and a basket. “I know this ball can not replace a tennis ball, but, you learn a new craft and you are making it with your own hands.”
He adds that he has two motives about popularising this craft — to tell people that there was a time when we lived sustainably and were self-reliant. And that we can still do it and get out of this consumerist culture. I only hope that parents instead of pushing their children to own and win the world, would rather work on their character, skills, understand his intuitive skills. I believe a parent is a facilitator, allowing an entirely new possibility to come into this world, please don’t condition your children to your beliefs and fear... instead, teach them freedom and love and help them to dance with existence,” sums up Nowshid, who has conducted workshops in Kavade Attic and Lahe Lahe in the past.
(He will conduct a workshop on August 26 at Shoonya, Lal Bagh Road, from 9am to 1pm. You can follow him on facebook.com/natureweaves)