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PROVOKE Lifestyle|June 2020
ASHA PRAKASH DISCOVERS THE NATURALIST LIFE OF ELDO PACHILAKKADAN, A MODEL THAT MIGHT MAKE SENSE IN A POST-COVID-19 WORLD
ASHA PRAKASH

As I talk to Eldo Pachilakkadan, he has just finished his lunch – half a jackfruit. But then, for Eldo, there is no such thing as lunch and dinner. When he is hungry, he plucks a few fruits from his garden and eats them, just like the birds or squirrels around him.

Incidentally, his ‘garden’, named Swargam, is a mountaintop situated 4,300feet above sea level in the Western Ghats, in Idukki district, Kerala. Swargam in Malayalam means heaven, and heaven it is indeed. From the peak, one can often witness the rare phenomenon of a sea of clouds beneath, engulfing the mountain. Around 100 varieties of fruits grow in the 40-acre property which has a lush green valley as well, where Eldo lives in his tent. His army of cats, dogs and their babies, all of whom have gleaming healthy coats from a diet consisting solely of raw meat, roam around freely in Swargam where the climate is perpetually cool.

But then, Eldo isn’t someone totally cut off from humanity; he is completely updated on all news and happenings, is connected to the internet at all times, and almost always has his family, friends and visitors over. So he got to hear about COVID-19 and the lockdown but is untouched by the fear and the mad scramble for essentials. The only difference for him is that he hasn’t been getting visitors like usual as travel was restricted.

His wife and children, who live in Ernakulam, also had to skip their weekend visits to Swargam. But Eldo says he is happy doing what he loves best, living amidst nature, taking care of his fruit garden, reading and writing. The lockdown, he hopes, will make people better aware of what he actually constitutes ‘essentials’, and the need to be self-sufficient in a sustainable manner.

Eldo is not a vegetarian nor a vegan, and no fruitarian either. He is someone who believes that most ills of modern society can be attributed to the way humans have deviated from how nature intended them to live, according to their geographical location. “Kerala has been described as a ‘food forest’ by European historians who visited us centuries ago. The original inhabitants here must have eaten the foods most available to them, to their taste, which could be consumed as it is – fruits. That is the reason why I have opted for fruits as the major part of my diet,” he says.

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