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Living Life Off the Grid with Jeune Lobo and Avin Pais

In conversation with emerging minimalists Avin and Jeune, as they share about the invaluable lessons of unschooling, the perks of slow living, the beauty of unplanned travels, and the subtlety of mindfulness.

Meet one of those few couples across the world who’ve opted to move away from the city to live the farm life! Avin Pais and Jeune Lobo with their 8-year-old twins, Ethan and Elena, live on their riverside solar-powered and climate-friendly farm located in a small village of Mangalore. This family has embraced slow living, and has an unhurried daily routine, savouring each day and chasing the moments that will take your breath away!

Many aspects led to seeking a life away from the city’s hustle. It wasn’t a moment that inspired us,” Lobo tells Brown, “but rather, the thought that we can’t wait for retirement to live our dream life; it has to be now because tomorrow never comes.”

Farm Life: The Calm Away From the Chaos

For all the greenhorns out there who crave the farm lifestyle, here’s a piece of advice for you: “Don’t start something because you fancy it, you might end up wasting your time and resources. But if you are passionate about farming, do not let finances, time or space stop you.” Jeune firmly believes that there are hundreds of ways to work around our so-called limitations. She emphasized the need to understand your passion and our niche before we start living a minimal life. “Once you start, don’t let the impressions or expectations of others hold you down,” Lobo says.

Image: The family’s mud house on their farm located in Mangalore via Jeune Lobo

Their farm is home to many seasonal and long-term plants. From cash crops like coconut, areca nut, and cocoa, to spices like pepper, nutmeg, mace, bay leaf, wild bird’s eye chilli, and yellow, white and black turmeric; from herbs like lemongrass, brahmi, gotu kola, bhringaraj, tulsi, chirayata, basil, stevia, mint, cilantro, nelanelli, pandanus, and sweet flag, to fruits like lemon, avocado, kokum, eggfruit, passion fruit, jackfruit, rambutan, soursop, pineapple, ramphal, and bananas, to seasonal vegetables, and greens; you name it, they’ve got it! But with a big farm, there comes its own responsibilities and challenges. Climate, markets and labour are the three major factors that make the process challenging. “Another one would be attacks of wild animals.”

The Lab Farm: Experimenting With the Richness Around Us!

The family also run an initiative called The Lab Farm where they experiment with handmade home-grown products in all aspects – food, growing plants, and even health remedies. “By word of mouth and through interactions, there is more demand for these, and since then, we have been selling our limited stock with those who want to buy,” Lobo tells Brown. For the couple, the most satisfying part is when consumers who have tried their products come back assuring them that it has been better than the branded products they have been using.

The family did some research years ago and found out that trusted brands had a percentage of unwanted ingredients in processed products, due to the fact that they are all mass-produced. Jeune says, “We learnt how to heal ourselves with home remedies, but if the ingredients from our kitchen are unsafe, how would they help us?” So, the family started growing their own kitchen ingredients like turmeric, ginger, lemongrass and harvested their own honey. The cleaner the ingredients, the better the healing! The family also uses different teas made from ingredients like pomegranate peel, fennel, sage, ginger lemon, pepper, and onion to get relief from various health conditions.

Image: A turmeric salve from pure turmeric oil blended with kokum butter and beeswax for cuts, wounds, and skin irritations via Juene Lobo

Apart from these, they also make their own personal and home care products like deodorants, bio enzymes, body creams, lip balms, body scrubs, candles, hair oil, etc., a process they started years ago. Many of their recipes are tried and tested. “These are age-old remedies handed down through generations that might just get lost in this era of quick fixes and over-the-counter drugs.” They also tweak the recipes to suit the family’s needs and likes.

Unschooling and Relearning the True Meaning of Life

Juene believes that schooling, at times, curtails the creativity of a child and limits a child’s thought process directing them to one well-paved road while the untrodden paths are discouraged as being too difficult. She strongly believes that textbooks are merely part of the formal curriculum to guide a child’s education.“We as a society consider them as the Bible. A child is born curious, intelligent and resourceful.” As unschoolers, the parents have been unlearning many so-called truths that have been inculcated in us, and are relearning life, while their kids have taken on the role of teaching them the truths of life.

“I believe books can take you places. But if you have a chance, go to the place and take a book along, and cherish the experience.” says Jeune Lobo

Image: Ethan and Elena taking a camel ride during their travels via Juene Lobo

Lobo and Pais have noticed that their twins are fearless, fulfilled, and are living a no-stress childhood on their own terms. “We noticed that our kids spoke about things that we have no knowledge about; they made observations, they learned life-hacks, new languages, customs, lifestyles, food cultures, survival techniques, street smarts – all because of their senses, their thoughts, and their surroundings that challenged them,” she says.

The family has been on trips to London, Wales, Kashmir, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and many other places, but the most memorable for the style and duration of travel was their 80-day road trip from January to April 2021, in their little hatchback car. “We camped with friends, and with complete strangers, learning so much about cultures, food and customs while relearning humanity,” Lobo says. 

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“The great benefit of slowing down is reclaiming time and tranquillity to make meaningful connections — with people, with culture, with work, with nature, with our own bodies and minds.”Carl Honoré

All the new people they came across have inspired them to trust in humanity and nature, and since then, the family has travelled without fear. Unschoolers who they have never met before; never heard about – welcomed them into their homes and spaces during their travels. “This only happens when there is trust and faith, and an inborn acceptance of the goodness of humanity.” After their first unschooling family hosted them in Belgaum, the whole idea of a planned trip was deleted and the family decided to go with the flow. The allure of slow and unplanned travel has now changed their views of travel.

Image: (Left) Passion fruits and (Right) eggfruits produced at the farm via Jeune Lobo
Climate Friendly Lifestyle and Mindfulness

Being a student of fashion Jeune Lobo knows exactly how and why the concept of thrifting works. Unfortunately, many necessities of this new world that we live in are harmful to our planet. “A short column in a newspaper, a slogan on World Environment Day, a pledge for New Year’s…this is what it all boils down to these days.” However, she believes that the growing awareness helps in shifting the mindset towards a clean future. “I hope thrifting, slow fashion and the mantra of ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ will be the contributors in the hope of a better future for the coming generations.”

Living slow and choosing fewer means giving more importance to the values at the heart of everything I do.”Says Jeune Lobo

According to Lobo, the simple thought that every item or product we use is the time and effort of someone else’s and the fact that a product has already used resources for itself is a need for us to think twice, thrice or maybe 10 times before we buy it, how we use it, and before we discard it! Slow living has helped Jeune and her family clear the clutter from their lives. Juene and her family see the necessity in reducing their carbon footprint, becoming environment-friendly, and keeping toxic substances away from their surroundings.

Image: Ethan and Elena performing artwork via Juene Lobo

In their quest for a simpler, cleaner life, they’ve learnt to live without the need for doctors or a fridge, and growing their own food, to being self-sufficient in many other aspects. The fridge is not a part of the family’s routine, nor is the AC, wonder why? She explains, “We have learnt to live without a fridge as it has its own added advantage of not wasting food, of mindful eating, and eating fresh.” The AC is also not part of their house, because the house is built to be climate-friendly and their food helps them naturally maintain body temperatures. Their solar-powered house also lets them enjoy using all the electronic appliances they need. “The internet and connected devices are and will be a part of our lives. It’s just that we don’t let them control us,” Lobo tells Brown.

The essence of mindful living is in giving the best you have today, and hoping the best will come your way in the future.”Says Jeune Lobo

Jeune further added that intentional living has made them more present, have healthier relationships, and have better physical, mental and emotional health. “I have been able to find myself, grow confident as an adult, and now, I finally feel able to not just receive but also give back to society in many ways.”

Living with Nature and being connected in various aspects is what keeps Juene and her family grounded; it’s what gives their lives meaning. As human beings, we all get our fair share of all the goodness nature has to offer! As John Lewis rightly says: “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” Jeune and Avin are doing their parts towards a clean and breathable future. Let us do our parts too!

Written By

I love to bring out extraordinary stories of ordinary people. Also, have a knack for sarcasm and a sucker for travel and food big time!

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