Mango groves, ridge-gourd plantations and a wide range of vegetable crops welcome you en route former Indian women’s cricket captain and coach Purnima Rau’s home at Mulugu, located 40 km from Hyderabad.
A couple of years ago, Purnima had decided to settle down in her two-acre farmhouse that’s tucked away from the city’s traffic snarls and pollution. Once there, she took up organic farming for the love of it.
“I am back to the pavilion,” she starts off laughing. “I grew up catching butterflies in my garden during my childhood. My grandfather was the former director of Public Gardens in Hyderabad, so I was always surrounded by information about plants. And I spent 90 per cent of the time in farming.”
A natural transformation
For someone who’s been playing, practising, coaching and mentoring players, Purnima states that living close to the nature has transformed her completely. “I was a very aggressive player and a coach, but farming has made me appreciative of several things in life, which are with me now. It has healed a lot of wounds and has made me feel contended with what I have, and developed a sense of gratitude. My old friends who meet me now say they see a new me,” says Purnima.
Then offering us cups of lemongrass green tea, she walks us through her two-acre farm, pointing out the kind of vegetables and fruits that grow there. “I may not be competing fiercely out there, but I experience the same emotional gratification I had while playing for the country,” says Purnima, adding that life at Mulugu is as good as playing for Team India.
That Santa Claus feeling
The farm uses cattle manure and cow dung in the compost as natural fertiliser which ensures that nothing goes waste and everything in the farm is recycled. The excess of harvest from her farm, Purnima distributes to her friends, neighbours, cricket players, relatives and farmers.
“I feel like Santa Claus 365 days,” she chuckles, adding, “But honestly, the unconditional love I’ve found in my cows here, the harmonious environment and the feeling of staying close to Mother Nature…all of it add to the joy of giving I experience.”
But it’s not just a farm that flourishes under her watch. Post her stint as the Team India coach, Purnima also mentored women cricket teams for Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Baroda, Hyderabad and Sikkim. “I am glad that several cricketers under my mentorship have made it to Team India. It’s a nice feeling to be grooming and helping state cricket association in finding talent,” expresses Purnima, who is now set to work with the Arunachal Pradesh team.
In cricket, what excites the 50-year-old is the mix of physiological and psychological aspects of the game. “There are several fascinating aspects of the game like being on the ground, sweating out with the players, understanding them, players’ technique, psychology, etc. All of those appeal to me,” she says as she signs off.