A mind that has a mind of its own, an enviable lean physique, and a spirit that thrives on the simple pleasures of life. In our quest to celebrate individuality, we stumbled upon Aman Chaudhary, an entrepreneur who is a farmer at heart, a 4 a.m. friend for his buddies and a doting father to two lovely children.
As we spoke, Aman came across as the quintessential easygoing guy-next-door who believes in the simple rule of “Live and Let Live”. Though there was much to learn about this urban monk, the first thing we wanted to know was his secret fitness mantra.
Here’s excerpts from our tête-à-tête with Mr. Aman Chaudhary.
T18: What keeps you looking like this? We are guessing it’s a special secret diet and grueling hours at the gym every morning.
On the contrary, I am really not a fitness freak. I was born in a small village in Sriganganagar district in Rajasthan.Thanks to my upbringing, I have been fit all my life. I do visit the gym every day since most of my friends come there. I guess that is why I am perceived as this fitness crazy guy who works on his six-pack every day. The gym is a high energy place and I get to be with like-minded people. Since I have always been a sportsman and a teetotaler, I can manage to stay lean without much effort.
I live a discplined life. My father is a disciplined and highly energetic man. He sent all his children to boarding school, I guess that was his way of inculcating discipline in the five of us. I would like to say it did work, at least for me.
T18: But you are a travel freak for sure, right?
Yes, you can call me that. Travelling is my only addiction.
After graduation, I wanted to join the army. I cleared the written exam three times but could not clear the interview. It was in Bangalore that I got rejected the third time. That left me really heart broken and I didn’t want to come back home. So a friend booked me a trip to Ooty and Mysore and asked me to take some time off, doing nothing.
I stayed there in budget hotels and roamed the tea estates, till I was ready to come back. This trip did me some real good. I think this was the time when I realized what travelling can do to you. It’s like therapy.
I have travelled extensively across Europe, the Middle East and Asia, backpacking into the small, obscure towns which usually don’t figure on a tourist’s itinerary. My wife is more of a home body, so many of my trips have been solo, sometimes with friends who don’t mind rugged holidays minus the luxury of the 7-star hotels.
T18: What makes your friends call you an urban monk?
I guess it’s because they don’t see me running after fame or success or truck loads of money.
I am as much a friend to a rickshaw puller as to my millionaire brat pack. Why, because I have no expectations from anyone. I am satiated with what I have, and with God’s blessings I have enough to give my children a comfortable life.
See, if my daily expenditure is Rs. 300 and I have Rs.350 in my pocket, then what difference does it make to me if my friends have millions? I don’t crave luxury. All I crave is good and honest friendships. I don’t hurt people deliberately and I don’t tolerate hurtful behavior. If someone has a problem or tries to act funny, I simply let them go, because, again, I don’t feel the need to please people.
I’ve been lucky to have found some really good friends in the past few years. There are some who are no more a part of my life, but I still miss them. Friendships are forever, I believe.
Steven Rudolph, who has been friends with Aman for the past 5 years, describes him as a generous and down-to-earth person who will go all out to help people, expecting nothing in return.
T18: Tell us about your love for farming.
Farming is in my blood. From 1997 to 2000, after I returned from Bangalore, I did hardcore farming. I was selected to join the Territorial Army but I decided to forego the opportunity. I grew an orange orchard in my farm, planting each sapling with my own hands.
See in farming, there is something called disguised unemployment. Ten members of the same family can work on the same piece of land with no increase in productivity. So if I was going to do it, I had to do some value addition.
In my eyes, I am a non-entity. Mine is a simple life, no larger than life ambitions, no extraordinary achievements, and hardly any light bulb moments. Whatever I am is because of my parents. My father wanted me to be a Collector or a DSP, but he toned down his expectations according to my interests and respected my decisions.
We moved to Gurgaon after my daughter was born so that we could give her the exposure and the best of opportunties big cities have to offer. As for myself, my heart and soul still belong to my village.
I visit my farms often, we go on week long vacations where I spend most of my time getting my hands dirty in the soil or meeting people around the village. Someday I will go back to my roots, for good.
T18: How has it been, living in the urban jungle?
I think people here lack satisfaction, there is a lot of anxiety and showoff. Life in the village is much simpler. Many people miss the old times, but few admit it. We should admit that we loved life when it was simpler, when we had fewer choices, when families were closer. Those are the day that I truly cherish.
See, if you have a lot of money but you are not satisfied, it’s all useless. I know people who work hard on projecting an image. They don’t live for themselves, they live for the society.
I feel it is also because when someone goes through hardships, they realize that if you have no money, you have no power. So it becomes a habit to sort of exude and assert that power through materialistic acquisitions. All I know is that you have to be true to yourself and show your real self to the world.
T. Douliamang, Aman’s friend for the past 12 years, says Aman is one of the most easygoing people he has ever met. “We are more like brothers. Aman is a great guy and not just me, my family also knows they can count on him as if he is their own.”
T18: Has being a father played a part in the way you live your life?
In fact the way my wife and I have been brought up has had a huge impact on the way we raise our children. Since both of us come from a rural setting, culture and tradition are rooted in our family life. I have tried to give my children a grounded upbringing. They must behave the same way with my driver or the security guard as they do with my friends. Physical activity is a must. Showing off and brand-consciousness are a strict no.
I am glad that I had my children when I was young. I am more of a friend to them and it’s another level of fun to be able to do the same mischiefs together.
“He is not my dad, he is like my big brother. I call him Brother and he loves it. He loves us a lot and takes us places, he helps with my homework, he plays football with me. He never scolds me unless I have doen something really wrong. I love my dad.” Says, 8 year old footballer Evan about his dad.
12 year old Tanushi loves her daddy the most. “He is funny, he is not strict and he teaches us to be fit and active. He is the coolest.”
I don’t think much about the future, I don’t have much ambition. I just want to make sure my children don’t have to give up on things because of financial limitations. With God’s grace, I am able to provide employment to 30 people. They are happy working with me, and with the blessings of their families, I am able to earn enough for them and for my own family. All is well!
There’s more to this guy than he would like to divulge, we found out that Aman has pledged his organs at ORBO (Organ Retrieval Banking Organization at AIIMS, New Delhi. He also sponsors a child’s education through the SOS Children’s Village. He is truly “Being Human” personified..