Susheel Nair is the founder of ‘Vriksh’ – a restaurant-cum-wellness space in Yelahanka, North Bangalore. Moving from a 15 year career in the corporate world, he’s now on the path of running what he calls an ‘enlightened enterprise’.
Vriksh is a place I visit frequently. The first time I walked into Vriksh, it was instant love; yes I fell in love with the space. And have come here often since then. Vriksh is surrounded by trees all around. The restaurant on the open terrace itself houses many plants. I love the earthen lamps too. The staff is very friendly and personable. Food is cooked with utmost attention to health. Vriksh has a meditation and yoga space run on the ground level.
Vriksh also hosts Seva Café once a month. (Seva Café is Nipun Mehta’s experiment where each person stepping into the restaurant is treated as a guest. There is no concept of a bill, your meal is paid for by previous guests. You can pay for the next guests if you wish to continue the chain of random generosity. Entirely volunteer driven, Seva Café first started out as an experiment in peer-to-peer generosity in Berkeley, California, and has a full time restaurant in this format functioning in Ahmedabad. Vriksh, voluntarily decided to bring this experience to Bangalore which now has more than 400 volunteers for this once-a-month festival of kindness.)
In conversation with Susheel who takes us through how life brought him to where he is today-
“I was born and brought up in Chennai. Dropped out of college and belonging to a family in the apparel export business, learnt the trade earlier on and a large company hired me. I had a 14 year long career in the apparel industry. I was part of the senior management team. The money was good. 7 years ago, I got married to Kapila, the love of my life. She was in the field of advertising. We were a busy corporate couple but were having a good life together. Like our friends, we would also work hard and party harder. It was going very well. But a void started to fill my heart. I couldn’t figure the reason for this void. Around the same time, I found a book on Amma’s (Kapila’s mom) bookshelf ‘Many lives many masters’ by Dr Brian Weiss, an American psychiatrist. I met his protégé Dr. Newton in Hyderabad. That was just the beginning of my spiritual journey. One book led to another and I’ve read several books since then.
It led me to ask myself some very important questions. Why am I doing what I’m doing and so on? Kapila started treading on the same path as me. We were introduced to discovering divinity within all of us. We started meditating and reflected on our lives. I could see my life more clearly. I could distinguish between what made me superficially happy and things that made me genuinely happy. I was married only for a year then and decided to quit my job. Kapila was very supportive because she understood my quest. I knew I didn’t want to continue working in the corporate sector. I decided I wanted to work where nature surrounded me. I wanted to have enough money to have a decent livelihood. I wanted to continue to learn and practice my spiritual knowledge. Within 5 months of quitting my job, I landed a job just like how I had wished and was entrusted the responsibility of managing a resort in the outskirts of Bangalore. Kapila and I moved to the resort which was called ‘Our Native Village’ resort. We offered Ayurvedic treatments, meditation and naturopathy to all our guests. I earned a fraction of what I earned in Chennai but I was deeply satisfied. Our staff was deeply fulfilled too, for the four years we ran the resort with a flat organizational structure; we didn’t have any employees quit. I remember just before quitting my earlier job, I had reduced my aggression at work and handled my team very differently. We were a team that was rooted in values and believed in living fulfilled lives. We would leave work at 6:30 in the evening before any other team did. My boss wasn’t thrilled about how we functioned, in spite of the fact that my team achieved a productivity level that no other team did.
I had made up my mind to run a business with the values that mattered to my spiritual beliefs. Sometime in 2011, we had Vriksh in mind. I knew I had to wish dearly and work hard and help would follow. We moved to Bangalore and within a few weeks, we received support from friends and well-wishers to set up Vriksh. For me, Vriksh is not just a restaurant; it’s a wellness space for mind, body and soul. We develop a friendship with our guests. We empower our staff. I wish for Vriksh to bring a community together, to be a platform for idea and thoughts to be exchanged.”
Image Courtesy: Susheel Nair (Picture of self), rest were captured by The Bright Lamp Team
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