SSG Kitchen garden


Originally posted on 16 Oct 2011 : 

Agriculture or farming is the most appropriate sequel to soldiering. Our cantonments are more akin to small towns and villages than the concrete jungles that our metropolitan towns have become. When thrown in the midst of the slimy people who live in cities, we are like fish out of water.

Last week, I had an opportunity to spend some quality time with an NDA buddy, Lt Gen SS Grewal. Sarabjit made a planned switch to his “2nd Innings” in a very methodical manner. He started preparing for it more than a decade before his retirement, and he was veritably looking forward to it when he was dined out of the Battle  Honours Mess by the Army Chief.

Grewal has occupied high places in the South Block, but the Lord gave him legs which were long enough for his feet to remain in touch with the ground below. He has no hesitation to work on the fields with his own hands. He can spend hours on the tractor and drives around on the dust tracks on his motor cycle.

I asked him if he ever felt lonely. His reply was in a resounding “NO” He is at complete peace with the simple rural folks living around him. I asked him if there was adequate health care. His answer was, “If one follows the path shown by Buddhaji, you should not need doctors!”

In due course, I understood why and how he  turned to ‘Vipassana’ for his spiritual sustenance. Sarabjit was born in Rangoon (Burma) so his roots are Buddhist culture. He commanded a Ladakh Scouts unit and was later appointed their Colonel Commandant. After retirement, the first thing which he did was a course on Vipassana, and he practices it every day.

For those who may not be able to reach his village near Mustafabad in Haryana, I am placing some pictures to give you a general idea of what I saw.


The tractor is as fit for duty as the farmer, all set to go for a round of his fields. “Jai Jawan, jai kisaan!”

The vegetable garden in the backyard. Everything which they eat is ‘organically produced’ and that keeps the doctors away. They do not have a hospital around, and they do not need one, either.


Grewal makes full use of technology. This solar panel gives them enough warm water, and therefore power cuts do not affect them. The house is built such that in summer it remains cool all through the year. Even though air conditioners are installed in every room, and they have full power backup, he actually does not need even a fan for most of the year. The cool air under the trees is exhilarating!


This picture depicts Sarabjit’s connection with Buddhism. The ‘Tankha’ on the left supplements a picture of a “gumpha” in Rangoon (or Yangon, as they now call it) Do you notice ‘Nirvaana’ in Grewal’s eyes? 



I thought I would insert this picture as a reminder of his days as a GOC. But believe you me, his present house is no less than a ‘flag staff house’ in any way.

And now, the ‘kisan’ is all set to show me the route out of his village. He insisted on accompanying me up to the main road, lest I wander away into the dust tracks.

Farming is no longer what it was. A lot of technology goes into it. Even the dairy farming has changed. And those who have adapted themselves to current practices can earn a handsome amount of money, and at the same time, breathe fresh air and eat organic food and farm fresh vegetables and fruit. And if you do that, you will not have to run to doctors for those ‘clinical’ tests.

I must conclude this with the story of our revered father, Major Balwant Singh ji, who lived on his agriculture farm after he retired in 1966. One day, I said to him, “Pitaji, you are now getting old, and must shift to a town where medical facilities are available. What will we do, if something happens to you…?”

And most non-challantly, he said, “What can happen?? You mean a heart attack or a brain stroke ??? If that happens, then I will die. And I am quite ready for that…”

And indeed, no such thing happened. He lived to the ripe old age of NINETY THREE, without any surgery or clinical analysis.

With best wishes for Sarabjit and his wife, who joins him in Vipassana regularly.


  1. Prashant Kale says:

    Very well writeup. Sir, You’ve stolen my words. I also had spent 24 hours at LtGen Grewal Sir’s house in Hangoli & visited his farms.

    It was my awesome stay in his house, I can never forget.

    The beautiful Grewal Couple didn’t leave any shortcomings in my hospitality and I was overwhelmed by the way they cared me.

    Thank to General Sir & Dr. Ma’am. Next time I will try to spend more time with them.

  2. Ladi says:

    I think twice or thrice I went there but we kids used to get bored over there but yes it was picturesque, but that well made for gas was really pungent. we kids could not stand by near there because of smell but overall it would have been a great journey every time I went there and every time pita ji used to say, ladi now say bole so nihal sasriyakal before starting his ambassador and I, little, used to repeat him. maali uncle and his son who used to get milk for us every morning from his farm were really very hard worker. My father used to say just see them they come so early whether it is summer or winter, u cannot get up even till 8. Nice to see it again, thanks for making me remember my childhood again. Bless you all for such initiate.

  3. Sarabjeet Grewal says:

    It will make a difference but unless you experience and learn the technique it wont work. It is all experiantial.

  4. Anil Bhalla says:

    Wait till winter & warmth shall be there

  5. Bajaj says:

    …..and after !!!

    And my daughter will learn to live and handle the same class ofpeople !

    Cheers to all that and much more.

    Some things never change.

    The more they change the more they stay the same.

    Regards. ( Why am I doing that to someone stupid!)

  6. J Thomas says:

    Terrific !

  7. Sarabjeet Grewal says:

    Thanks for the wonderful writeup and the snaps, they are too good and I have sent it to all my relatives and friends, nobody could have described the visit as well as you have done. Thanks a lot for your visit I enjoyed every moment of it.

  8. Manjit Singh says:

    very good write up, as if by a professional journalist.

  9. Vinay Malhotra says:

    This is very inspiring indeed

  10. sundara rao says:

    Thanks for the narrative

  11. Anil Bhalla says:

    Many thanks for this write up. This is the Garry we all did not know

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