“Time is precious. I look at time (combined with my passion for what I do) as an investment, and it’s the only kind of investment I plan to make,” says 27-year-old Ramesh Thuthan, an artist at Cuckoo Forest School in Singarapettai, Tamil Nadu. For the past six years he has lived in a small, one-room mud hut on the grounds of the school, painting, crafting, making musical instruments, gardening, and interacting with tribal children.
Saving the bare minimum he earns, he travels the country, hitchhiking his way across when he runs out of money. The artist admits that he and his family view life differently and have clashed on the subject of investing before. “My father was building a house in my hometown of Tiruvannamalai and I refused to be a part of that because I’m not interested in cement structures. Even the paints they used were unappealing to me. I believe in giving back to nature what we take; I believe in leaving behind a clean and natural world for the next generation. For me, my years and work at Cuckoo are my investment and they have given me great returns,” Ramesh explains.
Traditionally, the idea of investment is linked to materialistic objects like real estate, cars, gold… But for a niche group of youngsters, these are not values they aspire to. They subscribe to a different idea of investment.
“Investment is time,” reiterates Veeramanikandan M, a 22-year-old graffiti artist based in Chennai. As a graffiti artist, Veeramanikandan makes money from commercial gigs that involve designing and painting the interiors of restaurants, bars and cafes, or public walls. He recently painted a wall in Besant Nagar for the promotion of Hollywood movie ‘Venom 2’.
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