The story of Mansoor and Tina Khan is essentially the story of a couple who deeply value their life journey rather than worrying or hurrying towards a prescribed destination. A life journey of soul searching, following their passion, practicing gratitude and savoring it all along.
Mansoor Khan directed some iconic Hindi movies like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak , Jo Jeeta Wahi Sikandar etc before he left Bollywood following his inner calling to live off the land. He has always chosen to do things that he feels passionately about. He published his highly intriguing book “The Third Curve” in 2013 that challenges the notion of exponential growth – a topic he feels very strongly about.
“I have only chosen to do things that I can be deeply passionate about. Like at my book, I have worked on it for years, not to make money but because I feel so strongly about the subject matter. Now I am onto my next book.”
– Mansoor Khan
Tina, the “Coonoor Cheese queen” passionately makes and sells artisanal soft and hard cheeses, right on their Acres Wild farm. Gouda, Parmesan, Cheddar – you name it , she makes it.
It all does sound like a dream. Well, how easy is it to live a life of conviction? Living a life in a way where – what you think, what you say and what you do are all in perfect harmony. I got a chance to meet up with this lovely couple and to be inspired forever! I hope this conversation with them inspires you too!
Soul Cafe: From IIT to MIT to directing some iconic movies and then moving away from the crowd to live off the land – I see a person who has been on a quest for his real purpose in life from a very early age. Was finding Tina part of finding a soul partner in this personal quest?
Mansoor: I was pretty clear that I wanted to live off the land very early on – even before meeting Tina. She knew this and was fine with it. In fact I also had plans to live on a boat and go cruising forever and Tina was fine with that as well 🙂 Yes – she was definitely a partner, who was happy to be part of this wild ride. If I had not found someone like her, I would have rather stayed single :).
Soul Cafe: Tina – you saw this streak in him – the desire to live an alternate life. Did that worry you or was it that appealed to you about him?
Tina : I myself am not a highly ambitious person, I like to go with the flow. I knew that – he didn’t t want to live in the city and he had his own personal quest. To be honest It never worried me. In fact it appealed to me that he was so different from the rest. And of course I loved him!
Soul Cafe: “Papa kehte hein bada naam karega – magar yeh tho koi na jaane yeh meri manzil hein kahan”. Was that about you- someone who wanted to redefine success in his own terms and not by the terms of the society?
Mansoor: Well that song was for Amir Khan’s character in the movie QSQT who wasn’t sure what he wants to do with his life. But probably when you rethink about it – the lyrics do reflect a bit of me that didn’t subscribe to the society’s definition of success or achievement. But that was purely unintentional 🙂
Soul Cafe: Isn’t it important that you both shared a common definition of what success means to you and share a similar value system?
Tina: I have never pre calculated my life and had these fixed ideas of success for myself. But yes we have a shared view about our life and so far this soul searching journey has been fulfilling.
Mansoor: I couldn’t have done this if Tina wasn’t happy to live in a farm. She found her passion in cheese making. So yes its important that we both are in sync in terms of what we value deeply in life.
Soul Cafe: Conscious parenting makes you rethink and reconsider everything that there is usually followed as part of the regular system. Did your kids ever felt they were missing out on all the fun down in Mumbai?
Mansoor & Tina: The kids did initially miss their larger network of friends in Mumbai when they moved to the farm. But they slowly built some deep friendship here as well – fewer though. They were always delighted to travel to Mumbai but they were also equally delighted to be back in Coonoor. Being here, allowed us to be consciously present in their growing up stage. Probably now when they are away from us gearing up towards adulting, they might value it more.
“We wanted to be consciously present when they were building their wings , closely associated with their growth and now when they are ready to fly they have their own freedom. We do not interfere much :). “
Soul Cafe: What do you think is the greatest conflict in terms of building relationships for today’s younger generation?
Mansoor & Tina: We surely can’t generalize it. A lot depends on the family values that the kids are brought up in. We have met youngsters who are more introspective than we were at their age. But overall there is this trend of “I”, “Me” having a more ego- centric approach to life. And that makes building relationships difficult. Relationships are about sharing – its about “us”. The expectations from relationships are also higher as compared to the earlier generations.
Soul Cafe: In your book you extensively talk about our obsession with perpetual growth while the reality is bounded and finite. Do you think it happens in relationships as well – the expectation of exponential growth and the disappointment when it turns otherwise? Is there a third curve in relationships as well?
Mansoor: The overall social dynamics is about exponential growth – being better, bigger, faster as time proceeds. The modern world is obsessed with growth – we worship growth. And our definition of growth is curtailed to a kind of quantified growth. Now this philosophy of the society trickles down to personal relationships as well. In reality relationships also has its highs and lows – the expectation of a exponential growth curve is a myth.
Soul Cafe: Do you think authentic relationship based on compatibility and mutual respect should be the foundation for a marriage, and has Indian society made progress in this regard in last 20 years?
Mansoor & Tina: It surely is important. At the superficial level we see the outlooks are getting more broadened but if you dig a little deeper, we see that the the pressure on the younger generation to achieve in every respect is higher than ever. And this attitude reflects even in relationships to some extent and relationships also then becomes portrayal of ones success. For authentic relationships to happen based purely on compatibility and mutual respect – people need to be less extrinsically driven and need to be more conscious with the choices they make
Soul Cafe: What would be your advice to youngsters who think, relationship commitments put limit to their dreams?
Mansoor & Tina : Finding a balance is key – being together and yet giving each other enough space. When you fulfill your dreams, the joy is doubled if you can share it with someone you love. In a very ego-centric, achievement oriented world, relationships need investment of our time and our thoughts. One needs to find the balance .
Mansoor : When I get obsessed, Tina is my balance 🙂
Thanks a lot Mansoor and Tina for this Soulful conversation!
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
– Kahlil Gibran
Soul Cafe: Building Soulful Relationships.