No electricity? No problem!

Vardan Pandhare
Sunday, 1 September 2019

Sane’s thoughts on nature and refusal of electricity
When asked how she lives without electricity, she said, “I have been staying in this house from the early 1950s when my parents and grandparents came here. At first, I was unable to understand their decision but now I understand their significance. Since then, I have followed what they practised for years.”

Have you ever wondered how life would be without electricity even for 24 hours? However, for Dr Hema Sane, a 79-year-old former Botany professor from Garware College, it is the way of life. 

Amidst the hustle and bustle of Budhwar Peth area, there is a house surrounded by greenery on all sides which also has a big well. The house might look old and dilapidated, but there is a beautiful garden surrounding it with Ashoka and sweet Tamarind trees. To give her a company in this old house, two cats, a dog and a mongoose live on the premises.   

The deep love for the environment

Sane’s decision to live without electricity has been driven by her deep love for the environment and desire to live a simple life. However, the lack of electricity has not been a hindrance in her daily life. Not just a doctorate in Botany, but Dr Sane at the age of 46 also received a Master’s degree in Indology, thus fulfilling her love for history. 

Along with being an environmentalist, Dr Sane has also authored books on subjects ranging from Botany to Indian History. But the special thing is, she has written all this in the dim solar-powered lamps and oil lamps that she uses in her house daily. Some of her Botany books are even a part of the curriculum for graduate courses in Savitribai Phule Pune University. She is also invited to give talks on the Mythology of Trees as well. 

All her life, Dr Sane has never used the Internet or even a television, refrigerator and other electronic items. Her trusted source of information is books and academic research material to broaden her learning.

However, an electronic item she uses every day is a radio. She has also been honoured by All India Radio (AIR), Pune, for being a long-time listener. 

Sane’s thoughts on nature and refusal of electricity
When asked how she lives without electricity, she said, “I have been staying in this house from the early 1950s when my parents and grandparents came here. At first, I was unable to understand their decision but now I understand their significance. Since then, I have followed what they practised for years.”

When asked what people think on her way of living, Dr Sane said, “People call me a fool, I may be insane to them, but it does not matter to me because it is my way of life.” She further added that she has never felt the need for electricity in her whole life. “People around my house often ask me how do you live without electricity? But the answer is simple, I ask them how do you live with electricity?”

Talking about her love for nature, Dr Sane said, “There have been people who asked me to sell this house, and said I would get good money! But then, my biggest concerns are my trees and birds. Who will take care of them? These birds are my companion. Whenever I do my housework, they come over here as friends. I don’t want to go out. I want to stay here in my natural habitat.”

“I believe in teachings of Lord Buddha that you have to find your own path in life,” Dr Sane added. 

An independent woman

  • Dr Hema Sane on the outset might look recluse, but she is a fiercely independent woman. She has been a professor at Pune’s Garware College from 1962 to 2000 and headed the Botany department for some time. She has been an active academician, an author and gave multiple speeches until an orthopaedic ailment limited her mobility recently.
  • Not a ritualistic person, but she likes to recite ‘shlokas’ and ‘stotras’ (devotional chants) to calm her mind.

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