Thursday, June 2, 2011


So I realize that it has been forever since my last post. I have been very busy in Utah with my new job working at an environmental consulting company along with helping my parents create a sustainable farm.

Turns out, the last blog that I posted was the last blog that I had from India. However, I return to India Nov 27, where I will be working on a longer term project in Dehra Dun where a sustainable retreat center is in the process of being created.

So the blog will be back and running by then!

All the best


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Visiting another organic farm in the Nilgiris

November 21 2010

Today was an awesome day.

This morning I was picked up around 8:40 by an Indian lad. He walked me to the bus station, we rode the bus together to one of the organic nurserys in the middle of the beautiful nilgiris.

They started me out on weeding the elephant garlic patches. I was soon greeted by a local Indian girl who is in the 8th standard. (8th grade).

She sat and talked to me while I weeded. She asked me my name, my parents names and my brothers names. It was kind of difficult communicating at first because she was convinced she didn't speak english. But the more we laughed at not being able to understand each other, the more she was able to speak the bits of english that she knew, and somehow we were able to hold a conversation the entire morning! Her sister joined us 15 minutes after she had, and together we laughed and tried to talk, her sister was 2 years younger than her.

They started talking about photos, and I took out my camera. They were so excited! They had no idea how to use one, and it took them a bit to figure out which way needed to point outwards, but they caught on quickly!

They took pictures all day! It was quite the event. At lunch, they brought out rice and samba, from somewhere, who knows where (Indian fast food??)! It was almost an entire pot of rice they brought me packed inside a banana leaf tied up in a string! I had a pretty hard time finishing it, it was so much food!

We took more pictures and played with the baby cats and the dog.

The mother took me down for more garden work. We harvested carrots, and washed them.

Okay so the mother washed them, I tried but just watched, she put all of the carrots into a bucket and washed them with her foot!!

She used water from a stagnant pond, and gave me a carrot and told me to eat it. I really wanted to eat it, but I couldnt get the thought of proper sanitation for the carrot off of my mind.

No need to get sick in India again.

There were soo many tadpoles in the pond! Many became beached as she took the water from the pond into the bucket, so I spent a good 15 minutes saving tadpoles.

The time was almost 6 so we headed up to catch the bus. Somehow I made it safely back to Vanyas, despite not having my phone on me, and only half spoken English by the people I was working with. But somehow things were worked out, and they took care of it! Wonderful.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Visiting an orphanage with a team of dermatologists

Nov 19, 2010

Vanya's cousin is a dermatologist, who does awesome work all over the world. He decided to come to the Nilgiris with his team to see what Vanya was up to! Him and his team help impoverished areas with serious skin conditions. In many cases, the remedies are very simple, basically sharing their capacity to care. Most cases they have been dealing with is in treating elephantiasis. They are unsure of the exact cause of the condition but assume it is from the lack of proper footwear on contaminated soils. They treat the patients by giving them tailored shoes and moisturizing creams-- with fantastic results! Improving everything from self-esteem to not being able to walk!

We visited a few more schools today, with the doctors by our side. It was incredible being able to hear their stories! One of the doctors said, “Some of these people, just need somebody to care.” They had been working with patients in Africa, previous to coming to India.

One of the schools we visited today was an orphanage. They greeted us by giving us presentations on organic farming, intermixed with dance and song performances. They did so incredible! They had even made dance costumes for the different dances!

They asked us all to say a few words to the group of children. I told them how grateful I was to be here with such a talented group of kids! I told them that I was a farmer in the process of learning organic farming and how lucky I was to stumble across such a marvelous group of organic farming teachers! They were all very happy to hear, with huge smiles on their faces. I don't think I've met a cooler group of kids.

The kids just adored us and came straight up to us afterward. Everything had been translated up until then. But now they were able to practice some of the English they had been learning! Asking us where we were from, our names, our brothers and sisters names and what we do or have done. They were absolutely adorable. I told them how lucky they were to live in such a wonderful place, their faces lit up because I doubt they had ever been anywhere else. They said, “Really? Wow, thank you!”

I told them about the mountains I grew up with in Utah, and how similar they are to the ones they have. They got so excited! They kept holding my hand and calling me auntie.

I have never met a group of individuals so full of life and love. Their spirits were so electrifying, anyone who has the opportunity to live and work with these kids are truly blessed. They may be 'lacking' in western terms. But what is lacking in western terms? Lacking of material wealth? If your insides are happy, nothing else matters. These kids taught me a very valuable lesson today.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Charity to schools in need

November 17, 2010

Today I went out with Vanya, her charity organizer David from England and other important members from Earth Trust. David came with some donations and today we visited a school to see how we could help them out. The kids had prepared a song for us, and a few presentations about some of the wildlife in the area. It was all in their local language but we had some translators who dubbed us in on what it was about.

The parents even performed a song and a dance for us!

Their wish for the money that was going to be donated to them was to buy some tiles for their bathrooms since the floors were dirt, and it is difficult for them to keep the area clean and sanitary.

(this last picture of an outdoor wall is what they use for the urinal)

When the kids and parents were told that we had the money to give them for the tiles, I cant tell you how happy they were! They were smiling, clapping and so grateful! Their second wish was to have building materials to create a few vermi-compost pits, so they could produce their own compost that could create some income for the school.

David had only one request if the kids were to be granted the materials, that they would write journal entrees about the building of the pits and the creation of the compost. The kids happily obliged.

We all went outside for some group pictures. Right after the kids came up to us, so excited. They asked me my name, where I was from, what my parents names were, if I had siblings, who they were, and how old they were. They asked me what grade of school I was in. I thought that one was the cutest question. I told them I was no longer a student. They were shocked. I just smiled.

This day changed my life. Just seeing how little some schools actually have, but how blessed and grateful every child is for what they do have. Incredible experience. I feel so blessed to have been involved in this process today.

(if you have the opportunity to donate to Earth Trust, do it, it's really a miracle worker in India) - here is the contact info for David

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A field tripping envi-class visits the biodynamic farm

November 16, 2010

So I am staying in Ooty, with a wonderful lady named Vanya. She has a wonderful home and excellent cooks! She oversees over 16 Eco-projects here in the Nilgiris for Earth Trust. One of the operations is a biodynamic farm right next to her home. It is probably close to an acre of property, the plants are huge, delicious and completely disease free!

(just outside her home)

(the path to the garden)

(some of the surrounding view)

(entrance to the garden)

On the days I am not out and about with different projects, I will be here, working in the garden. Collecting seeds, weeding, or mulching.

(a community building that overlooks the garden)

Today, an environmental school group from a high school a few hours away came to visit the farm to learn a little about organic farming.

Anyone who wanted to know what it was like working towards having this as a career, I was given as a reference point. I think the only question I was given was, “Do you ever get bored?” I can't remember what I said, I think I smiled and said no.

It was really great to see city school kids, really getting into the subject! The teacher who gave them the tour of the farm, got them working with their hands with the compost and the manure! It was so impressive to see these kids really opening up and trying new things. Their memory was impeccable as well! The teachers would give them short quizzes after showing them different parts of the farm, and all of them were on top of the questions and answering them all correctly! Maybe I just don't remember high school well enough, but I don't remember kids getting that much out of field-trips.

It was a lot of fun to be working with them. I remember when I was younger I used to think that I would never become a boring old person, I would always remember what it was like to be a kid!

Too much fun.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tamil Nadu

November 12, 2010

I woke up at five this morning to to get to the airport on time.

First was a taxi from Pune to Bombay, a flight from Bombay to Chennai, a flight from Chennai to Coimbatore, then a taxi from Coimbatore to Ooty.

Only in India would you find a butterfly in one of the airport buses. It had found a seat on the windowsill right next to me. Amazing.

I reached Ooty late in the evening, very ready to call it a day.

November 13, 2010

We took a tour around some of the Nilgiri Mountains today!! The mountains are bright green, tea gardens expand through the mountainside. The slopes are steep, the roads narrow. Springs and waterfalls form small streams throughout it all.

To start out the journey, I was shocked to find a truck being held on the road by a rope. I have no idea how they managed this one

Unfortunately my camera died, at the very beginning of the journey, these were the last pictures I was able to take. Our first stop honestly reminded me of the rock on Lion King. But in place of the rock was a tree. A huge old tree. At this particular site, there weren't many trees around. The tree overlooked hundreds of acres of tea gardens. As we walked around the tree, there was a small shrine. I thought it was cute until I saw blood everywhere and a chicken head stabbed through a Triton like staff. Apparently the locals had just performed a chicken sacrifice.

Our next stop on the road was at a prestigious English boarding school. It was the first building that I have been in, in India, that the floor boards were wooden! It is very uncommon to see, but could have only been an influence of the English. Organic matter decomposes so quickly in India from the rains, I would be surprised if the wooden framed school hadn't needed a lot of repair work.

The director invited us in, and served us milk (black) tea with school made biscuits.

I was traveling with Vanya (the wonderful lady I am staying with, who I met through Ameli, and is the director of a number of sustainable projects in the Nilgiris for Earth Trust), and the assistant director Sivakumar, Ameli (who also traveled to the Nilgiris to help out with a few of the projects), and an ecological expert of the region Godwin Bosco.

The goal of the visit was to see if the school would be interested in working with Earth Trust in creating some eco-projects,classes or clubs for the kids. Earth Trust's proposal involved reinvigorating the natural ecology of the Nilgiri Mountains. When the English colonized India, they brought with them the Eucalyptus tree, which is a great tree for wood and medicines-particularly in England, but in India it has been causing some havoc for the native species. The trees secrete some kind of chemical which makes it difficult for other plant life to thrive, the birds avoid them, and their roots grow so deep they empty water reserves faster than they can be replenished.

Earth Trust is working on restoring the Nilgiris original landscape of grasslands and sholas (patches of stunted evergreen forest).

The school director definitely had a bit of a shocked reaction when he found out that the primary goal was to harvest all of their eucalyptus trees (the trees are huge, beautiful and everywhere). But for the sake of ecology and the animals that survive off of the sholas and the grasslands, alternative projects need to be considered.

Stop number 3: An organic tea factory! As soon as you entered the building, it was like being a giant tea cup with out the tea. It was hot, humid and smelled of tea! Maybe that could be a new thing, saunas with tea steam.

Before entering we had to put our feet in a machine that spit out baggies on our shoes. It was fun, haha I could have done that all day.

These particular tea gardens that surrounded the factory were the highest tea gardens in the world, and the coldest! It gets down to -7 degrees F, one of the few places in southern India which develops frost in the winter!

The factory is also fair-trade. But because the place is so remote, there is no cell phone service or internet. This alone, makes it difficult to maintain an adequate supply of workers. The workers also have to travel quite a long distance to get to the site.

But for some, its a relief to be far away, tucked into the remote beautiful landscape.

Pit stop number 4: We drove to some other remote areas. The Earth Trust team were looking for the perfect location to start an eco university. Specifically Godwin's project. The University would teach how to tune yourself into your environment and understand its needs, and how to work with it rather than against it.

The last pit stop of the day was an Organic farm. They were growing fish, tomatoes, and many other crops inside greenhouses. They were using organic fertilizers and pesticides. But it's good to know your farmer! Because sometimes organic pesticides and fertilizers can cause similar damage to the crops and other organisms as synthetic ones. It's all about how you use them.

The tour took all day, and by the time we turned around to go home, it was night already. As we turned on one of the steep roads, a leopard runs right in front of our car!! My first sighting of a cat!! It went by too quick for any kind of pictures! We also spotted Sambar (a huge Indian deer) , and hares!

These roads are windy and steep. And when one car or truck breaks down, it holds up all the rest of the traffic on the road. On our way home a truck broke down. All the men in our car got out to help push start this truck, it was quite a site to see more than 20 men helping each other to get this truck working again.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Serene Ecovillage

November 11th 2010

We decided to drive up to Serene Ecovillage and check out what they are building there!

We saw a video on Youtube which was a great introduction to the goal and the mission of the village. The village was founded by medical doctor who decided to leave his practice, in order to return to the wild country landscape and create a sustainable form of living off of the land.

(check out the video on youtube, called: Jumping from the Urban Train)

For nine years the ex-doctor and his family have been rejuvenating the landscape in the hopes that it will soon become an excellent model of sustainability and influence the creation of many more eco-villages throughout India.

When we got to the site we were greeted by Dipika, Dr. Chordia's daughter. She was carrying some plants (special plants that when dried, are perfect for using as brooms!) up the mountain. We parked outside of their house, and waited for Dr. Chordia to greet us.

On our left were hundreds of trees growing in buckets! I asked Dipika what the plans were to plant all of the trees! She told me that it greatly increased their survival rate, if the trees started out in pots, otherwise if the trees were planted in the ground before they were sturdy enough, animals would forage on them, or other unknown factors would wipe them out before they had a chance.

To my right, in front of the home there was a tree nursery alongside some solar panels!

The Doctor came and greeted us, and Dipika hiked us up the mountain and told us of some of the happenings of the village.

So far, there were only a few families living on the property. There are still some kinks on the land that need to be worked out in order for it to support more people. They started planting trees on the mountain side 9 years ago! But the growth of trees is no fast process, a tree to reach maturity can take 20 plus years! It isn't the case for every tree or every environment, but just to paint an idea of the process involved.

They planted an array of trees to maintain the diversity on the mountainside. She showed us a couple of ponds they had tried to create, but neither seemed to be too successful yet.

The first pond was created by digging a big hole and filling it with cement. Dipika said that the power of the rains filling that pond was too powerful as there was no absorbance of the water into the land once it hit the cement. So it caused some destructive overflows from the pond downhill. The second pond they dug, they dug it closer to the house and not so high on the mountain. But the absorbance in the new location was too much, it held hardly any water! They had put some sort of chemical in with the bottom of the pond, which is supposed to create some sort of cement over time.

But as of now the effect of it was minimal.

She told us how the mountainside was completely degraded when they first arrived, all it supported was rock! No topsoil! They had to hawl soil from the bottom of the mountain to the top! They also have been dealing with the nearby villagers who burn parts of the mountainside each year, because they feel it is the best for the health of the system. But in that process, no trees have any chance of survival!

She spoke of their dream of having land where people can just walk through and pick as much food as they would like. Full of life, and full of abundance!

She showed us their compost toilet.

They had diverted their blackwater into a 10 by 10 area of their backyard. She said the hole was about 20 feet deep, and they filled it with hay to keep the moisture levels and smells at bay. Eventually they planted on top of the pit, different plants that are great at absorbing the excess nitrogen.

There was absolutely no smell, no mess, nothing that would indicate that it was a compost toilet!

They do about 50 experiments with plants and materials every month! The latest experiment were pots to grow plants in, with small pipes protruding from the top. I didn't quite understand the explanation but basically it was a self watering system. Where the plant takes exactly what it needs from a water source and all the excess isn't taken from the water system.

Seemed pretty cool!

After the tour they invited us in for tea, as I peered into the house, the first thing I noticed was a bird chilling on their counter top!!! How awesome! These people are so integrated into their environment, their home is also a home for the birds! They noticed my amazement at the bird in the home, and they told me that there was a whole family of birds living inside!! (sparrows or finches.. I don't know my birds but they were cute! And were flying around the living room and the kitchen the whole while we had our tea!)

They also had these bags of water hanging around their house. They told us that they were used to keep flies away. The flies see their distorted reflection in the bag and think that it is a bigger fly than them, which triggers their flight reaction to reach safety! I didn't see one fly in their home!

The drive home was BEAUTIFUL! We saw the sunset over the mountaintops. I tried to take some pictures but, nothing can compare to real life.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Playing Tourist

November 3rd

My time with the family is etching to an end.

I finally got custom made indian clothes made for me.. officially an indian. Heheh. Im still trying to get used to wearing a scarf backwards. It tends to fall off.. but it's something to work on!

I went to a touristy built up indian village of Rajasthan.. It was a really something else.

I road a camel, I made my first clay pot! It is so much harder than it looks. I tried some interesting Rajastanian food. The food that sticks out in my mind the most, was this ball shaped hollow pastry, and then it is filled with some sort of spiced milk, and you have to eat it whole! I found it kind of awkward, because it is about the size of a ping pong ball, filled with milk, maybe if it were smaller I could have enjoyed it better .

I watched a puppet show, and a magic show. Which was amazing! I have never seen anything like it. The last trick the magician did, he took one of my rings, held it under a blanket, had us hold it, then he waved his hand above the (very thin) blanket, and suddenly I was not holding the ring anymore. He reached over to the other side of the stage, and grabbed a tomato. He slowly started to cut into the tomato, piece by piece. I could see through the pulp of the tomato a bit, and could see that my ring was there!!! He cut more off of the tomato and got my ring out!! It was the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed.

I also had my fortune told, I can't remember exactly what the guy said, I think he said that I would have twins, I would live in America most of my life, and I am an engineer (hehe which isn't true) He said some other things, but sometimes it's nicer to not get your fortune told. What's the point of receiving someone else's interpretation of your own life story? Hmm anyway

I also watched a tight tope walker and some other really talented acts!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Making a decision

October 31

So the past week I have been staying with a wonderful family in Pune,

I've diverted paths with Rico, after I fell ill in Mumbai (Me and Rico travelled to Mumbai for another organic farm project after working on the organic farm at Vasu's), and realized that I needed a break from constant travel.

As well as, allowing myself to fully explore and discover India through different paradigms than strictly permaculture.

So some friends took me in, in Pune, nursed me back to health and I found a wonderful program in the Nilgiri Mountain range, volunteering for an organic plant nursery in a village.

I leave next week!

I am staying with a friend Nithya Shanti. He is a teacher, counselor and healer who travels around giving joy-shops and talks to all sorts of people around the world. Yesterday was the the first joy-shop at the newly formed foundation, Nithya Shanti Foundation.

The Joyshop was excellent! Anyone who is interested can check him out on Facebook or Youtube. It was an all day event, but very inspirational and heart filling!! He has a way of organizing his words to empower your own inner wisdom. Truly beautiful to see the way people unfolded in the joyshop!!

There is an India, which I haven't really noticed until recently but, the magic is still alive here! Miracles are not extraordinary. They are within us, everyday.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Banana Grove

October 15th 2010

Okay! So this morning, we addressed the banana garden.

Problem: the wild pigs digging up banana trees.

But currently we are pulling out all the small banana trees so they don't compete for nutrients with the full-grown banana trees.

My question is, why can't we purposefully leave the small banana trees for the pigs?

Rico was working on digging trenches that surrounded the trees so that they could be easily watered, yet last year the wild pigs came and destroyed all of these trenches right after they were dug. Pigs have very strong snouts and can dig up to 3 feet into the ground to root things up!

I was thinking, what if we planted root vegetables or, something the pigs would like, in the areas we wanted to dig trenches, and let the pigs do the work for us?

Anyway, my questions were left unanswered and we continued working on the garden. I was busy pruning the banana trees of their dead leaves.

For lunch we drove to Vasu's cousins.
It was a huge home, and we ate in the courtyard. As opposed to western culture, where eating is usually about conversation and associating while you sit down with other guests and your hosts, in many places I have been in India, eating is about eating! You sit in a row with the other guests and the hosts will come around and keep adding food to your plate, you are expected to eat rather fast. (or atleast in a faster way than I am used to, because once the guests are fed, then others can be fed, and eventually the women- or the cooks then get to eat)

We were given banana leaves and honestly this is one of the biggest meals I have been served yet! Our hosts kept coming with more rice and more food, if you are not quick enough to say no, they will promptly put more on your banana leaf.

After lunch we took a stroll to the beach, which was not even a kilometer away. It was the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. And the water was warm!! I wanted to go swimming so badly but swimming wasn't allowed in this particular spot because the undercurrent was so strong.

As I looked above, there was a convocation of eagles! I had no idea eagles even lived in India!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Life at the old organic farm, day 3

October 12th 2010

I almost just wrote 2005. In 2005 I was in my graduating year at my highschool. It's amazing the life I've created for myself since that time.

Anyway. I was 5 years behind, and currently living in a way that I would imagine to be 500 years behind. That is about the age of the house I am staying in, actually. Quite amazing that a structure this old is still being used, and I actually have the opportunity to experience it.

The windows are small wooden framed devices, with wooden bars for screens. The ceilings are tall and the rooms are very spacious and the opposite of cluttered. Dirt is a wall decoration and insects live freely among us. Quite a wonderful little ecosystem going on in my room. And the smoke from the kitchen adds a little retro rave modern feeling to the energy of the room.

I luckily still sometimes receive a bar of service in my cozy little room. Lol when the universe feels like providing that is! I took a stroll to the main road to give a call to Ameli and Harsh (the ex buddhist monk whom I met at the spiritual conference. Harsh means happy in Hindi, and he is one of the happiest people I have ever met. But it isn't ironic! Okay, maybe it is!).

The roads surrounding the farm house, are filled with with trees colored with vibrant flowers! I actually got lost on some of these roads, but it really wasn't bad because the scenery was so amazing. Electricity isn't as scarce here as it is in other parts of India that I have been. And just as I wrote that the power went out. So I guess I lied.

The family I am living with are adorable, even though most of them don't speak English, so we mostly get by on smiles and nods. But it seems like it works just as well. The food they prepare is all local and some of the vegetables I cannot figure out what they are, lol but it makes meals interesting! They have a little cat, that I haven't managed to become friends with yet, but soon! I have made friends with a little baby cow, who is the most adorable thing in the world! He wanders around the garden, and cries for his parents and complains about the mosquitoes, but other than that, he is a very happy little cow.

They have a beautiful banana grove, and a coconut grove!! Many colorful frogs, caterpillars, butterflies, dragonflies, and exotic flowers. I saw this amazing flower that looks like a small universe. It has a light pink center with all of these tiny strands that stick out of it in all directions, and at the end of the strands there are these little glowing puffs. When I went to touch the flower, all of the leaves curled under, as if it had completely dried out and died! It took a couple minutes for it to uncurl itself and return to its natural color, but I've never seen a plant move like that before! I found some huge patches of these flowers, and depending on what leaf was touched, sometimes separate plants from the plant that was touched would also fake 'die'.

Later today we were working on building a greywater site/compost.

We tried to move a boulder which was in the way of the site. It was a medium, to small sized boulder. There were 8 of us, trying to roll it downhill.. hahah we budged it by about 2 inches off of the ground. But the ants were angry at us for disrupting their homes and Rico stepped on some glass. So our prospective compost site will have to wait for the moving of the rock.

But perhaps the compost will be that much better with the protection of a rock? Who knows.

But anywho,

and so it is.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

First Adventures staying at an Old Farmhouse

October 10th 2010

Back to the middle ages.

I took an overnight bus ride last night.

The past week has been a whirlwind. After attending the spiritual conference my entire world changed but soon after crumbled apart. Everything I thought was real, wasn't, everything I wasn't sure about, I suddenly was. I was in and out of delusional/schitzophrenia/paranoia states.

It could very well have been because I stopped taking my malaria medication. But it was intense and crazy none the less.

I am finally back out on the field after an interesting detour through the Indian world of spirituality. Overnight I traveled back in time. Not literally. Okay kind of literally.

The bus trip, I tried to sleep as much as I could, but I kept waking up to these winding roads and intense noisy jungles!! They were the thickest jungles I have seen yet! I heard many sounds, and calls... no idea what any of them were, I was just focusing my attention on the bus driver making it safe to jungle land, or wherever we were going.

I woke up to Rico tapping me on the shoulder, telling me we had 5 minutes to get our stuff together. From the bus we took a little auto to the farm that we would be staying at.

This farm is huge. And old. It must be much more than a few hundred years old. It reminds me of the middle age homes that I would visit at the museums in Denmark!!! The owner showed me to my room. The house was big and empty. There were a couple of big beds in the entry way. Me and Rico were lead up very steep shallow steps to the 2nd floor. Rico's room is kind of a balcony/storage area, and my room is a very interesting room. It reminds me of a root cellar. With no furniture. There was a bag of old dusty newspaper which warmly welcomed me. Kind of.

I looked around trying to find a place to tie up my mosquito net, at least I would have a bit of security, since the windows were open dusty, cobby, and barred. Pleasant.

As I was looking around, I wasn't too shocked to find a tarantula. Okay I am exaggerating, it wasn't really a tarantula, but it was pretty much a tarantula!! By far the biggest spider I have everrrr seeen. Wonderful.

Currently I am typing in the attic of the home. The lighting actually isn't too shabby as there are little square windows that spot the roof. I am typing in the attic because not only is my room super amazing, but one of the windows is right above the wood burning stove in the kitchen. Currently I am a bit smoked out.

I have no service here. I haven't found any outlets yet.

And the toilet is an outhouse! Hahaha I can't believe I was actually complaining before about Vakarabad.

So I get into the bathroom. It is a hundred years old!!! There is a big sink, with water, no drain. Everything looks like cemented everything.. dirty cemented everything again like a cellar. Its dark. I look around for the toilet. There is a cemented square structure in the center of the bathroom, but it's empty. And then there is a cemented kinda square object in the corner, with what looks like.. hay inside?? is that the toilet???? its way to dark to investigate whether or not this is used for the toilet.. but if it isn't I would feel awfully retarded for leaving some presents in there!

I decide to open one of the windows so I could see for sure what is going on. I try to pull one of the wooden shutters on this dusty window open. And guess what I do. Yup you guessed it. I broke it!!! OH dear!

So much for relieving myself. I couldn't get myself to go inside of the pile of hay, and that was when I noticed a pair of small doors, I try my luck with them, and they open, success!! A little indian toilet!!! The squater kind! Boy was I happy to see something porcelain!

Again the little toilet room had little square windows in the ceiling for light.

Apart from getting used to the accommodations, the land is beautiful! They have a huge wishing well.. like what you see in the movies!! where the water is clear and open with viney pretty flowers surrounding it.

looking forward to checking out the rest of the property! :)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Spiritual Retreat

Sept 29- Oct 2 2010

So the past week, I attended a spiritual conference near Bangalore. I took a detour from permaculture because I wanted to learn a little bit about some of the Indian Guru's.

It was a really interesting experience! I went with Ameli and Vanja (the cutest lady ever! She lives in the Nilgiri Mountains). We were set up in a four person tent, given a cot a pillow and one teeny blanket. (which was not enough ps, it got really cold at night!)

The place was called Pyramid Valley. There was a huge pyramid that we gathered in everyday for meditation, basically from morning to night.

I kept getting headaches in the pyramid, so I ended up skipping a lot of sessions and going for nature hikes!

I met an American Indian, not a Native American don't get me wrong. He is actually born in America but he is Indian. And his name is Harsh, which means happiness in Hindi. I met him the first day.

He found me at the pyramid, and plopped right next to me. He gave me a pyramid key chain and went on to make jokes about the the program. I had been in that pyramid for so long. I found him amusing but felt bad that I was laughing in the middle of the meditation.. oops. The next day he plopped down beside me again.. we decided to go out on a walk. I found out that he had been a monk for 6 years! And surprisingly wasn't the only ex-monk that I met at the conference!

I also met a couple of breatharians, actually one of them stayed in our tent, she did drink water with lemon, but that was it. She looked 30 years younger than her age too! Really fascinating to meet all the people here. Everyone was extremely nice.

There was also a teacher who was able to reduce my fear of public speaking enough that when I wanted to test it out to see if it was real, I spoke at the final meeting of the retreat in front of about 300 hundred people, just telling my story!

it was unreal.


It was really quite the experience, and the meditations were amazing, if any of you get the chance to go to one of these, it's worth it.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Detour from Permaculture

September 29th 2010

Yesterday Ameli invited me to go on a 3 day spiritual retreat. I think during my stay in India it would be nice to learn a little bit about some of the different aspects of India and find out a bit more about these guru's everyone talks about. So I talked with Rico and cleared it with him, and today we are going to head out to Pyramid Valley!

We were going to leave tomorrow, but apparently there will be many strikes going on in the roads, so in order to avoid them, we decided to leave today.

On the way we met up with one of Ameli's friends, Vanya Orr, who is originally from England but moved to India 16 years ago and started up an organization Earth Trust in the Nilgiri Mountains in India.

When we got to Pyramid Valley us three were set up in a 4 person tent. The location was beautiful, surrounded by small hills, a stream and right next to a huge meditation pyramid!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Jungle Tour

September 28th 2010

Bobbi took us out on the jeep today. We tracked wild boar, white tailed deer and elephants! They looked liked huge boulders from far away! Much harder to spot than I would have imagined. We also spotted a bengalese eagle owl. They are about 2 feet tall and they hunt in pairs after other smaller birds. One owl will will chase the smaller bird while the other owl will attack.


I felt like I was living in the discovery channel today.



We also saw sambar- a large deer and the barking deer.

And..I learned today that chicken still actually live in the wild some places! In India they are called jungle fowel, and they are very noisy, but flighty. I heard them make really funny calls but never got a chance to spot one.

The aromas that drifted through the jeep while we toured Bobbi's land smelled of curry leaves, cumin seeds, dirt and sage.

The funny thing about India is, no matter how remote you think you are, it perhaps isn't that remote.

Villagers still have access to the pond on Bobbi's land and every Tuesday they do their puja ceremonies (religious ceremonies). It probably wouldn't be that big of a deal if they didn't leave the place trashed after they left.


The puja alter, right next to the pond.


the pond.


a fraction of the trash left.

I have plenty of more pictures of the trash, but I'll keep at that, because I just got angry after seeing this, and there really isn't much to that can be done about it.

But even with the Puja ceremonies on Tuesdays, the place is amazing. It's amazing that just four years ago this land was all farmland, and now it easily supports all of these animals, no problem. The only animal that is missing is the monkey! The trees haven't yet grown tall enough for their protection against the cats.

We finally got a chance to get out of the jeep and take a hike up one of the hills.
We saw the 'blue mountain range' or the Nilgiris. I saw no animals on my hike, but I did carry a rock and a stick. It felt better than being empty handed even though I doubt it could have done anything in the case of tiger.





That night we sat on the rooftop again, watching a lightening show for over an hour, no rain or thunder but each time the entire sky would light up as if it were day. It was amazing.