AUROVILLE, TAMIL NADU, INDIA- I successfully finished up my yoga teacher training course in Rishikesh, bid my farewell to the Mama Ganga (the Ganges River) and hopped a southbound flight to Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. After a day or two of fairly smooth travel (an elusive taxi here and there, a ticket stamped for the year 2008, and a train that was “most likely” arriving at platform 4, “probably” at 9am) I finally made it to the world famous Ecovillage of Auroville. I met my first volunteer when he came running around the corner with a bleeding foot; I got out my first-aid kit, helped him get cleaned up, and began to orient myself to my new home.
Presently I am living in a bamboo/dry grass/tree house structure (pictured above) on a beautiful farm in Auroville that produces a stunning abundances of mangos, papayas, soursop, custard apples, all sorts of beans, legumes, flowers, okra, herbs and many other veggies (half of which is unfamiliar to me.) The farm also runs a open-air cafe that serves a daily “thali” or plate of locally grown, fantastic food. One of my tasks involves working in the kitchen and familiarizing myself with the operations and cooking there in preparation to become kind of manager (a task that has proven quite a challenge, as I do not speak Tamil, do not know most of the exotic food there, and am not, as it were, a grand chef of any sort). A given day might include watering the baby cherry trees, picking flowers to make bright purple juice, peeling and slicing bananas to dry out in the sun, making herbal and fruit smoothies, planting black velvet beans and okra, watering avocado, citrus, and soursop trees, and then hopping on the back of the owner’s motorcycle to speed around town, where I might accompany him to the mill to create plantain or millet flour, stop by the internet cafe to assist with online advertising, project reports and facebook announcements. Then, we jump back on the bike, zooming and weaving around other cyclists on the bumpy dirt roads in order to track own important people at the town hall for information regarding fundraising, research, etc. Other tasks have included sorting peanuts, making deliveries to local farmers markets (while balancing giant bags of papayas on my knee on the back of the bike), formulating procedures for efficiency in the cafe and plucking/cleaning banana flowers for cooking.
The inside of my hut; we sleep under mosquito nets just as a minor precaution.
Most of my time has been spent hard at work, feasting, or planning and teaching yoga classes for my very first student ever– an inspiring and inspired young permaculture enthusiast from New York. He and one other Indian girl from up north are, at present, my only fellow volunteers. The farm also staffs local Tamil residents who speak little English but radiate with wide, caring smiles and incomprehensible noises.
Green Smoothie made with ingredients diretly harvested from the gardens; chicken spinach, basil, throat plant, rosella, papaya, bananas and radha’s conciousness, a purple flower which we also make juice with.
Where most of the cooking takes place! The women who run the show are pretty damn badass.
Til next time.