Sorry in advanced for the formatting of this post, my device doesn’t seem to like spaces in between paragraphs!
If there is ever a dull day on the farm, it is most likely because I wasn’t paying enough attention. Life chugs along, crisis after crisis, solution after solution, meeting after meeting, banana chip after banana chip– my initial expectations of peace and serenity are not exactly the end result (thus far) but, as travellers endearingly quote, “it’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.”
The farm that I am currently living on has not had running water for about ten days, due to a windmill failure (this windmill is completely responsible for the water system.) At first, it was not so bad; “just another exciting obstacle to overcome as a team!” Cried my optimistic half. This water crisis has since resulted with many wonderful things, such as ineffectively showering via a watering can; chaotic mornings in the cafe (it is difficult to cook things that must be boiled when there is no water to be boiled); rickety, clumsy trips on the moped trying to transport water from a spicket down the road; massive amounts of time spent hand-watering the crops on the farm (normally, hoses and sprinklers do the dirty work for us) and instances such as running out of filtered drinking water, driving to go get filtered drinking water, then running out of petrol, and then walking home to get another bike to go get petrol to go get water so that life can go on. Every day, the windmill is “going to be fixed by tomorrow,” and everyday, tomorrow arrives, and it is still laying as a rusted metal corpse upon the ground at our feet.
In between peeling plantains, planting onions, creating mint beds, researching ayurvedic properties of local food and assisting with orchestrating meetings for the Localicious Auroville Food Movement, I did manage to find time to attend a wedding of the cousin of the wife of the owner of the farm. In my mind, Indian weddings are week-long crazy parties of rampant color and lively dancing and ceremonial hoopra . Tamil weddings are not quite to vivacious, but there is still chaos for the clueless (the clueless being myself and the drunks) and there is definitely color and there is definitely ceremony. The day of the wedding, I had my hair cut at a men’s barbershop where no English was spoken (I do not recommend this if you at all care how your hair looks), packed my bag, and jumped behind the owner of the farm on his motorcycle for a three hour ride through small villages along a road flanked by mud huts and men and women laboriously wading through their rice and millet paddies. On these roads, the traffic is not so bad – instead of buses and drivers swerving around each other with insanity, the hold-ups include dogs humping in the middle of the street, old ladies, and goats.
The wedding happened in a two-part process: one section that started at about 10pm, and another section the following morning at 6am. I found myself whisked away by scooter to a friend of a friend of a friend who happened to be a beautician. She dolled me up, wrapped me up in a sari, and sent me on my way. After a breathless ride of sitting side-saddle on the scooter, I was beckoned onto a bus of wedding guests and stuffed into a corner for the 45 minute ride (this felt somewhat like going 40 mph down Stickney Hill Road frost heaves in the winter). This was particularly noticeable because I was too tall for my seat and the ceiling was very, very hard.
The night was a whirlwind of drummers, bright lights, offerings to the divine, dancing drunkards roadblocking the wedding procession, and finger-eating traditional Tamil cuisine off of giant banana leaves. When we arrived home at about 1am, I spent the night on the hard floor beside my host’s two children and the mother-in-law (it is the norm to eat and sleep on the floor for Tamil people; beds and tables are not very prevalent, it seems.) At 5am then next morning I was awoken to be delivered to the friend of a friend of a friend to dress me in a new sari so that I could do it all again.
The excitement (exhaustingly) never stops. One day, I was entrusted to carry a sleeping one-and-half-year-old in my arms on the back of a motorcycle. One night, I almost stepped on one of India’s “number 1 most feared snakes” . At one point, I adopted a lost kitten and then found its half eaten corpse behind the shower one day (her name was Chapathi). I no longer remember what it’s like not to have diarrhea.
In conclusion, I wake up and go to sleep in constant awe, every day.
Meanwhile, check out the blog of one of the guys I work with. Greg (http://ultramlhd.tumblr.com/) just moved to Auroville with his wife and two daughters and writes a bit about the farm.
Til next time,