Yesterday morning, I was happily enjoying a shower after our morning work in the garden when suddenly, Sundar excitedly called me to come outside quickly. Good girl I am, of course I rushed out immediately just to find everyone around the water channel surrounding the dormitory building of International House. A checkered keel back, a snake quite common in the water tanks, ponds, rivers and rice paddies in and around Auroville, meant to have its breakfast in… Well, I was just about to say it meant to have it in peace but what we saw wasn’t such a peaceful sight at all.
Keel backs living in fresh water are actually the most cruel amongst Indian snakes, even though not poisonous. It strikes really rapidly and holds on tenaciously to its feed, mostly frogs and fish. In our case, it had caught a really large frog. We’ve even got photos of it but in the name of non-violent communication decided not to publish them – they were just too gross!!!
The keel back snake didn’t like us all following it around the water channel whilst shouting and attempting to take pictures, so it actually decided to end this pursuit by jumping OUT of the water, cutting the corner of the channel and jumping back into it at the other end. What a performance!!!!
Sundar was brave enough to get the poor froggie out of the water and put it to its last rest. Thanks, Sundar. And thanks, nature, for yet another lecture in the cycles of life.
The new dog headquarters for puppies Magic and Sundari are underneath the water tank and more of a palace than just a small hut. For some reason, they really don’t like it at all despite the fact that it’s super spacious, with lots of natural light and of course, it’s all built with recycled materials…
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We’ve worked hard the past couple of weeks and as you reap what you saw, we now start seeing the first tiny, delicate results.
In the meantime, Sunder already put up a shade, seedlings are transplanted and it’s all happening. We’ve even eaten our first soup with fresh chicken spinach from our plots in it, wohow!!
All the while, B is busy with the estethic aspects of International House gardens, i.e. cutting plants to get us the best view from the terrace to “Canada” again, alias the stone formation at the terrain of the Canadian pavilion and getting into the deep end of the pond to clean it out and give the plants the best space to be appreciated by us all.
No wonder, I extended my stay yet again and rescheduled my flight back home to Germany to October 1st. Thanks for being such wonderful hosts, co-volunteers and team!!
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My name is Wiebke, I am German and I currently volunteer for www.the-glass-half-full.org, an initiative of InteGreater Foundation. After having spent some 3 weeks in Auroville to research local best practices in rural development, we figured that such a time span would not do any justice to what’s going on here. So, I returned and decided to dive in even deeper: not just with interviews but some hands on volunteering as well.
During my first visit, I met B from International House, one of the lesser number of residents who live here for over 30 years. B is an amazing fountain of knowledge, experience and wisdom, always prepared to share a good story or two, never in a hurry. He invited me to stay at the campus of International House upon my return – et voila, here I am. I arrived after a sleepless overnight bus ride from Bangalore on Monday morning and immediately felt like back home. The sounds of nature after a hectic day in Bangalore – birds singing, the frogs croaking and… oh there is puppies… Hmm, I’m allergic but they’re so cute (see last blog entry)!!! Anyways, B (kindness in person), yummy fresh organic food and the sound of nature continued to be my companions for the day and everything flowed. By lunchtime, I had visited a Korean artist who makes the most gorgeous accessories from waste material like old cassettes, I was registered with residential services, had a pass to Matrimandir (yeah!!!!) and agreed with Manu which volunteering activities at International House I could participate in. I went for the gardening and next morning we started.
Getting up at 6 am was easy. It’s still nice and fresh outside, best time of the day really and Sunder had promised tea before we start. He showed me how to make it with our own fresh lemon grass, tulsi (holy basil), cinnamon and Hibiscus flowers. With a little dash of lemon – magically – the tea turned red, just like the color of the Hibiscus flowers. Yumm!!!
After that, it was off to work. Real work. Sunder had already prepared new garden beds that needed compost to improve the soil. For a couple of days now, we covered the beds, created more plots, turned the soil and took out the weed.
It’s hard work but there is nothing better to quieten the mind and strengthen the body. When you see how there’s actually stuff growing that you can put in your mouth without having to worry where it comes from and what pesticides have been used on it – it just feels good. And knowing how much work everything is, how much sweat goes into each little tomato, each sprout of spinach, each stem of lemon grass – you suddenly don’t just consume it. You savor the food that’s been grown and looked after and harvested. You appreciate the time and effort gone into it and… you go slow 🙂
So, check out what you eat, enjoy it and if you don’t – maybe, it’s time for your own kitchen garden??