Friday, December 18, 2015

Sadhana Forest Auroville - Monday - Forests and Food

It is 6 am. I walk into the forest with my fellow comrades. We are on a mission. To build bands that conserve water and to plant trees. I am wearing a half torn t-shirt and an old pair of shorts. For the next two hours, we are walking the forest near the Sadhana community. We divide responsibilities. 

Building Forests
Every individual is given two water cans. Past volunteers have planted little trees and plants all over the forest. Next to these plants, there is a small bottle, that is inserted into the soil. At the end of this bottle, is a long tube, that is connected to the deep roots of the plant. This ensures that whatever water we put into this bottle, will go to the very roots of the plant. This is a much more efficient way to water the plant, than merely sprinkling it all over the plant. The water tank, is placed at one place and once the water in your can is over, you have to walk back to the water tank, fill your can and go back to the plants again. Two filled water cans would carry at least 4-5 litres of water. It was quite tiring carrying these cans back and forth. Fortunately the sun was on our side and it was not too hot. Now i know, why they start off so early in the morning.

But this whole exercise, is quite engaging in a whole different sort of way. I had to carry the soil in my hand and feel the earth. Sweat dripping over my forehead, I would fall down often or trip over my water cans. Also the realization, that you are helping a fully alive organism, grow and sustain itself, by simply watering it, makes you feel more connected to your roots. It made me think about where my food came from. How this was the process the farmer, had to undertake to make the vegetables and fruits that I eat at home. How easily, I would throw away a piece of fruit, not realizing the time and care behind every fruit that emerged from the soil. I think I will go back home and start gardening. Maybe adopt a plant. Maybe adopt two...
Cooking for myself
After a thirty minute breakfast break, my second shift starts. This time I am given the responsibility to join the team in the kitchen that is making the idli paste. The rice is soaked in water day before, for breakfast the next day. That morning we first had to grind the urad dal and make a paste out if it. Then we had, to mix the rice batter and water and other ingredients. You had to keep mixing the bater as it was mixed in the machine. It was really noisy and you had to be there for two hours. Once the batter was ready, you had to wash all the utensils and the machine used to make the batter. The whole process took you about three hours. If you had a team of three people, it would take an hour or less. But with one individual, it was back breaking work and would take you at least three to four hours. I had three companions today. But it was still quite an exhaustive process.

But I am exhausted. Tired beyond measure. I overestimated my capabilities, to undertake physical tasks on a field. When I started my my first morning shift, I walked out onto the field, shoulders upright, with a confident smile on my face, and with sturdy long steps. At the end of the second shift, my shoulders are drooping, sweating dripping down my forehead, my knees are weak, and all I want to do is fall down flat on my cot. The afternoon sun started beating down on me and I started feeling dizzy. Fortunately, I was near the main hut. I went there and lay flat in one corner. 

I drink some water to re-hydrated my dehydrated body. I go to the compost toilet after a while. I dreaded this moment. The toilet had a compost pit for human feces and a urinal hole for urine. Once you were done with your task, you had to pour saw dust over the pit and then pour some water over the urinal. It was already super hot and this activity, drained me off more of the  limited energy I had. At 12 30 pm, I have lunch and then walk towards my hut. I move away the mosquito net and crawl onto my cot, as soon as my head, touched the pillow, my brain stopped functioning (not literally) and it seemed like my body stopped too. I was fast asleep in no time.

The rest of the day was just normal. I go for a swim that afternoon and feel the water on my body, as I go underwater in this baby pool. Dinner was tasty and healthy, for a change.


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