I honestly can’t believe the time flew by so fast! I am all packed up and down to my last 24 hours in India. I am sitting in front of my computer as one hot sticky mess, thanks to a coating of sunscreen and bug spray, preparing myself to spend my last night alone due to the fact that both my roommates leave tonight. It really did take me the first two weeks of the trip to start to get used to life in India and now that it is coming to a close I feel that I am at a point where I could stay longer. That is, until I realized I subconsciously started scratching my bug bites, and come to the conclusion that my body will welcome the change.
Last weekend, we went on a trip to Tiravannamalai and visited some Hindu temples and got to see sacred caves and even experienced two “poojas.” One of which involved two other members of the group and me trekking our way up a mountain at four in the morning. There we were following a barefoot guide and accompanied by two village dogs in the dark with our flashlights and water bottles. Part of me would have preferred to go at a later, shall we say, more reasonable time, but by the amount we were sweating and number of breaks we had to take, I can’t imagine it doing it at a later time when the sun has risen and it is several degrees hotter. As it was, once we finally made it to the top we were able to be cleansed of our bad karma and given chai before we headed down the mountain to meditate at certain caves. It was quite the experience and once we made our way down the mountain we returned to our hotel and met up with our group, who were excited to hear about what happened. When our two-day excursion came to an end we were all ready to go “home.”
In my last week, I tried to take advantage of all the opportunities available. There was a “Tofu and Soymilk Workshop” one day and so a couple of us from our group went to check it out. An Italian man led the workshop, which was such a treat seeing as two of us previously studied abroad in Rome and enjoyed hearing the beautiful language again. Another day I visited Deepam, a school for handicapped children, and it was nice to see that there are resources allotted to help children who need extra help. Some of these students are very bright and the school has helped parents recover faith that their children have gifts to offer. On Tuesday, I had my last day at Solitude, the organic farm I had been working on, and I enjoyed the opportunity to weed alongside “Indrani” a Tamil woman who spoke only Tamil, but somehow managed to relay my task for the day through a mixture of grunts, head nods, and hand motions. During “tea” time I welcomed the break to sit in the shade and felt a sense of satisfaction as I looked out on the rows I had weeded and it really hit me that I had done that. The nicely weeded straight lines of crops I used to see on TV make it look so easy, but when you have to do it by hand in scorching hot sun with a slight breeze here and there it’s a whole another thing. It truly amazes me how people do this day in and day out. While I loved my experience on the farm and found it rewarding I think a large part of it was due to the fact that I wanted to be there and found comfort in knowing that I could leave after lunch and will only be here one month. It is different when you work over eight hours each day for six days a week.
As a parting gift to the American and Tibetan pavilions that had hosted us, the students decided to plant trees. Though it was hard work, it was nice to see how we could plant a small tree now that will help provide shade and add to the beautiful landscape in the future. If I should come back, I know I will look to see how much the trees have grown.
Over the course of this trip, I have met some wonderful people who have contributed to my experience. There is something special that comes about when you live in a new place and can share it with others. I know I learned a great deal from those around me and can only hope to have touched their lives in the way they have impacted mine. Thank you for following along on my journey and encourage you to take your own. If you should come to Auroville, don’t forget to bring plenty of bug spray and sunscreen!