Inspiring..

- It takes a village to raise a child - African saying
- Nature is our best teacher
- we are the world, we are the ones to make a brighter day!..

- Natural farming, food forest

- We dig our grave with our teeth

- Freedom of expression is my birth right

- Freedom of speech comes with great responsibility

- I become what I see in myself. All that thought suggests to me, I can do; All that thought reveals to me, I can become. This should be man’s unshakeable faith in himself, because God dwells in him.

- The Mother said - it is not this OR that, it is this AND that
- Life is for living not to understand
-
‎"Sometimes you can't see the forest through the trees."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Palani


  He is my classmate, friend, team mate and fellow Aurovilian.

  He decided to stay with us for a few days which turned out to 2 weeks.  He had high blood pressure and felt he need to take a break from his regular life which i will not mention.
  Doing the accounts for several units in Auroville is very hectic and stressing to keep everyone on track especially at the end of the year/when taxes have to be submitted; suddenly know one has money.
  We had mega plans to change our diet.  From raw food, liquid diets, no sugar; am not sure of that one, etc. i continued my regular diet with more sprouts.  Anyway, meat appears rarely on the plate.

  Smoking and drinking out of the question.  With all these new habits and several vices on a holiday; Palani got back in shape in no time.
  Of course the forest environment is a good platform.  And working on the land uses more muscles then when we on a desk :)
  Good to have him around, it had been ages since we connected.
  He told us to have a cow is like giving life to the place!  beautiful. So a cow we are after; oh wow, gonna have to wake up early to milk!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Planting November 2009 Day II

  The day after our super drenched saturday planting, our boys came along.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
  They are the AV clean group (they go around cleaning around Auroville from garbage, etc.) when they are not doing that they help other places - in this case, planting trees in Lumière. We had a lot of left to plant approx.600 trees.  Planting is the easy and fun part. come and dig and fill holes?!


   Again, in pouring rain we all began operation planting trees.  straight to it, we filled the remaining pits in no time with smiles, laughter and sweat washed with the rains.
  A little yellow raincoated girl, Yashoda, following her father; a pleasant and welcoming sight!
  Again unprepared for so many planters at their pace, i was running with the wheelbarrow placing the trees; this time Raja was there to help. phew!



  We headed for the last field (4 acres) which is out of our bounds; unfenced and difficult to keep a watch out for (not to say we dont).  Elumalai, earnest and eager as usual.  Ravi, persistant and tough headed.  Ganesh, gentle and excited to do more fun. Palani, excited and playful..Padmanaban, the x-chief of the AV clean group; bustling with mantras as he planted and Kaliamoorthy, forced himself out of bed to make it today and not tomorrow - just to say that all sorts of friends were here.  We headed out to the field and explained them to plant as they wished but 4 meters apart minimum like that i was free to run and get the remaining plants.


  A full round we went planting when we realised there were 3 more wheelbarrows to plant.  they were all like "we already planted 4 meters apart, now what?!" :)
  The rains are a good time to plant trees and i was not going to wait..so we continued another round planting a little closer making sure we were mixing the species!
  thank you guys!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Planting November 2009 Day I


  Who will come?
  I SMS-ed plenty of friends to come over and plant trees if they wished.  Lots of rains since several days; so i had everyone confirm as i could prepare snacks accordingly :)
  It was pouring on saturday.  They day i had chosen as pits were ready to be plated .
  woke up in the morning with heavy showers.  i had to plant those trees to benefit from the showers.  Told everyone if it pours do not come!
  I had several courageous brothers and sisters come over.  It was fun.  It was so wet.
  i was so unprepared.  i had to play host, organiser and distributor.  As people trickled into Lumière i realised that it was actually happening that day.  Tea i prepared to warm up everyone.  B, our first candidate, came cycling; excited to plant more trees as he already did a whole bunch the other day at Samriddhi.
  Muthu and Dean brought breakfast.  Sweet of them.  Aurosylle and Ishana too made it in between an interval of rain.  Pleasant sight to see Ishana excited to get to work. right?
  Everyone wanted to get down to planting; when i thought while they were having tea i could catch up with distributing the plants to their pits - plan failed.  I ran with the wheel barrow with plants to get them started planting which is the fun bit - i mean planting not running with a wheel barrow :)  All this mind you, in pouring rain. wow!
  Effective they were. i had to keep running from nursery to pits to keep the pace going :)
  fun it was.  i believe they enjoyed it to!  we planted 400 trees that morning.
  Raja, Muthu's younger brother, discovered a quick method to make hole for plant.  Step into the filled pit, already with compost mixed, making a hole big enough for plant.  WIth knives made out of the palmyra, sharp and effective, the plastic of the plants were easily removed.  The old man's idea!  traditional.
  Everyone was happy, smiling and rejoicing the lovely rains.   the morning ended with them kids throwing mud at each other..i was their last victim - red earth it was splashed all over! good memories.
  A remaining 600+ trees are to be planted..The Auroville Clean Group will come Sunday.
  Let see how that goes.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bokashi li li

  Bokashi in japanese means formentation. http://bokashi.com.au/How-Bokashi-works.htm
  It is a method to make compost. very simple.
Sourya showed us her installation: a bucket/mini barrrel, a tap at the bottom and a small container with rice husk activated with EM. that's all?! yep.
Well, what do you do with your kitchen peels/left-over-to-be-thrown food? take it to your Bokashi bucket and allow it to forment..
When Sourya, my cousin, showed this to us, we were delighted because our kitchen waste is not ready for our vermicompost; we needed the missing link.
A juice accumulates at the bottom. With the help of the tap, you empty the juices out regularly to a plant..
Excited with this missing link to our composting methods; we drove off to Koot road (nearby mini town) to buy the necessary equipment and returned home to put it together. wow for that price too.
We have begun to use it. filling the bucket and sprinkling rice husk over.
We gave a bokashi self made bucket to our friends Akash and Monica who are thrilled to use their waste for a good purpose since anyway it is going nowhere but to a pile god knows where. we will pick the bucket when full and use it here in the forest!
A step in the dream coming true! :)
Anyone interested? we can install one for you (we going multinational) and replace the full bucket with a new one.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

rain, yes!

thank you, thank you so much

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Moving the Shredder

I must admit, I enjoyed this far too much.

We had accumulated another massive pile of small branches for shredding... but they were stored on the other side of the forest. How to get the shredder within dragging distance? No tractor, no cows, no help. Just two boys, an Old Man, and me.

So?

Use the boys as bullocks:

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

Water Tank

The boys came to change the Unicorn's flat tire. I greeted them smelling of B.O. and covered in a mucky substance that closely resembled diarrhea. The twelve-year-old mechanic looked at me strangely and asked for Martanda. "Oh," I replied calmly, "he's in the water tank."

Then the singing resumed. It started as a bubbling echo from no where and rose, slowly, steadily, to Jonas screaming in the belly of the whale. God knows what Martanda was singing, but all of the Greenbelt heard him.

Just another day at Lumière.

It's our third day without water, and while we're finding other ways to wash ourselves occasionally, the dishes are starting to get sticky and the bathroom pipes have that awful smell of stagnation. Martanda, who's even more hopelessly optimistic than I am, saw this as a brilliant opportunity--to clean the water tank.

So up the work tree he climbed, across the death-defying divide he jumped, and into the almost 20-foot deep tank he plunged with a bamboo ladder, a bucket, cleaning supplies, and a wire brush I sent up via rope. And, of course, he recorded it all on camera:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shredder in Action

It's old. It's rusted. It's worn. The radiator leaks and it makes absurd noises. But, as we discovered today, it works.

Here's the shredder in action:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Space of Healing

It's indisputable that Lumière does something special to its residents. Even the dogs--who arrived angry, frightened, and ill--quickly grew into healthy, happy pups.

The latest case and point is Palani, who arrived with high blood pressure and deep anxiety on October 6. He changed his diet and habits and turned to the forest. He helped clear the path, prune the cashews, rake the leaves, and do whatever else needed doing. He read Paulo Coehlo and Grimm's Fairy Tales. He stayed home alone and listened to nature. He relaxed. And within one week, he's been healed.


It's official: The doctor says his BP's back to normal, and he seems a whole lot happier.

What he doesn't yet know is that Lumière can be like Hotel California: He may be physically ready to leave, but we have no plans to let him check out...

;)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tractor Ride

There are so many days in this place that I take a moment to look at my life and laugh. Things are wonderful, but they sure are different than I ever thought they'd be.

For example, while I grew up in a farm town in Massachusetts, I never actually thought I'd drive a giant tractor. I've ridden in the carts of hay they pull while apple picking or choosing Christmas trees, but the seat behind the wheel was always reserved for someone who knew what they were doing. Except in India.

Ex-Road Service Cavalier Martanda needed the monstrous John Deer to pull a shredder from a forest on the other side of Auroville to Lumière. Trusty side-kick Catherine thought it would be hilarious to join. It was.

Never have I been on something so uncomfortable... nor have I ever driven anything as powerful. What an adventure!

And now, perched randomly in the topes of Lumière, the rusty shredder waits to eat loads of branches and twigs from the cashew prunings...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Welcome to the World, Batch #4!

It doesn't matter how many times we hatch eggs, I love the mornings that the chicks claw their way out of their fragile shells and into the world. Each time I hear the fresh chirps of the babies, I rush into the storeroom and bother the Mamma Hen until she's pecked me so much I'm afraid my hands will bleed. It's just too tempting to see those fuzzballs!

This time, from our second batch of Grace eggs, we have six healthy, happy, chicks and five rotten eggs.

Here's hoping each lives a long, healthy, happy life at Lumière...

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Path Clearing

It's a big job. Kilometers of jogging paths once lined the fence and wound their way through the cashew topes, but years of unuse have turned the whole lot into an indistinguishable maze. So we three set out to clear the way.

Martanda, Palani, and I spent the afternoon tripping, taping, and drilling stakes into the ground to clearly designate a one kilometer jogging path along the fence. We still have some marking to do... but the way is fresh, clear, beautiful. What a place to run!

The final touches require a whole lot of feet regularly stamping their way between our markings... Anyone interested in coming for a run?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Baby Cobra

Some weeks ago we discovered we shared the land with a rather large cobra.

This morning we discovered it's having babies.


Quite impressive, the markings on this little killer! (Unfortunately the pictures are less impressive...)

Friday, October 2, 2009

a new place to wash hands...and other things

Some people are surrounded by fancy things they purchased with hard-earned or otherwise acquired money. Some people need everything they own to be nice and shiny and new. Some people buy all the piece required for their vision.

We are not like those people.

We are more like scavengers. (I say that with fondness.) We roam from forest to forest, learning what we can, and implementing the best ideas at Lumière but with our twist--which usually means making the best of it with whatever we've already got to work with.

For example, the spice rack was originally created with termite-eaten window frames and donated wood. The pond is filled with plants from a bookshop, Forecomers, a friend's house, and I forget where else. And our latest addition is the Lumiere take on a drip/water-preserving/handwash thing. All that's required is a cracked plastic bucket, a chewed-through dog rope, some old rubber, and some creative thinking:



Two minutes of running water and not nearly as much waste as the tap!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Sunshine Cashew Pruning

Thomas and Sabrine visiting from France after plenty of adventures around the world in the east, they heard of us from Tal, my very good friend from Israel.
Happily we welcomed them here in the forest. A lovely capsule to stay in. They committed themselves to helping on the land for the time they stayed!
Our main project presently is pruning the cashew trees for next years harvest.
Sou, a friend of theirs from Australia joined us. He stayed in a hammock attached to a cashew tree! Lovely to have over open, good hearted fellow beings of this planet on the land!
The pruned branches were taken on the oustide of the fence to be placed by the old man! A happy man he is when there are new people around :)
We visited Bernard from Aurobrindavan; a pending to-do since a long long time! His vegetable garden is made from many layers of soaked leaves, charcoal and a little of sand – their land is pebbl y and tough..
He uses everything from the land. Beautiful work!
Another pending to-do: Sadhana forest! Aviram took the group aroudn explaining their work. Aah, so inspiring. Lovely to see the dedicated work going on; on tough terrain with plenty of pebbles!
Grateful we are here higher up on the plateau where the earth has top soil and is fertile. There is 50m difference in elevation between Sadhana and Lumière. We are at the top of the water shed.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Worms a-hoy

After the rounds of Auroville in the hunt for the vermicompost experts; listening to Jino demonstrate to us the way he made their vermicompost in Discipline Farm, then a quick look at the one in the Botanical gardens and to finish our research - the next day we visited Bernard at Aurobrindavan.

We have 3 boxes; 2ft x 3ft x2ft made by bricks with a pipe for the vermiwash.

Jino was nice to give us a few handful of worms mixed with compost..we took it ourselves as he was bedridden.

We made a bed of white sand and placed the worms with compost in a pile as there as not enough so to save them we added leaves to cool it and sprinkled water to keep its temperature down. We were a little nervous as the cow dung that was ordered a week had not arrived. We had planned to commence our vermicompost adventure with cow dung, get those worms to reproduce and acclimatise :)

We would like to use foliage and our left overs from the kitchen to make vermicompost..

“Vermicompost is 9 times better then normal compost!..The liquid that passes through the compost when we sprinkle it to keep it moist is very good for watering the plants or vegetables.. there are several types of worms..just put some leaves on the ground with some moisture and worms will begin to come and you transfer them to your box..it can take upto 3 weeks to get your vermicompost.. “ I am narrating what they have told me – we are excited and so eager to see happen!

The 3 boxes are side by side so we are trying to use the one in the middle and use the 2 on each side to begin decomposing leaves and and waste from the kitchen and when the center will be ready we will allow the worms to vacate to the fresh awaiting decomposing leaves..smart eh? It is working (positive affirmation) :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

"Be Like A Flower"

Be like a flower. One must try to become like a flower: open, frank, equal, generous and kind. Do you know what it means?

A flower is open to all that surrounds it: Nature, light, the rays of the sun, the wind, etc. It exerts a spontaneous influence on all that is around. It radiates a joy and a beauty.

It is frank: It hides nothing of its beauty, it lets it flow frankly out of itself. What is within, what is in its depth, it lets it come out so that everyone can see it.

It is equal: It has no preference. Everyone can enjoy its beauty and its perfume, without rivalry. It is equal and the same for everybody. There is no difference, or anything whatsoever.

Then generous: without reserve or restriction, how it gives the mysterious beauty and the very own perfume of Nature. It sacrifices itself entirely for our pleasure, even its life it sacrifices to express this beauty and the secret of the things gathered within itself.

And then, kind: It has such a tenderness, it is so sweet, so close to us, so loving. Its presence fills us with joy. It is always cheerful and happy.

Happy is he who can exchange his qualities with the real qualities of the flowers. Try to cultivate in yourself and refine the qualities.

- The Mother

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Germinating seeds with Anastasia’s advice

  Sunday.
  Which is my relax day? Thinking about it maybe I should pick a day.
  Like everyday, a little more progress has been made clearing the path around the inside of the land.
  Then with the help of Catherine, we dug mini trenches with the crowbar so that we could put the drip irrigation pipe underground away from rats and walking cows.  Thanks to the rains last night, it was easier – the ground was soft!
  The papaya trees that we transplanted from my mothers are doing great! Aah. This summer we will have papayas for breakfast!
  A surprise visit by Thomas and Sabrine; they were recommended by Tal to meet us.  They are very much interested in Auroville and the land.  They will be staying with us for some time!  A little early to say much about them J
  Whilst they were checking out the space of light (capsule) we soaked seeds in our saliva for 9 minutes to germinate.  We even soaked chilli seeds!  Somehow after a few seconds it dawned on us that maybe it will burn!  It was bearable. We soaked ladies finger too in the same time, will the ladies finger be hot? J

Saturday, September 19, 2009

In the Moonshine

We were late for dinner. (Surprise.)

Speeding around the sandy bends of the forest path, we suddenly stopped. We couldn’t just leave what lay there alone.

Little green eyes stared at us full of fright. A plastic cup stood beside them, half-filled with dirty water. A kitten sat abandoned and confused.

Was she left, or found? We wondered. But the lack of answered didn’t alter our actions; without hesitation I hopped off the bike and coaxed her to me. She came quickly. I climbed back on, and we returned to the house. It was obvious we were going to adopt the mangy, scarred, starving cat. It’s apparently what we do.

The idea was to have two dogs and a cat. We nursed Gopal back to life. Saedi/Rani is recovering nicely. And now we have…Moonshine?

Flow in work

   Our main work presently between the watchman, Vasantha and myself is to prune the cashew.  The branches we use to heighten and thicken the fence. We have so much of it, phew.
  Depending on where we are pruning we bring them to a particular location, i.e. close to the vegetable garden we pile around that fence the branches..
  And day-by-day the fence gets filled up. And year-by-year hopefully the thorns will grow over it to protect the land.  Perumal planted thorns all around the land but with the cashews growing over them, the sunlight was cut away preventing them to grow.  Today, with sunlight managing to peep threw at different places, incredible how fast the thorns grow! Thank you perumal.
  With a chainsaw, wow, the work does progress fast. What a clean job! Thank you chainsaw.
  Yay, tomorrow the first load of compost will arrive.  We can mix the vegetable garden soil with compost.
 
 


Friday, September 18, 2009

Pruning

  Much better today, my sun burn from the other day is healing..the aloe verra has helped tremendously; I mean I am not red as a tomato – it is the sensitiveness of the skin.  Thank you aloe verra for cooling my skin in the evening J
  It has not rained last night, well not enough and compost is not sufficient to commence mixing it with the soil around the sprinklers; so we continued to prune the cashew trees.
  10 acres are done till today.  The old man and I are a great team.  While the chainsaw worked hard and quick the old man pruned the smaller already cut wood to sell and use the remaining twigs as fencing material. 
  He is a good 63 years old and still very active and persevering!
  Into the afternoon, after a good crab meal (as his son-in-law) did not bring him food the last days; I believe it was to make him happy, his hand began to hurt.  He moved to arranging remaining cashew branches to the vegetable garden fence whilst I pulled them from under the trees.
  Feels good to have a complete day of work and to finish it well.  7 trees in a day with just 2, am very centent J
  The dogs, Gopal and Rani, were super company; following you everywhere and playful with each other. Avoiding mentioning Gopal’s intentions every now and then J

Neo – the couch surfer


  The variety of people we have on this planet is incredible; in all its masala there are resemblances that we could put in little boxes and arrange it so well in a matrix – simple to understand.
  It is always a pleasrure and relief to have new people coming and going; people visiting, sharing their life experience or simply participating physically on the land.  There is always something to do.

  He came as a couchsurfer and after 2 days we were happy with him. 
  He became our guest for the next week.

  Neo, quiet and energetic, lent a hand painting, clearing a path for jogging (so we can regularly check the fence), dishes and was just around with his calm presence.
  He even contributed to an extension of the drip irrigation for the avocadoes.
  

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Preperation for the Vegetable garden 2009

  Beautiful showers the night before – thank you!
  Will not give credit to my little mini rain dance that I did jokingly in front of them folks :)
  My roommate Catherine has been persisting that we give attention to the vegetable garden soon – I had to promise to do it as soon as it rained. it would be easier on our hands to pull out the grown weeds making the garden a forest of weeds.
  Beautiful day indeed!  After a good session of pranayama and feeding our stomachs with Auroville bread we made our way to the weed forest :)
  What a site, butterflies fluttering all over!
  Why remove the weeds? Many say it is to give more energy to the actual plants we want, others would say it looks cleaner or easier to plant your seedlings, etc.
  Am sure there is a reason for weeds and a harmony between the plants. The weeds we remove, we will put them back around the seedlings to protect from the sun.
  Throughout the year if we had removed the weeds or piled leaves on/around the plants; it would have cut out the sun to the weeds and slowed their growth.
  Today Friday, we will receive the seeds so that we can soak them in our saliva and germinate them before transplanting them to the garden. 
  Soaking the seeds, not all, of course, that would be funny!  The few that we soak will influence the others.  The idea is that they will register our biochemical beings and will grow to provide for us to be healthy human beings.  You can see vividly the difference when we soak them in our saliva J
  We trying to grow veggies the whole year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Gopal’s Girl

She was terrified. Beaten. Bullied. A skinny little pup in the middle of Edaianchavadi, surviving only by the gracious generosity of Lorraine, who visited daily to feed her. Lorraine was the only person trusted.

Gopal was a mangy, wormy, injured puppy and grew into a fine dog. Why would we want to take home anything else?

So suddenly, with the help of Lorraine and a pet van, we had a new dog on the outskirts of Lumiere. The trouble is, as soon as Lorraine left, the dog found herself a thorned fortress under a fallen cashew tree and refused to leave. As much as we wanted her, she didn’t quiet trust us.

It took some coaxing—and another visit from Lorraine—but the dog made it to the house, where we fed and loved her for an hour or so. In the quiet of the forest, while our backs were turned, she disappeared.

Another dog gone. Another failed attempt.

But the next night… I wondered out to get a bottle of water. Gopal greeted me at the door, as usual. But there were two beady dog eyes glowing from under the table… the lady dog returned! My heart went soft; how nice to see her.

She was fed again, played with Gopal, but by morning, had once again disappeared.

The day grew hotter. We weeded and weeded the garden. And as I squatted tugging at plants, I was suddenly attacked by warm kisses and golden-brown fur. Gopal was busy; She was back.

And since then she’s stayed. The two dogs run around like crazed puppies, playing and panting and loving life. The world is so much better when you share it. Two-by-two they herd cows (kind of), bark at intruders (sometimes), and otherwise fulfil the duties of farm dogs (like looking super cute).

Now she only needs a name… Cleo(patra)? Rani? Saedi?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Avocado

  Mmmm, yellow and creamy, available in Auroville from AuroOrchard; originally from Mexico..
  Driving to an absurd empty appointment with the usual outcome of delays in time and invalid unexpected promises made by Dayakara, Pet vetinery and dog shelter, I had cooked up a plan back up plan to go see the avocados growing in the orchard nearby.
  We checked out the trees which are big and had several baby trees growing in between them.  Lovely trees!
  Arriving at the farm, where I grew up for 2 years, the smells and sounds were so familiar and memories revived – this is where I drove a tractor when I was 6 years young, helped cut grass for the cows and ran between the corn fields..
  Gerard, a wonderful swiss man, in charge of the place casually invited us to check out the saplings in his nursery. I was thrilled to see them big and healty. He yelled from the balcony, “how many do you want?” he replied saying take 5 with joy and happiness!
  Excitement and joyful in our hearts we decided to call Lorraine, a Californian living in Auroville and taking care of stray dogs in the neighboring villages.  On our way back with our saplings of avocado, we drove to the dog sanctuary, Integral animal care center or something like that..
  It is a small piece of land that Auroville allocated. It has simple “keet” structure shacks with no trees as yet.
  Invited by her to walk the place and narrate the story of the newborn place was inspiring and encouraging!
  She drives around the villages everyday with left over food from the collective kitchen and feeds the dogs.  Picture the dogs wagging their tail at the sight of her riding her moped towards them in the distance.
  She pours her active love on all of them unconditionally.  It is obvious the effect it has on them – she shared a little story of how one dog cured itself of cancer day by day in no time!
  In their situation with very little financial support they still continue to work with dedication and active love!
  We returned home with no puppy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

And then there were two.

Our numbers are decreasing.

I don’t think we’ve reached the endangered species mark yet, but we’re certainly on the watch list.

There were nights when every bed in the house and outside was full. Julie, Monica, Dean, Muthu, couch surfers, friends, whomever. Most have moved home. Dean and Muthu, or longest-term residents, have tragically departed to open their guesthouse and restaurant. I, for one, am devastated. Even Neo’s moving on, finding a new couch to surf, and requests from others are shockingly quiet. So suddenly it’s just Martanda and me.

And there was a time when we could almost boast 30 chickens. Eight adults, four babies from June, ten colored chics, and nine eggs from Grace. Thanks to the mongooses, the cat, and the attack of territorial mamma hens, we now have eight adults, one baby from June, six colored chics (that will join Dean and Muthu soon), and one hatchling from Grace. (We lost all three of the beautiful dark ones.) So we have ten chickens.

We also had an abundance of fuzzy four-legged friends. Gopal came early, weak and weary, and has grown into the dog of the Land. We tried to find him a friend… First in the form of three adorable puppies, which were taken back by the owners after they had second thoughts; then we found a big white dog who ran away on the first night; and we visited the animal shelter a couple times but found none for us to fall in love with. Biscotti, the cat, had proven an excellent addition (despite his killing sprees), but he too left with Dean and Muthu.

Martanda vetoed ducks and goats. I’m sceptical about geese (who are aggressive) and the cow (which will be a lot of work). So prospects are slim.

Not saying we’re not filling the Land with life. We’ve acquired avacado trees and papaya trees and ordered more seeds for the garden than we could ever use. Things are just a lot quieter than they used to be…

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Oil bath

  Sunday it is, on the land we decided to give ourselves the pleasure of soaking ourselves in sesame oil.
  Muthu, our dear friend, being a local and having the knowing-ness of the traditions of the land, he commenced with Catherine as the first victim. J

  We are to face the rising sun.  He sprinkled oil on the floor at her feet and poured plenty of oil on the crown of her head – aaah feeling, no? – there he went tapping with his palm all over her head stronger and stronger.. brains shaking’, swirling and moving all over!
  Then moving to the neck, arms, legs and back and to finish we poured oil into her ears. All along she kept purring, sighing and moaning; these are signs of the benefits of an oil bath – you relax, surrender, nourish your skin and hair, give each other company, cooling the body, feeling of softness, tranquillity and plenty of laughter!
  This is part of a whole procedure.  The next step is to remove the oil from the body that has not soaked with “shikakai” (natural powder) – wow does it work on the skin!
  Now what? Oh, yeah, we tend to do this in the morning so that we can have a great meal as it stirs your appetit.aah.all relaxed with a great meal cooked by our Muthu’s mom – we are eager to join them in the village to return and take a power nap!

Friday, September 11, 2009

"Avocado oh"

Woke up this morning with our avocado saplings strewn all over; Gopal (our beautiful young dog) the culprit innocently played with them and that was my first priority of the day after filling my stomach.
The avocadoes were already pulled out of the ground as the roots grew out of the packet tearing them. They require more attention when this happens. David advised me to cut the torn roots neatly and make sure they are watered well!
Finding a spot for them is about space management; decided to continue adding to the fruit orchard near the space of light (capsule). They can get very big the avocado tree!
What I like most of taking care of a forest is that it requires vision and planning. Everything we do today is visibly obvious in many years to come; it’s like doing everything small for the larger picture.
Mmmm..Yummy creamy avocadoes!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Boys & their hens

These Auroville boys are truly something special.

I sit and watch as Martanda and Muthu rattle of incredible knowledge about the trees, the shrubs, the animals. They tell us what to eat and drink for whatever ailments or improvements we’re seeking. They explain how to help things grow and to make the Land live better. And they are so goddam good with the animals.



The two mamma chickens pecked each other so much we had to separate them and tend to their wounds. Watching Martanda and Muthu gently hold the hens, wipe their faces, clean their wounds, and love them softly… This place nurtures such an incredible connection amongst living souls it’s amazing. There’s so much to learn.

We are silly to think we actually have any control over this divine anarchy; we like to pretend that we’re protecting the forest but it’s absurd. We are playthings of the Land, learning and growing per Her wish, not ours. We can hardly help steer the course according to our dreams; instead, I think, everything we do is part of Her plan. And she has found characters here that embrace Her teachings and connect in a magical way to Her creatures, and the rest of us are eager to play along.

We may have the might to eat the chickens, but they run the show. They have our hearts. We are tools to help their lives, and they know we’d never hurt them.

It’s a humbling and heartening thought.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Chez Lumière

CouchSuring.org is awesome.

According to Wikipedia, it is:
...the largest hospitality exchange network, with approximately 1.4 million members in 231 countries and territories...

After registering, which is free, members have the option of providing very detailed information and pictures of themselves and of the sleeping accomodation being offered, if any...

Members looking for accomodation can search for hosts using several parameters such as age, location, sex, and activity level. Home stays are entirely consensual between the host and guest, and the duration, nature, and terms of the guest's stay are generally worked out in advance to the convenience of both parties. No monetary exchange takes place except under certain circumstances (e.g. the guest may compensate the host for food). After using the service, members can leave a noticable reference about their host or guest.

Instead of or in addition to accommodation, members also offer to provide guide services or travel-related advice. Couchsurfing also provides editable travel guides and forums where members may seek travel partners or advice. Couchsurfing is also focused on "social networking" and members organize activities such as camping trips, bar crawls, meetings, and sporting events.

The site also features a searchable database of hundreds of upcoming events organized by couchsurfing members...
We’ve had quite a few visitors through this service, and we’ve embraced them as graciously as possible. We shared meals, laughs, everything. By the end of it, they too have fallen in love with the Land. (How could you not?) Yet I realized today that while they may get a free bed and a free meal or two out of the deal, its Lumière that really benefits.

This can be a lonely place, even for those who cherish solitude. The near-constant flow of visitors adds new energy and life to the Land, and it’s incredible to learn from the myriad of perspectives. Plus, couch surfers are basically free labor.

I tease. Kind of. I realized today that each has left a mark on the Land, contributed to Lumière in some way. One helped me with a super clean of the kitchen. Another hung a shelf in the storeroom. Yesterday we had two surfers, and they climbed with Martanda to the top of the windmill to set it free from its cyclone lock. Today Neo is going above and beyond—working side by side in levelling the dirt, digging holes, and doing whatever else boys do with tools and a forest to play with. While we went out shopping, he painted the storeroom. And Dean and Muthu—while not couch surfers, they too have busily built a duck house, spruced up the capsule, and made more meals than any of us can count.


With all these guests, Lumière will become a Land of natural luxury.


So please: come, couch surfers, come! Come to Lumière!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

It comes an end, and a new beginning

There Land is ripe with anxious anticipation. The workers haven’t worked this hard all summer. The house is in a constant state of disaster, purging, cleaning, organization. The trees rustle a little more than usual. They too know the Lord of the Land is returning.

And I, after more than three months of playing Queen consort, will retire my responsibilities and return to the office.

Or so I say.

The thing is, after more than three months of playing Queen consort, I’ve grown accustomed to spending my mornings and evenings working in the forest. I’ve completely accepted that my fingernails will always have dirt beneath them. I’ve forgotten what color my feet are under the dye of red earth. And I like that.

So while I may retire from the work and writing this, I may not. Consider this a warning.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

fancy pants

The thing about living with two gay guys is one must always be fashionable. I am not fashionable. I don’t mind that my clothes have stains, because they’re just going to get dirtier anyways.

I have one particular pair of pants that the boys hate because they’re white with red earth stains splotted to the knees. I call them my rain pants, because I wear them when driving through mud puddles that add more patches to the pattern. The boys call them disgusting.

Today I wore my rain pants as I went out to fetch idlis and croissants for breakfast. Upon my return, the boys took more than the food from me—they robbed me of my trousers. And before I could adequately cope, they dyed them in a bucket of red earth.

Suddenly my white pants with red stains are now entirely red, my rain pants can no longer get wet, and I look quite fashionable wearing them around Auroville.

The power of the fashion kings.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Lumière's version of the Wolf, the Sheep, and the Cabbage

It’s a logic problem; I’m sure of it. It’s like the wolf, the sheep, and the cabbage who need to cross the river but the canoe can take only two at a time, and the wolf eats sheep, and the sheep eats cabbage. What to do?

Except instead of a wolf, a sheep, and a cabbage, we have three batches of baby chickens.


The first are the beloved Lumière chickens, birthed in June and raised happily all summer. Ok, so one got picked off by a mongoose (Mamma Cas) and the other a dog (Beatrice)… but we are still have two growing chicks (Thelma and Louise) to be terribly proud of. And they have one protective mother.

Then we have a batch of 10 chicks died in paint that were given to me as a get well gift. One was eaten by the cat and another trampled or pecked to death, but the rest remain. They have no one to protect them.

And most recently we’ve added four gorgeous Grace babes, that have the awkward situation of two mother hens.


For housing, we have a hen house that’s loosely divided by a bamboo mat, and a bucket with a basket.

We started with the two mammas and the Grace babes in the basket, but the Thelma and Louise’s mother kept pecking the unprotected colored chics to death. Literally.

So we moved the Grace chicks to the hen house and put the colored chics in the basket, but the two moms are pecking each other blind.

And Thelma and Louise are simply way to big for a basket.


Anyone particularly talented in solving puzzles?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Forest vs. Farm

All summer people have mistakenly called Lumiere a farm. "It's NOT a farm," I correct them. "It's a forest." We just happened to chase cows and listen to cocks all night.

But today I took a moment to consider all the changes that occurred since my arrival in June--on the animal front alone. At this moment we have:
  • Four puppies
  • Thirty chickens
  • One cat
  • Two ducks
  • Cow invaders
  • Three residents
  • Two workers
  • Tons of visitors
  • Plans for a baby goat, a piglet, and who knows what else
  • A garden ready for real growth
  • Trees with so many fruits we're figuring out where/whether to sell or give the excess
Maybe--just MAYBE--it's time to start calling Lumiere a forest farm.

Beautiful Additions

Their voices were hurried with excitement when they called for me. “Catherine!” they shouted, like two giddy schoolboys. “Catherine, the eggs are hatching!”

Sure enough, tiny slimy beasts were emerging from beneath the two hens guarding the eggs from Grace. As of 1:27pm, we have four new additions to the forest farm… They are surely darker and different than the previous batch of hatchlings; will they grow up to have rainbows in their wings?

Welcome to the world, Grace chics!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book 6 - The Book of Kin


You are about to meet the author's son—raised naturally in the forest by his mother, Anastasia. Rest assured, you have never met a five-year-old like this! This young boy's profound intelligence forces Megré to take a totally fresh look at education, science, and history and… well… just about everything.
In The Book of Kin, Anastasia will lead you on a shocking rediscovery of pages of humanity's history that have been distorted or kept secret for thousands of years. She sheds new light on the causes of war, oppression and violence in the modern world, and guides us toward preserving the wisdom of our ancestors, so that we may pass it on to future generations.
Series translator, John Woodsworth, became so excited when he read the original text of this book, he began working on it day and night. Dr Leonid Sharashkin, the Series editor, said, "It's hard to believe that a human being could have written this book."
Deeply touching, beautifully heart-warming, and utterly life confirming, this book is another sparkling gem in the brilliant Ringing Cedars Series.
The Universe itself is a thought, a thought from which was born a dream, which is partially visible as matter. … You are infinite, you are eternal, within you are your dreams of creation.— Anastasia

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

For the love of Trash

Lumière, a Greenbelt forest, strives to be as eco-friendly as possible. That said, we still make waste. Earlier this summer we had the trash removed, and since then, we’ve vowed to be better at managing our garbage. Thus, we’ve started sorting everything into clear categories: Paper, Plastic, Metal, Glass and Everything Else. Trouble is, we’ve only got two barrels for five categories of goods.

We’ve been gathering the trash according to the categories but leaving them fairly open and exposed in piles where garbage cans would eventually go. The challenge was getting garbage bins from Pondi to Lumière.

Today, however, seemed the perfect opportunity to settle the matter. We left Pondi with a light shopping load, unlike most other days. We were four people on two bikes, leaving enough free hands carry the bins. So we stopped and purchased three blue barrels of exactly the right size.

Four free hands doesn’t mean it’s easy to take three giant trash bins home, especially when the bins are covered in god-knows-what and the road to be traveled is the ECR. Somehow, we managed:




We seriously have way too much fun.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Intruders & Defenders

I love our animals.


These days the boys sleep in the capsule. It’s got electricity and decorations and is truly a fine place to be. But it’s also damn exposed to the wilderness.

This morning, Gopal was barking. Gopal barks a lot. As usual—as in every morning—Muthu nudged the dog gently and told him to shut up. But this was no usual morning.

Meanwhile, the cat—who has taken to dwelling on the capsule roof—was particularly active. Biscotti too received a scolding.

So the animals descended but didn’t leave the boys in peace. Gopal kept barking barking barking, and began to growl and whine. Biscotti started hissing. Sleepy as they were, the boys realized there was something out there.

Slowly Muthu emerged from the mosquito net. What could it be? He rubbed his weary eyes and looked over the capsule’s rail…

There stood a cobra, huge and angry, aimed at the capsule but cut off by the dog and the cat. His hood was the size of two hands pressed together; its body thick as a man’s forearm. Big as was, side by side our Lumière guards kept the snake at bay.

Only when Muthu came down and started moving did the cobra finally leave, slithering off into the woods from which he emerged.

But because of Biscotti and Gopal, the boys didn’t awake to a surprise, no chickens were lost, and Julie nor I died of a heart attack upon leaving the house to make tea in the morning.

wind generator

An exercise ball which i borrowed from aurovici to help Perumal get back to shape was lost.
As i borrowed it i figured it was my chance to return it to him. They had a size that was right for me and the one for him was out of stock.
Check another store..which i did today. On entering Canadian Tire, to my right was a wind generator, the same one i have been looking and wanting for several years! yes, right there staring down at me..wow!
You get what you want. right?
i mean it is not yet in my possession but now atleast i know how much it costs and where it is available.
Being alternative and having sufficient winds on the land that tops it..would be perfect in the rainy season when the solar panels have less sun the wind generator would do the job!
so excited, i wish i had the money to get it right now on my return to Auroville, would be a great gift for the land!
i like how the universe works! thank you

Monday, August 24, 2009

RIP, Baby Chick

I’m sorry to report that after only three days in the great wide open, we’re down to three baby chics.

Her life was too short. From the storeroom bin to a basket to a chicken coop, too much of her life was spent behind screened walls. Only recently did she get a true taste of Lumière—of the wind chimes fluttering in the breeze, of the red earth beneath her feet, of the endless nooks and crannies nature has placed for the rest of us to discover. But she was a good chic. She loved her mamma and tolerated being handled by us. She didn’t mind that the cat wanted to eat her and the dog particularly enjoyed chasing her mother (because when Gopal chases Mamma Hen, Mamma Hen’s husband chases him, and apparently he find that fun).

Sadly, before she could grow into her true potential, a mongoose snatched her from the safety of her loving home, leaving her sisters, mother and the rest of the Lumière community no choice but to mourn her death.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Of Spices & Hand Drills

You learn a lot living on a forest farm. Especially if the forest farm runs on alternative energy.

For example, I never knew how to build a spice rack. Now I know: Find people who know how to build spice racks, and convince them to come over and build it for you.

The twist comes when they ask for a power tool and you have to explain that there isn’t enough energy to run a power tool for a long time and to keep the fridge on, and frankly the fridge is more important than facilitating the spice-rack-creation-process. After all, we have a hand drill.

Of course, I said that before I tried the hand drill.

So, I learned another lesson: humility. Protected by a pillow and using every ounce of energy in my body, I tried and tried to drill sufficient holes in the cement wall with the hand drill. (Using it on the termite-ridden wood was much easier, to say the least.)


Then I learned that men are in fact stronger than women, as Bunty—who kindly volunteered to assist (ahem, I mean, to make) the spice rack—was able to drill a few more holes with relative ease. By “relative” I mean in comparison to me.


And then I learned that some things are worth wasting electricity on, for after Bunty and I spent and entire afternoon making and hanging one shelf, Muthu and Dean made and hung two more in approximately twenty minutes… and the fridge didn’t shut off.

At the end of the day the story’s still the same: I’m a proud owner of fancy new spice shelves. :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Chicks Day Out

It’s a proud day for parents when their babies make the first move out of their lives. Usually this happens on the first day of school. In the case of forest farm dwellers and their baby chickens, it happens when the chicks finally leave the coop.

Every morning I open the door to throw food in. Without fail, Mamma Hen flies at the opening with a fierce determination to free herself and her babies. Today, instead of fighting to restrain her, I simply left the door open.

But no one came out.

I walked away, waited. Nothing.

So I found Muthu.

Muthu knows more about living on land than I could ever hope to. Hell, he grew up here. I grew up in suburbia. He suggested we get into the coop and chase them out.

It was a ridiculous affair.
But the conclusion is the same: Our four baby chicks are free on the farm, roaming Lumière, exposed to the great wide open!


Natural farming

The good old days!
We thought that the green revolution was the solution. it helped for a moment..but with lots of side effects. no good!
Plenty inspiration from natural farming, Masanobu Fukuoka, food forestry, you name it..
some links:


Subhash Palekar


Monday, August 17, 2009

Book 5 - Who are we?

The Ringing Cedars Series is creating a wave of excitement that is sweeping the globe with positive, life-transforming messages of pure love energy from the beautiful Anastasia.
Filled with her profound practical wisdom and powerful creative imagery, Who Are We? reveals more of her remarkable dreams.

You will be stunned by Anastasia's vision of the future in which she exposes the extraordinary process by which all armaments—from nuclear missiles to handguns—will be removed from the planet in the days to come.

Anastasia paints images of exquisite beauty, abundance, peace and harmony—images which will fill you with renewed hope and inspire you to begin creating a very different life for yourself—one far better than anything you might have previously imagined.

Full of unexpected twists and turns, and with a surprise ending, Who Are We? will have you fully engaged from the very first word.

And if you, my dearest, should find yourself scattered
across the unfathomable Universe as little specks of dust,
still refusing to believe, then from these specks of dust wandering through eternity I shall begin to gather you up.

— Anastasia

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Attacked!

Picture your most intimidating horror movie. This may have been a scene from it.

There we were, driving home on the motorcycle from a nice dinner at a friend’s house. The paths through the forest a thick with dust, a red earth maze that takes us home. It’s dark in that forest; only the stars above and the headlamp light the way. We were weaving around corners, taking in the scent of the trees, when—whoosh!—a bug bounced of the light. Then—bang!—another. And another and another.

“What are they?!” Monica shouted in fear.

“I don’t know!” I hollered through the thickening cloud of wings that surrounded us. “Maybe moths?!” I was reminded of an X-Files episode where bugs ate people alive.

The fluttering of wings filled our ears and we closed our mouths and eyes in terror. Blackness, with nothing but bugs! Where’s the end of the cloud? How can we possibly continue driving like this?

Somehow, miraculously, we escaped the swarm and found our way home.

We were shell shocked but received warmly by Julie, who was making us all our last cup of tea for the day. She sat us down, stroked our wing-ridden hair, spoke softly to solicit the story from our frantic lips. But just as we started speaking, we noticed a flicker in the shadow. And another and another.

Wings and moth-like creatures had found us in the forest, and their numbers were multiplying faster than when we were on the bike.

What to do?!

We abandoned half-filled tea mugs on the table and sprinted inside. Within the safety of the cement walls, we figured we’d play cards until falling asleep.

The bugs had other ideas.

They flew into the screens, buzzing and fluttering about. Wings were everywhere. They covered every surface of the house trying desperately to find their way in.

We cut the lights.

They continued to plague the screens, but only a few dozen found there way inside.

Somehow, we all managed to fall asleep. And this is what we woke up to:






Friday, August 14, 2009

Co-Creation

If you've read Anastasia, The Ringing Cedars of Russia and The Space of Love, and you think you've "got it"… Book 4, Co-creation, will cause you to think again. In this book, Anastasia's pure energy vibrates at a much higher pitch. Co-creation is vast in its scope of vision and powerfully poetic. You will actually feel yourself changing as you read.

Through words and images that sing to your soul, Anastasia deepens your understanding and raises your sights to a whole new level. This is the story of creation as you have never heard it told.

Now—as Anastasia reveals the Divine blueprint—we see that we are truly masters of our own destiny and that our choices affect not only ourselves but also the entire Universe. Full of astonishing revelations, this book may just turn your world upside-down. Co-creation offers practical steps, grounded in ancient wisdom, which you can use today to create powerful positive change in your life and simultaneously guarantee the future happiness of all mankind.

I shall tell you about co-creation, Vladimir, and then everyone will be able to provide an answer to his own questions. Please listen carefully and write about the Creator's great co-creation. Listen and try to understand with all your Soul the aspirations of the Divine dream.

— Anastasia

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Because every life should have a fighting chance

I’m not much of a cat person. I prefer creatures that like me to those that use me for food and water. But Biscotti’s a nice cat. At least he cuddles.

I decided I like him around because he catches scorpions. So far, there’s no proof that he actually does catch scorpions… in fact, we were alerted to the latest scorpion invader by Gopal, who seemed to think it was a toy. (On a side note, Muthu then decided to catch the scorpion in a glass jar, and its now living in our kitchen. Yuck.) But Monica’s cat in Texas hunted scorpions, and that’s enough for me.

Unfortunately, cats apparently are indiscriminant hunters, and this morning Biscotti decided to attack a squirrel’s nest. It was a quiet affair; no particular noise stood out from the others as I walked Gopal through the Land. But as we neared the kitchen, the chirping grew louder and more desperate. Sitting proudly on the path was Biscotti with a baby squirrel in its mouth.

What to do but try to rescue it?

So suddenly we’re caring for a baby squirrel. How? By wrapping it in gauze and feeding it watered-down milk from a syringe. Chances of survival are slim… but it’s always good to hope.



We Are Family

There’s a lot of life on the Land these days. There’s the wildlife: jackals, mongeese (or mongooses?), birds all of all shapes and sizes and colors, and more varieties of lizards and frogs than I’ve ever seen. Then there’s the dog. Twelve chickens and ten eggs ready to hatch. A cat. And of course me, Monica, Muthu and Julie; and I’m getting a new puppy, Monica wants another cat, Muthu’s all about ducks, and Julie’s requested a black baby goat. Plus, all of us have friends who visit.

For the most part we all get alone. Sometimes the dog chases the chickens, and the cat constantly brings home dead lizards and other “presents.” And sometimes the dog plays with the cat, who responds by hissing and clawing.

Today the cat brought us a new friend. Granted, the cat wanted to eat the new friend, but when I heard the baby squirrel crying in the cat’s clutches, I had to intervene. The baby’s uninjured, but so young his eyes aren’t open. And none of us have the heart to end its life.

So with a newly purchased syringe and some watered-down milk, and we’re suddenly nursing a two-inch baby to life.

Survival rates are slim, but we’re optimistic.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fire & the Watchman

The Old Man was on holidays, and I was too busy to walk the Land daily. But this week he returned, and I found time. And this morning, we both discovered something tragic.

In the back corner of the forest, someone must have been roasting cashews and—woosh!—fire spread. The ground is charred black. The trees are dead. Their leaves are crispy golden brown.

I came to the kitchen and asked Muthu what to do. “What can you do?” he said. I sighed and consoled myself that fires are purging and breed better life.

The Old Man came back to the kitchen and almost cried. He cursed the fools that did this. He swore and sulked. He got angry with himself for being out, and angrier with the world for punishing the Land like this.

That’s what I realized that as much as I love Lumière, it’s the Tata's everything.

The Old Man is a remarkably spiritual person too. We returned from the Nadi readers without ever informing him that that’s where we were going, and he not only told us where we went, he guessed at our fortune. He recently did a puja for a woman who was infertile and now she’s three months pregnant. He’s often whisked away to work in the temples of villages near and far. He is something special.

When realizing his power, Muthu asked him why he works on the Land instead of in the temples—or at least why he doesn’t take Sundays off. “Because they [those responsible for Lumière] appreciate me, and they need me. And the Land needs me. So I stay, and I work.”

No wonder the fire broke his heart. Part of his baby’s hurting, and he wasn’t around to protect it.