- 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."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shiny Love

Saedi is a great watchdog. She’s so great that she barks at everything… wandering cows, bags of coconut husk, the elephant statues we put in the garden… So great, in fact, that sometimes we tune her out.

Yesterday she was barking so long and enthusiastically that she lost her little (big) doggie bark. I came out when I realized how passionate she was about whatever object she chose to defend the house against this time. But as I followed her voice, I realized she had actually found something she really considered a threat.

I couldn’t see it at first. She was furiously growling at…the ground. But as I neared her position, I saw something shimmer in the setting sun. Something big. Something slimy. Something slithering. It was the largest damn rat snake I’ve ever seen. (Even at Croc Bank!)

Today I came home to that same furious bark and thought immediately it might be the Slithering Giant. I quietly grabbed my camera and followed her bark to what she had found.

My heart stopped. It was a snake—It wasn’t the big one, but it was sitting up…like a cobra ready to attack!

I screamed for her to get back. She listened. But it wasn’t a cobra… It wasn’t just one snake… It was: snake sex.

I filmed it anyways.

There’s actually something beautiful, captivating, and—dare I say it?—romantic about snakes mating. They’re so intertwined with each other and so focused on each other that they don’t even seem to notice the barking dog(s) and gawking human that may stand a foot or so from their love-making site. I was so touched I had to give them privacy…even if Saedi kept barking away.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

"Work" at Lumiere

“This will sound silly,” I admitted to my friend and Hindi translator, who was relaying my words to Naveen, our new watchman. “Ask him to pretend that this forest is incredibly special, unique, precious. Pretend that this Land is so special he should protect it and its trees with his heart and soul. It may sound ridiculous, but we think it is that special, and we think everyone else who lives here should too.”

The negotiations were to get Naveen to start sleeping on the Land. We were so desperate to have a presence here in the winter that we grabbed him with little training or requests. Now that things are quieting down a bit again, we want to make sure he’s happy with the job. Because this work shouldn’t feel like work; we want him to live here and love it. (Is that so much to ask?) ;)

So what does the work entail anyways? Here’s the gist:
  1. Protect the trees (chase cows, build little fences around saplings that are being eaten, prune parasites, prevent cutting, etc etc)

  2. Create an environment in which Nature can flourish (fix holes in the fences to keep the cows out, water thirsty saplings throughout the forest, pick up any litter that blows onto the Land, protect and feed the nursery)

  3. Guard the Land (greet any and all “visitors” so they know there’s a presence, walk the Land, watch for fires or other situations that indicate external intervention, keep an eye on fallen trees or other opportunities for people to come and take advantage of the Land)
And of course there’s the steward himself who handles all the real situations, manages all the work, knows every plant inside out, and helps each tree grow and live to its maximum potential. The rest of us are the support team, but we all do our part.

Hell, even the dogs take the work seriously—they cows (maybe it’s just instincts and training)… they 2.pick up litter (ok, maybe it’s just to play with it)… and they 3. greet every visitor with--enthusiasm?--(even the guests we don't want to scare away)…

Friday, February 19, 2010

Just another funny day at the farm…

Is it full moon?

The animals are acting crazy.

First thing in the morning, a paradise fly-catcher (beautiful bird!) was playing in the fountain. Never have I seen this type of bird anywhere near the water… Why start now?

In the late afternoon when the cows came for their last drink, I was in the kitchen and heard a “thunk” followed by a splash. One of the calves had fallen into the fountain. Funny to see the big awkward animal amongst the sunflowers, scrambling to climb back over the wall!

And as I was cleaning the kitchen before making dinner, I noticed perched behind the trash cans a single, organic egg. One of the hens has decided to sneak in through the window and make the garbage her nest.

What is wrong with the creatures?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Broken bike? Not until it don't start at all...

Here at Lumière we make the best of things. Most of our pots don’t have handles, none of our plates match, our furniture is 90% hand-me-downs. But that’s how we like it.

Now that Palani is back with us for a few weeks, he too is playing the “as long as it functions it don’t need fixing” game. So when the motorcycle’s kick start fell off… well, the boys found a new way to start it:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Pet Chickens

We would never eat our chickens. They come greet us in the morning, they follow us on our daily walks, and they look longingly at us for food all the time. They are pets, not produce. (But we will happily eat their eggs…)

Our dear friend Monica takes chicken-loving to the next level. A lover of all things feathered, we call her the bird whisperer. Today she proved the name fits...

Yep, that’s Monica petting the chickens…

If only they’d be so friendly with their master…

…at least the dogs will eat from his hand?

Friday, February 12, 2010


Here at Lumière we’re always finding creative ways to merge knowledge from multiple fields. It’s in the steward’s nature. Not only is Martanda a forester, but he is a student of massage and healing, and someday dreams of becoming a watsu practitioner. Maybe someday he can practice this water-art in the serenity of the Land. Maybe someday he’ll be able to merge Earth and Water.

But in the meantime, he finds other ways to merge both his occupations. Today it was Dogsu, or Tansu on Dogs.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Why Greenbelt?

I re-discovered this document, given to me by a dear friend months ago, and thought it a perfect introduction to the “Greenbelt.” A little out-dated (10 years), it shares the history, mission, vision, and importance of the forest surrounding Auroville. In short, “The Green Belt will be an extensively planted zone surrounding the City area, sustaining healthy growth of natural life for the entire area.”

It’s “functions” are to:
  • Be the `lungs’ of Auroville by creating oxygen and filtering airborne pollution.

  • Attract wildlife back by providing habitats and ecosystems for natural life cycles, combining all kinds of birds, animals, insects and trees; and by creating genetic “corridors”/uninterrupted areas for passage of pollen, seeds and wildlife.

  • Teach and learn by offering environmental education and creating sites for research and training on wasteland reclamation, medicinal plants, watershed management, groundwater recharge, soil conservation, organic agriculture, integrated pest management, biodiversity, and various reforestation techniques.

  • Produce food by emerging as the basis for food production, housing farms, dairies, orchards, and agroforestry by-products.

  • Leverage scarce rainfall by reducing water run-off, enhancing soil moisture, increasing
    rain percolation, and exploring watershed management and groundwater recharge.

  • Improve the climate by providing shade, influencing the temperature, and reducing reflective heat and light radiation.

  • Provide timber, fuel and fodder, as it is a forest after all.

  • Offer tranquillity to the city-dwellers of Auroville, as the forest is naturally of scenic beauty and quiet, and the Green Belt should have promenade opportunities and natural vistas, which are of essential value to an urban population.
For us at Lumière, we resonate with many of the above-listed goals…but in the document, we find another piece that almost captures our inspiration:
The true value of the Green Belt is in re-establishing the relationship between man and nature, one that is in balance.
You can read the whole document here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mooncup, Keeper, Diva Cup, etc.

Mooncup was our beloved cat, and we call our crow guardian Keeper. But these are more than names of pets, they are life-changing products.

These are all brands of vaginal cups used to collect blood during a woman’s menstruation cycles. They’re made from medical-grade silicon-like materials that ensure against infections or allergies. They’re roughly the size of a small shot glass and flexible enough that the woman inserts the cup (lower than a tampon) and lets it catch the blood—not absorb it—throughout the day. Every so often (ideally 8 hours max), the woman quietly goes to the toilet and empties the contents, which spill neatly into the toilet bowl. She then rinses the cup and reinserts. It’s up to personal preference, but most women boil the cup to sterilize it just before and after each cycle. Voila.

For some, this will sound gross, but I can tell you it’s honestly amazing. While there are a million reasons to switch, I’ll list out a few below… because the Mooncup really is healthier and more convenient, comfortable, affordable, and environmentally friendly than using tampons or pads.
  • It’s healthier: This is really what switched me… Have you ever dipped a tampon into a glass of water? It expands, right? Ha. ha. ha. Funny, interesting, whatever to see. But have you ever bothered to look closely at the water after dipping the tampon in? It will be full of tiny cotton fibers shed from the tampon. This debris stays in your vaginal walls for ages, and it can cause lacerations, infections, and god-knows what else. With the Mooncup, you know you’re safe.

  • It’s convenient & comfortable: Ever run out of tampons in the middle of your cycle? It’s a pain, right? With the Mooncup, you never have to worry. Just one item to last you (almost) your lifetime. Plus, it’s incredibly comfortable for travel or swimming, and can stay in longer than pads or tampons.

  • You save money: Tampons or pads cost at minimum $4 per month, right? With the Mooncup, which lasts AT LEAST 10 years, you will save $445. Incredible!

  • It’s eco-friendly: Tampons, pads, and other sanitary waste are among the few household items that cannot be sorted or properly recycled. In the U.S. alone, there are over 85 million women of menstruating age contributing over twelve billion pads and 7 million tampons to landfill each year. Are you one of them?
So switch to Mooncups today!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Welcome to My Life

I come from a different world. There’s no denying it.

Sure, I always wanted to live a barefoot life. I never liked make up and I always got dirty…and stayed dirty. But I lived in a proper American suburb with nice things and reliable electricity, and I took the train to work every day in my chic dresses or fancy suits. “Working with my hands” meant typing press releases or writing op-eds. “Eating fresh fruits and vegetables” meant a trip to Au Bon Pain or Cosi. “Communicating with nature” was cursing at the Boston wind tunnels for ruining yet another umbrella.

And now here I am, living a “Greenbelt” life. But what does that even mean?

It’s not like we live in an open-air house with no plumbing. We have hot showers. We have a washing machine and a fridge. We have ceiling fans for when it’s too hot or there are too many bugs. We have “current”/electricity even when the rest of the town suffers from India’s too-frequent power cuts. Ok, so it’s all on solar, but that’s never been a problem before. Sometimes we have to be careful, particularly during the monsoon, but life is what is it is…and—in terms of creature-comforts—it’s not that different than the suburbs.

My family from France visited, and all their questions were focused on what it’s like living on the Land, living as “green” as possible. I tried to explain it there and then, but I realized it’s something that has to come out slowly, over time. It’s everything, from electricity to waste to health to cleaning to communications to spirituality to whatever else you can think of. So I’m committing myself once again to write regularly… on eco-friendly living in this particular forest in this peculiar community in this particular southeast corner of India.

My editor has already delivered my first assignment: The Mooncup. (Ironically, he “sells” the idea of the mooncup a whole lot better than I do…and I’m the woman.)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Our black cat back to dust

  Ooph, don't know what to say.  Since some days we have noticed that our black male cat mooncup disappeared.
  This morning, Catherine smells something odd, we look around to find the source of stench.  Under the table outside where i work on my saplings in dire straits ('operation table') and germinate seeds; we find under mooncup curled up breatheless :(
  it has been easily 2 days!! not even the dogs noticed!! maybe we could have done something about it?
  The rains over, digging a hole is a task. With the help of water and tools we dug a hole for the mooncup..
  Farewell, lovely cat.  Our auspicious cat; you may return anytime even in ghost form!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Coming up soon the mooncup

  Women. You do use pads/tampons/etc. right for your menstruation?
  Well, an ecological, environment friendly and mainly healthier for you. The moon cup!
  i know, i know it is strange for a guy to speak about it. well, i am concerned, want to support and encourage you all! :) women power 2010
  So more on the moon cup shortly


  Wow, that has been a long time since we wrote something.
  Where have we been? what have we been? that is a good question! time goes so fast, so many things come and go..
  trying to keep with the flow all the time :)
  We planted more pepper that we collected from David, Aurodam.
  what is fun and a little stinky though is the bokashi compost collected from some individuals in Auroville; we put in a hole around our planted trees of this year. hoping the roots can feed into the enriched soil.
  Of course the dogs had to dig into it and the sweet stench spread all over :) worst is they come running to you smelling.phew