I lied. I said I was going to India.
I said I was going to India to plant trees and spend time in a cult called Auroville.
As it turns out… We only plant in the monsoon season, we in a hippie ecovillage called Sadhana Forest are way too diverse in belief to be any kind of cult, and we are tucked away in the wilderness far from Auroville. But I am in India, I didn’t lie about that!
We mulch, we sing, we cook, we dig, we garden, we clean, we laugh, we explore, we do our own thing. We eat delicious vegan meals together, we compost our leftover food and our leftover poop, we use a computer run on solar energy, we live in huts made of bamboo and coconut hair rope, we spend time with people from our homes and from homes far away. My newest friends are Australian, Israeli, South African, British, Spanish, Irish, Indian, Danish, French, Argentinian, Finnish, and Belgian.
I am doing my very best to soak it all up… I really had no idea what to expect here. I expected India, which I’ve only caught glimpses of so far. These last three weeks, which seem to have gone SO much faster than three weeks, have been spent in a place nestled in the midst of India in all its craziness. I’ve caught glimpses – in the Chennai airport; in food/cigarette/cell phone recharge/toilet paper/toothpaste anything you can think of to buy shops by the side of the road; in local Tali restaurants; in my friends Mohan and Praesh from the village Morattandi; in advertisements; in chai and chai and more chai; in the lack of sight and lack of hands on beggars by the side of the road; in the multitude of goats and cows that roam the streets and bravely face any motorbike futilely wanting to pass; in the mix of tourist trap and local economy; in a visit to see the Hugging Mother Amma and partake in a sacred Indian ritual that draws a pushing, shoving, jostling, noisy, sweaty, love-seeking crowd for one single five-second hug from Amma; in images of Hindu gods all over the place, gracing the presence of anything they will stick to or be drawn upon; in Westerners who come to India seeking a spiritual presence that they can’t feel elsewhere.
There is a presence here. I can’t put my finger on it yet, but it’s unlike anything in the West.
I am terrifically nervous, and excited, and frightened beyond belief to explore this country… I have two more wonderful weeks in Sadhana Forest to soak up, and then it’s off to Kolkata. Three weeks on the road, seeking out bargain hotels, cheap restaurants, and the many hearts of India.
Thank you, to all of you who send your love this way and remind me of why I love my home so much.
I always grew up thinking I was somebody who detested the thought of home… so boring, so stable, so familar. But now I realize that being away from my home makes me yearn for it… and very ready to embrace it on March 4.
So. Sorry for lying, but what I did not expect has turned out to be amazing!