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India - Sadhana Forest

Pondicherry, India

Just a spot holder telling everyone we're in the forest here by Auroville. Will fill in details later. We love y'all!!!

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on November 5, 2008 from Pondicherry, India
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged India, Auroville and Sadhana

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Home sweet home- for now

Pondicherry, India

We've been in India for two weeks now and Im just now getting around to writing a blog, guess Im not in any hurry since we are going to be here for so long. Then there's that limited electricity thing. Sadhana Forest uses only solar power, so our Internet and computer time can be pretty limited. If you don't hear a whole lot out of us during our stay here just know were not dying of the plague or kidnapped, though we might have been run off the road by one of these things...

Were still adjusting to life here but the past two weeks have been a blast. Weve planted a bunch of trees with the aid of several local school groups, gone to the beach, attended a yoga session, run amuk through Auroville, gone shopping in pondicherry, and risked our lives daily driving two-wheeled vehicles in India. Great Fun!

Im totally getting a moped when we get home, those things rock. And if I can drive one and not kill myself in India I should be OK in Austin.

A bit about our home away from home...

Sadhana is a totally vegan (No animal at all, no processed foods, no refined sugars) community run by a super dedicated couple who have committed their lives and life savings to saving Indias teeny tiny bit of remaining tropical dry evergreen forest. There are 25 or so volunteers here, from more countries then I care to think of at the moment, and that number will swell dramatically in the next few months as we head into the busy season.

We sleep under a mosquito net in a huge hut made of pine, bamboo, and woven palm leaves, fall asleep to jackals, and wake up to Christine strumming the guitar and cooing goodmorning-goodmorning at 5:45. If you put Giligans Island, Swiss Family Robinson, Camp Anawana, and PETA all into a centrifuge, you'd end up with something like the essence of Sadhana.

I need to go help cook dinner so this is all for now, but sometime in the near future I hope to have more written.

Love yall!

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on November 18, 2008 from Pondicherry, India
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged India, Auroville and SadhanaForest

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Who needs turkey when you have Cyclones?

Pondicherry, India

To see all the Sadhana and India pictures click on the photos link and scroll to the tags at the bottom of the page.

Wow, what an interesting couple of weeks it has been since I last wrote a blog. Let me first say, No we are not in the part of the country where the attacks have been happening. We are however in the part of the country that has been buffeted by a cyclone, but more on that later.

Over the past few weeks we had been trying to settle into life at Sadhana Forest and making new friends. The volunteers at Sadhana are a special breed of people, really the best of our species. Im sure we will see some again after weve left Sadhana, and are possibly going to travel India a bit in the company some really cool people weve meet there.

A couple more school groups have come to the forest and watching the kids enthusiasm for replanting their native forests, and life at Sadhana in general, is rather exciting. It's good to know that at least this part of India's youth will have a deeper respect for their natural environment.

I've learned to drive a moped, on dirt jungle roads and the chaotic main roads of India, which only gets more interesting when its been raining balls. Im pretty confident I'll be able to drive a moped around Austin now ; )

I think I can safely say James and I will never be vegan. Its amazing how clearly your body lets you know its not getting the nutrients and vitamins its used too. Even after eating a big lunch at Sadhana we'd find ourselvs still wanting to eat. Not hungry mind you, just craving more, our bodies way of trying to get what it was missing.

Thanks to those cravings though we've found a couple really nice places to eat around Auroville and nearby Pondicherry. The terrace above the Solar Kitchen has killer cappuccinos and lattes, not to mention the chocolate banana crêpes. Out on the main road, between Auroville proper and Sadhana Forest is a hole in the wall local place that serves some really tasty stuff on banana leaves. I think one of the things they serve are dosas(?) but i really have no clue what we ate there :P I have found a replacement for garlic bread, and I must find a good Indian restaurant when we get home to fufil my naan cravings.

The first week or two of our stay was desperately dry, the monsoon being a month late. Baby trees were dying and the volunteers had to work that much harder to keep them watered and get then in the ground as quick as possible. The past week however, weve had the blessing or curse of a cyclone settling in over the area. A cyclone here is a bit like a tropical depression in the states but it lasts a lot longer. The first day or two of the cyclone we just had a lot of rain, which we happily watched filling up all the rain water catchment areas around Sadhana. We started to get a little concerned when one of the bunds in camp started spilling over into the next, the last one before the bathrooms, little did we know what the storm still had in store for us. The next morning the wind started, and by this time the ground was so saturated that the trees started toppiling like dominos. While in the kitchen making breakfeast we saw the first one starting to go and within five or ten minutes another ten or so trees around the compound had also fallen over or broken.

The intense wind and rain kept up all day, blowing in all the windows around our beds. Everything by this time was damp and starting to smell. Our beds felt horrid and between the wet sheets and the hut swaying all night I got no sleep the next evening. The following morning due to the cyclone and some other issues that I wont go into on a public blog, we made the call to leave.

Cristoff, Jess, James, Myself, and Anna and her kids all left that morning and came into Auroville to stay at the Aspiration guest house. We haven't regretted our decision yet and thankfully were able to dry out our stuff quite a bit yesterday. Only a few items have been lots to the mildew now. Today is the second day since we left Sadhana and the cyclone has finally worn its self out and save for a few light showers seems to be over. There are trees down everywhere, and power is still out but the storm is over and everwhere you look locals are clearing the trees and working to restore power. This blog is being posted courtesy of the generator outside the Internet point :P

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on November 29, 2008 from Pondicherry, India
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged India, Auroville and SadhanaForest

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Fun in Auroville

Pondicherry, India

After leaving Sadhana Forest we took a few days to settle into our new digs at the Aspiration community guest house.

The huts are a pretty cool design. Two 'bedrooms' connected by a hall, off of which is the bathroom. The huts are squat though inside there is plenty of room to stand and the hall is half sunken in the ground, very well suited to cyclones :P.

Its a wonderful arrangement for friends travelling together. Even the local dogs love the huts.

Tuesday we went for the introductory tour and short meditation inside the Matramindir, and all I can say is wow. Setting aside for the moment the whole premise behind the Matramindir, spiritual attunement and furthering human evolution through the development of our consciousness, I have to drool over the sheer architectural genius of this thing. I'm not so in love with the outside of the building, but the inside makes me want to spurn all the rules and screw the peace of the other meditators by taking in my obnoxiously large camera and snapping photos of every graceful spiral and pristine white marble curve in this place.

Since I can't, I'll try to make do with words.

To enter the Matramindir you first walk past the Banyan Tree and through the Gardens of Unity to approach the Mat by passing in between two of the 'petals' (which are also separate meditation chambers each with a theme and fitting colour) to descend a stone walkway to the base of the Mat. Directly under the Mat, which is suspended on the sides by four concrete 'feet', you see the lotus pond; a series of white marble scoops or medallions that descend inward becoming smaller and smaller until they end at a crystal globe directly under the Mat. The water flowing over the marbel scoops provides a musical backdrop to your approach. To actually enter the Mat you have to ascend a staircase leading into the spheres bottom. Once entered there is a circular hall running around in the inside of the base where you sit on white marble benches on white marble floors to put on your white socks. Around the inside of the hall, is a glass floor so you can peer directly into the lotus pond beneath. Once you have your booties on you pass through a door on the interior of the hall, immediately to your left is a small sculpture and to your right is a circular stair leading up, made of guess what....white marble. Ascending the stairs, the room opens up dramatically. The walls are covered with triangular panels which emit a faint golden red glow. The walls are quartered by four golden tiled bands running the vertical length of the room. In the centre of the room are two stairways spiralling down around eachother (the stair you just walked up being one), mirrored by two floating ramps, spiralling along the outer perimeter of the chamber up into the meditation chamber which is in the highest point of the Matrimindir. The ramps are carpeted with plush white carpet and are fairly steep, making the climb to the upper chamber a slight physical exertion. At the top of the ramps is a foyer of sorts leading into the meditation chamber. Thankfully, there are pictures of the inner chamber :P Go google matramindir and look for the big crystal globe.

We've been to the Mat a few times now, and one of the petal rooms, and not being in the practice of meditating regularly its been an interesting experience for sure.

Aside from going to the Mat, we've been mainly tooling about Auroville and visiting nearby Pondicherry.

We certainly have to get our fill of the place, because we're leaving Tuesday!!!

Tuesday we will be heading to Chennai to board a short flight to Pune India in the company of Jess and Cristoph.

From Pune it's anyones guess :D

permalink written by  Slade's Elucidation on December 6, 2008 from Pondicherry, India
from the travel blog: Slade's Elucidation
tagged India, Pondicherry and Auroville

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