Published 12 March 2008
Bio , Food , India
Tags: agriculture, harvest, mud, paddy, Pondicherry, sesame, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, til, toes
Today was yet another pre-dawn morning. We accompanied the teenage students of the Sri Aurobindo International School to ashram-owned paddy lands, near Ousteri Lake on the Pondicherry – Tamil Nadu border, to harvest sesame (til).
For them, as for us, the outing was a way to experience the basic mechanics of agriculture – or at least one significant part of the process – and remind ourselves from where our food comes. It was also hard work and good fun.
Continue reading ‘Mud Between My Toes’
Published 26 February 2008
Bio , India , Religion, Spiritualism & Other Make-Believe , Service
Tags: Auroville, divine plan, garden, Matrimandir, nut grass, nutgrass, Pondicherry, Sri Aurobindo, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, The Mother, weeding
On Sunday, I rose at 6:00 am – not something to which I am accustomed – to board a bus for Auroville. Usually, I cycle to Auroville; but this morning I was in the company of members of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram who were making their bi-weekly visit to help in the landscaping of the gardens of the Matrimandir, the spectacular meditation hall which sits at the epicenter of the Auroville community.
I’m not big on gardening; nor am I a devotee of Sri Aurobindo – though I think the man was one astoundingly brilliant poet and a bad-ass philosopher, at least until things get so deep and twisted I can’t even pretend to follow. But the ashram and Auroville are nonetheless special to me as, between them, they house the large majority of the people I have come to love in my adopted home.
What better did I have to do on a beautiful Sunday morning than to assist in the building of a community I admire in the company friends I adore?
Continue reading ‘Divining the Divine Plan’
Published 30 April 2007
Bio , India , Tenzing , Travel & Adventure
Tags: autorickshaw, backwaters, Betsy Jacobs, Chennai, Chennai Central, Deepa Krishnan, elephant, India, Kerala, Kochi, Kochin, Kuruchikuppam, Madras, Madurai, Malgudi, Namaste, Pondicherry, Puru Kothari, sleeper bus, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Tamil, Tamil Nadu, Tenzing, Varalaxmi Krishnan
More than one friend has complained that I have neglected to report on Tenzing’s visit to South India at the end of March. I have been a bit busy. But better late than never.
Continue reading ‘Malgudi Days’
Published 25 February 2007
Bio , General Pablum
Tags: appendectomy, appendicitis, appendix, Dalai Lama, Delhi, forgiveness, guest is god, India, kindness, laparascopy, pain, revenge, spiritual poseurs, Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Say what you will about His Giggliness the Dalai Lama, but the lessons he has taught the world about the power of forgiveness are pretty significant.
I count myself in the camp, ugly as it may be, who draw a degree of strength from the art of the grudge. Somehow, I find both creativity and motivation from the self-righteous sense that someone has done me wrong, even as I understand that the energizing feelings it engenders are probably more-than-counterbalanced by the negativity of focus, and know that such enmity is hardly the thing I wish to be propagating in the world.
So, I work on forgiveness. The process is, perhaps, all-the-more interesting because it does not come easily to me. For that matter, it may not come that easily to anyone, even the Lamaisto Giganto himself. Forgiveness is a concept we throw around pretty easily. It is not difficult to utter the words of forgiveness; it is altogether a different proposition to work through the resentment and excise the satisfyingly ingenious, mouse-trap acts of revenge the mind cooks-up, to arrive at an attitude of true indifference to the slight.
Continue reading ‘Finding Forgiveness’
Published 22 January 2007
Friends , Service
Tags: Bookbox, Brij Kothari, cutting grass, Mouhsine Serrar, Planet Read, Pondicherry, Puducherry, Puru Kothari, Shuddham, Sri Aurobindo Ashram
When he was in school, Puru Kothari’s Hindi teacher once excoriated the class for failing to study hard enough, telling them that they were “only fit for jobs like cutting grass.” More than a decade latter, Puru ran into his old teacher, who inquired about Puru’s life. “I cut grass,” said Puru with a smile.
Continue reading ‘Cutting Grass’
Published 17 January 2007
Bio , India
Tags: Ashram Hindi, dispensary, feminine side, femininity, gender, gender roles, gender stereotype, hit by a bus, India, injury, Mark Jacobs, Masulinity, men are weak, pain, pain tolerance, Pondicherry, Puducherry, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Steel Magnolias, Yoo-Mi Lee
I’m glad to have grown up the lone male in a house of amazing women – my mother, sister and, for a short-but-significant while, two sister-like close friends. As a consequence, I am able to easily reject traditional notions of gender and have developed a strong sense of myself without leaning too heavily on the easy crutch of normative male privilege. More importantly, I am one of the few men who reflexively returns the toilet seat to the down position. No one has ever accused me of failing to “get in touch with my feminine side.”
Until last week, that is.
Continue reading ‘Getting in Touch with My Feminine Side’
Published 3 January 2007
Environment , India
Tags: Alang, Bangladesh, China, Chittagong, ecology, Environment, environmentalism, filth, Gadani Beach, garbage, greenpeace, Gujarat, India, Khambhat, litter, Pakistan, poison, pollution, pullution, Puru Kothari, rubbish, shipbreakers, shipbreaking, ships, solid waste, Sri Aurobindo Ashram, toxic, toxins, trash
Photo courtesy of Greenpeace International
We traveled to Alang, a stretch of beach on the Gulf of Khambhat in Gujarat, to witness first-hand what has been described as one of the “Seven Garbage Wonders of the World.” At the moment, there are 70 large ships beached like dead whales on the sands of Alang, where they are being dismantled for the reprocessing of their valuable steel. Shipbreaking is easy on neither the environment, nor the workers.
Continue reading ‘Alang: Shipbreaking, Salvage, and Environmental Issues’