Thursday, June 11, 2009

2009 06 11. Thursday.

2009 06 11. Thursday.

Another long time resident here who's a good role model is Murtena. He's a very nice calm and steady French guy who helps out with the recycling and does lots of projects around the ashram. He has a quick smile and is always gentle and easygoing. I got to know him a little bit the first time I was here, and now we're working together some mornings in the recycling area. I'd like to emulate his always calm and cool demeanor. He's been here a long time. About 10 years I think. Today when Murtena and I were pulling the trash cart back from the furnace there was a truck in the way of some garbage cans we normally get on the way back. Murtena just kept going. I asked him if we should check those bins. He said "No, I think they're OK."

I replied "You sure? I'm learning from you."

Murtena smiled. "Can't I also teach you some bad things?"

I smiled back. "I already know all the bad things!"

At the compost this afternoon Pete Ash (his real name) showed up. He's the American organic farmer who started the whole compost project about 2 months ago. Pete saw the food waste being thrown away each day and proposed that composting it would be a way for the ashram to live up to Amma's frequent teachings about being in harmony with the earth. Pete was taking a bunch of photos of the composting process for the ashram website and a future documentary. I ask Pete if he could talk about how to make a proper compost pile and he was more than happy to oblige. So for the next 1.5 hours while we were layering and building the compost pile, Pete gave a pretty much non-stop running monologue about how to build a good pile. It was great. I learned a lot and he was happy to answer questions. For fun I called him "Pete the Compost King!" He laughed and said he's been called worse. At one point Pete was sharing some in depth details and I stopped to listen. After a few minutes Sonia said "Would it be OK to talk a little later? There's a lot to do now." Sonia is definitely a no-nonsense very hard and smart worker. That's great, but she can get slightly uptight, IMHO. No big deal. I can get even more uptight.

Pete was really cool at chai time. If the pile is not done by chai time, I'll feel a little guilty when I sneak off to go get my chai. At 3:55pm, when I told Pete I was going to get my chai, he said "Great! Let me join you." The two ladies still working hard gave us a little look when we trooped off with a lot of work still to be done. But I felt OK cause Pete was the boss in charge. "Hey ladies! Complain to him." We grabbed our chai and came back and worked till about 4:45pm. I was really exhausted at the end. Those piles require a lot of pretty hard physical work. I finished off the pile with the last layer of wood chips. Another one done! No one was around so I grabbed the artificial flower garland from yesterday's pile, held it and said the traditional Hindu food prayer, blessing all the worms and bacteria. "Bon appetit, little guys!". Then I neatly laid the garland on top. I then drank most of my bottle of electrolyte water. Man, that really tasted good! I was really sweating.

I now definitely know the rudimentary basics of compost pile theory and practice. I'm sure there's a lot more to know, but the basics are pretty simple.

I got back to my room, took a shower and then gave my room a much needed sweeping. Felt good! I'm really enjoying the feeling of keeping my room somewhat neat and tidy. My little victory over the pervasive trashiness of India. With a few exceptions, the ashram is kept pretty neat, clean and tidy. Unlike the rest of India which, in general, looks like a big trash heap, with some exceptions. Then a quick nap and off to evening stotram and bhajans.

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