Monday, September 14, 2009

2009 09 14. Monday.

Yesterday after the compost work one of the yellow robed brahmacharis (yerbs) asked me to go with him and Peter on a field trip some nearby organic farm where they also do worm composting. At first I resisted cause if Peter was going he could see things and tell me about it as needed. I've got lots of research I need to do for the compost project and some other eco projects. But the yerb politely insisted I go. What to do? The yerbs (and especially the ocher robed swamis (orbs) ) have a lot of seniority and the tradition here is you follow their directions. As a westerner, I could easily refuse and he couldn't do anything about it. But its good practice for me to put aside my own desires an do what they say. The yerbs definitely respect the westerners and are (usually) more easy-going with us than with lower seniority Indians. In the Indian culture there is a strong tradition of honoring and venerating yerbs and orbs. But the yerbs know westerners don't come from those traditions.

So at 8am this morning, 2 of the yerbs who help at the compost area, Peter, I and 3 others piled into a minivan and drove over to the farm. It was deep into the back country of Kerala about 40 minutes from the ashram. The yerbs started the trip by leading everyone in chanting the 108 names of Amma. Its the end of the rainy season here and the Kerala country side is amazingly lush and green. Quite beautiful. And a lot less trash then in the more populated areas.

The farm we visited is all organic and the farmer has won some government awards for his work. I think he gets the awards cause the government wants to get people interested in organic farming. Chemical farming is killing (has killed) the soil and the local environments here, and is bankrupting their future. He was very happy to show off his farm and tell us all the tricks and techniques he's learned over the years. In one field was some leftover large yellow skinned cucumbers. The farmer cut us all a large slice. Really delicious! And slightly sweet. He gave us some to take back to the ashram.

Then we all piled back into the minivan and went to a nearby Kerala government agricultural research center. It was all behind a perimeter fence and was quite beautiful. Mainly because there was no trash around. It always stands out as unusual to be some place in India where there's no trash laying around. One of the researchers showed us some of their work in worm composting, mushroom cultivation and other things. For some reason one of the yerbs with us was very keen on mushroom cultivation and asked Peter a few times to explore getting it started at the ashram.

Then we piled back into the van and the yerbs brought out their stash of snacks. While driving back we stuffed ourselves on various kinds of rice crackers and sweet cakes, and discussed what kinds of eco-projects the ashram could do next.

At the end I determined I definitely wasn't needed on the trip. My time could have been better spent doing other research for the compost project. But the yerbs seemed happy I was there.

Toward the end of today's darshan, we all saw Amma get 3 pada pujas in a row. That's were some people wash Amma's feet, drape Her with jewelry and garlands and feed Her. They had a video camera right up close and were showing it on the big screens around the hall. I'm not sure but I'm guessing the Amma pada puja is a fund raising option where wealthy people make a large donation for the privilege of doing it.

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