Sunday, December 12, 2010

Travels part 3: Hamsah Farm!

shelling peanuts before breakfast 

 The night before we left Mysore, half our group got sick. A couple were still sick on the bus so we had to make some stops on the way. I was glad I wasn’t sick!  Finally, we reached Hamsah Farm, a small farm outside of Bangalore.  There we met John, a former Living Routes student from 2003.  He met his Indian wife when he was on the program and now lives here with her.  It was a really cool place.  
my capsule - the keet hut I shared with 2 other people
The night we got there, I went to a sufi music and poetry performance. Unfortunately I started feeling nauseous on the way there and got sick that night. It was not fun. The next couple of days I mostly slept and I didn’t really eat. Two other people were also still sick. Everybody else was helping make the roof to a hut that last semester’s group started. 
music festival
working on the roof!
Most of you probably know I’m a big Harry Potter fan, and Bangalore was the only place we were ever going to be close to that was playing the new movie. I was feeling better in the morning, so I decided to take the city bus with two other people to a very American mall to go see it. They checked our bags at the door and then again when we went into the actual theater area. They even made my friend give them her camera batteries! We sat in our assigned seats and felt just like we were in America! Until just after intermission, when I started feeling sick...again. I missed the last 10 minutes of the movie because I was squatting over the toilet, and the bus ride back wasn’t very enjoyable. I crashed again after we got back. It was still a fun day, and I’m glad I didn’t have to wait a month to see it!
the beds we prepped and planted
The fourth day we were there I was feeling tired, but better.  Most of the group went to another community for the day, but I decided not to ride in the bus for 2 hours each way and instead helped John prepare and plant beds. We also went to the market to get food for our Thanksgiving feast!

Thanksgiving day snack (we had more for dinner)
eating area and oven - and some veggies for Thanksgiving!
Our last day at the farm was Thanksgiving! About half the group spent the day finishing the roof, and the rest of us spent the day cooking.  We had found several pumpkins and baked them in their wood burning mud oven the day before, so they were ready to make things with! I made 3 pumpkin pies, a huge loaf of pumpkin bread, and a pumpkin apple crisp. We also made pumpkin soup, mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans with onions and garlic, a papaya coconut smoothie, and ragi bread with homemade peanut butter, rosella jam and pesto. We were all definitely Thanksgiving stuffed! We also did a gift circle in our group, which was nice. Thank goodness I had my appetite back!  One girl got sick today, and another on the way back. I think only 4 people out of 12 didn’t get sick!
my pies!
passing around plates in the newly finished capsule

The next morning we took a group picture and then headed back.  It was nice to be home! We were back at Youth Camp for 2 days and then went off to our community stays for 10 days!
The finished product!

More travels - Bylakuppe and Mysore!

We just got back from a 10 day community stay in Auroville (more on that later) where I didn’t have internet, but I’m finally writing more about our travels.
little monk!

monks debating
This is one of the largest Tibetan refugee settlements that India provided after China invaded Tibet. It was very educational.  We got to talk to some of the Buddhist monks at the monastery we were staying at about their philosophy and their life.  We also went to the Old Age Home.  Traditionally, the elderly in Tibet are taken care of by their families.  But these are people who escaped Tibet with the Dalai Lama and have no families.  Some of the students from the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) school came with us to help translate.  It was so sad but inspiring to hear their stories. We also got to go to the TCV school and talk to more students there.  Most of them are sent from Tibet by their parents, and they don’t know if they’ll ever see there families again. We stayed in Bylakuppe for two nights before driving to Mysore.
The Tibetan students that showed us around!
This was the only place we stayed in a normal hotel! We spent two nights here, and mostly had free time and explored on our own.  We did go to a temple on top of a hill that is famous somehow, but it was quick and we didn’t really know anything about it.  We also saw a large stone bull that belongs to the god Shiva, and went into the Mysore palace.  Mysore is known for its silk and sandalwood, so we did some shopping.  An auto-rickshaw driver also convinced us to let him take us to a spice market and essential oils and incense shop. It was fun, but I think we were all ready to be out of the city again by the time we left.  Not to mention, most of the group got food poisoning. Not fun.

spice market

6 people in a rickshaw meant for 3!

Mysore palace