Saturday, January 17, 2015

The charm of an organic farm

Oct 2013...
Around us the forest prepares itself for the night... the sun is slowly switched off, the surrounding noise dims and the tall trees sway in the cool breeze, murmuring their approval and the jhingurs start their lullaby for the night. And it is only 6:30 pm! Hard to believe that Bangalore is just an hour's drive away!

We are in Navadarshanam, an organic farm set up by an IIM professor near Gumalpura in Tamil Nadu. Our cottage is about 5 min walk away from the community dining hall. Large stone steps followed by a thin strip of clearing lead to it. From the front porch, as far as the eye can see, only trees and the jungle is visible on all sides. Another 20 acres and the Thally forest reserve stakes its claim. There is electricity here, generated by the farm for its internal use and enough to charge the visitors' mobiles. Our cottage has two bedrooms and a living room sporting an open kitchen. Sparsely furnished, it has beds, chairs and tables. There is water in a pitcher in one corner of the kitchen. Frankly speaking, I hadn't expected such luxury and was prepared to sleep on the floor keeping an eye on any suspicious snake activity around me!!! I'm pleased at my low expectations! :) We sit in the porch and close our eyes - what an ideal place to meditate!

Dinner is supposed to start by 7:15 pm. We reluctantly open our eyes, acquaint our eyes to the dusky forest silhouette and make our way to the community dining hall. It's a huge, welcoming kitchen and I'm happily transported back to my childhood in our joint family. We peep in through the glass windows, not wanting to disturb the two busy chefs. More people join us, exchange smiles and some pleasant introductions and we slowly troop into the kitchen. Food occupies centrestage for a while as we savour the freshly prepared millet, rice, roti and vegetables. Sambhar and rasam confirm that we are in the heart of South India! :) Needless to say it's heavenly! Right food at the right time!

By 8pm we are all done and are chatting with the unassuming, kind people running the show. ''Would you like to join us for a short chanting session?'' - One of them asks us. What do you chant? Oh it's this and that, a bit Kannada and some Sanskrit." There are 6 children on the farm and the motley group of farm residents and visitors sit down in the community hall again. The chants start. It is more about participating than singing melodiously! But it touches our heart! After about 10 min we stop and observe a minute of silence with our eyes closed. It's so peaceful that I'm reluctant to open them again! We thank our hosts for including us in the small ritual and walk back to our cottage using our torchlights. It's 9 pm now and I'm sleepy!!! We've decided to get up at 5:30 am and do yoga. While setting up my alarm, it strikes me that I have 8 hrs and 24 min to sleep! Wow, what a luxury! Can't wait to wake up and look at the forest! :)

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