India – Week 1: An introduction to the south and to SEDS.
This week we have had a proper introductory to the south of India for Maurice’s first time, and my fourth time.
We have enjoyed an array of tasty eats; some home made and some restaurant made. One of the highlights so far has been to eat from a banana leaf with a spread of local specialty dishes in a restaurant in Bangalore on our first night. It has taken some getting used to, to eat with our hands (right hand only, as the left hand is considered the dirty hand) but now, by the end of week 1, we both feel quite adjusted to the way of eating now. The meal times were also an easy adjustment for us both, once you know when things are happening, it didn’t take long for us (our stomachs’ included) to get in the same flow. Lunch is usually around 14:00/14:30, and dinner around 20:00/21:00.
Our first week was primarily very chill and getting a feel for our new living environments and learning the way of our new life here for the next 6 weeks. For example, to be showering with buckets, drinking only filtered/bottled water and for me to be more mindful of how I dress to make sure it’s culturally appropriate.
On our drive back to the farm from Bangalore to SEDS, we stopped in at Proto Village; A super inspiring village being built from nothing at all, in a drought prone area, to create a sustainable village with its own eco system. Currently there are 12 families living there including some kids. Every day they are working on building structures using mud and sandbags, we even saw them in the progress of building a skate ramp for skateboarding. What we noticed after walking around and also from speaking with the initiator of the village is that children and the next generation are the primary focus of everything they are doing, and to make everything self sustainable. They are also currently almost finished with building a dome with several rooms, each to have a specialty; one for drone building, welding and machinery, 3D printing, cooking, clothes making, etc. The village initiator also explained to us that they are currently working on creating their own education curriculum to start a school there as well, and the goal would be to allow children to choose their own structure of their education to follow their dreams of what makes sense to them. Super inspiring!
Saturday was our first most active day so far, when roughly 90 out of 175 of the sponsored children from the program came to SEDS for the day. It was really special to spend time with the kids, though they arrived very shy yet curious of us, by the time they were leaving, some were then asking if we would come and visit their villages to see them again. We learnt a couple of local games that are played in the villages nearby (such as Coco and Kabaddi) and Maurice taught some of the kids how to do handstands and make a human pyramid. Most of the kids visiting know basic English sentences to ask what your name is and to ask about your family, but past that, our main form of communication was in body language, sports and smiles! The sponsored children are brought to SEDS on the second Saturday of every month for different activities. This Saturday they came to be measured for their Christmas clothing to be made for them by the local women, as well as to play some games of course, and then they also received a cooked lunch. We are already looking forward to the second Saturday in November when the children will visit again.
Sunday we also had our first physical insight into some of the environmentally based projects. Rohith took us out for a drive to visit some of the watershed projects in the local area that his dad, Rajen had been instrumental in setting up roughly 20 years ago. We had seen some photos a few days before, and I have seen the progress on my previous visits, but it was so different to now see this physically in person; such vast differences. Very impressive efforts and work had gone into making a greener environment in such drought prone areas.
Here are some of the before/after with 20 years difference, photos of the area we visited:
All in all, it has been a very relaxing yet senses overload type first week to introduce Maurice to India and to start learning more and more about SEDS as well as local culture. The next 6 weeks will be very fulfilling to say the least! Exciting 🙂