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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Sadhana Forest, part 3

(Part 1; part 2.)

A passionflower growing outside the kitchen.

April 9th.

‘Rode back to Sadhana Forest in a red truck on top of 350 coconuts, all the men in trucks and tractors staring down at my bare legs, and I just kept thinking ‘I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts

Another view from my pillow, late afternoon.

Diva, Franzi, and Remy performing at open stage Wednesday night. (Diva is using her new aforementioned singing bowl.)

Jaspreet henna’ed Annika’s hands. Gorgeous.

Chloe and Remy. Such an adorable couple, and so much fun to be around.


April 28th.

One of the dogs left a GIGANTIC rat right outside the kitchen last night. Steph told Sen (the appointed “rodent relocator” this week) to move it into the forest to let nature do its thing, and Sen reluctantly applied himself to the task with a rice sack.

Me (sympathetically): Thanks for doing that, Sen.

Sen: My pleasure!

Just the way he said it cracked me up.

Elisa, Christian, Annika, and Judith making dinner.

Part of why I love Sadhana Forest is that you can feel like you’re doing something useful every single day. I’ve tried volunteering plenty of times before, and each time I wound up frustrated, oftentimes because it seemed like resources (particularly of the human kind) were going to waste through inefficient (or downright ineffective) planning. For instance, I signed up for an afterschool mentoring program and got linked up with a sixth-grader just because my birthday is in November and his is in December. This was meant to be something we had in common, I kid you not. He gave me monosyllabic answers to open-ended questions and stopped coming after the third week. I’ve also tried volunteering for the elderly and housebound a couple different times, which is hard because when people are lonely they can expect a little too much of you; and in another instance I asked a volunteer coordinator repeatedly to hook me up with someone who wasn’t already getting a few visitors a week, someone who might really need a visitor, and he never got back to me. It kinda feels like I’m saying ‘I can’t deal with people, I prefer seeds’, but when it’s just you and the earth and a packet of cosmic purple, or you and a vat of daal and a crew of hungry gardeners, swale waterers, and woodchoppers, there’s none of the nonsense involved when somebody’s dropping a ball or giving you a guilt trip because you’ve been visiting them for only two hours. Does that make sense?

Anyway, suffice it to say I left Sadhana feeling changed in the best possible way, and I can definitely see myself going back there someday.

Next post: a trek through the tea and spice plantations of Munnar!

2 Comments to Sadhana Forest, part 3

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    June 8, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Add to the list, our volunteer experience in Bosnia–I learned a lot about Bosnia, but I’m not sure I really helped anyone. I think that’s a struggle with life, and not just volunteering–trying to find something that’s actually worthwhile and not just an inefficient use of human resources.

  2. June 8, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Yes! I ought to have mentioned Bosnia too. For the benefit of anyone who may be reading this who is not my sister (haha):
    In June 2007 we volunteered at a summer camp designed to bring children of different faiths/ethnicities together. We had fun with the kids, but we didn’t really feel like we’d actually helped anyone apart from giving some of the older kids a chance to practice their English–they all seemed quite well off and got along together beautifully, and meanwhile the Roma (‘gypsy’) children were digging in trashcans and constantly asking us for money. The volunteer coordinator said there was nothing they could do about it; the Roma don’t think they need any help, it’s their way of life, etc. A frustrating situation, for sure.

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.