Unfortunately, Eric could not pull together enough players for a volleyball game, so we continued on the way to Navadarshanam, surrounded by decaying banyan trees, lush grasses, and a lightly-blowing wind. In the small village we passed through, a few children sneakily approached us, introduced themselves, and then ran away when we started asking them questions! I think their English studies had not progressed too far in their few years.
Finally we made it to Navadarshanam, where we were introduced to a few of the founders, one of whom attended Stanford for his engineering degree, and another who taught at Colgate. Exhausted, we retired to the guest house, where we browsed the literature on the shelf (including The Alchemist, and little books of various Gurus' teachings) before falling asleep for two hours, despite the sunlight gushing through the skylights. When we woke up, we went to the dining room for lunch, which like all of the other meals, was a communal affair; it was a treat to have Indian food prepared in community, and to have food that was fresh, but not heavy.
At Navadarshanam, there is a women's group that prepares and packages natural and organic products that go for sale in Bangalore supermarkets. I was able to observe the women as they sat on the wooden floor of their workroom, decked in their colorful sarees, connected in their shared endeavor of making enough money to better support their families. Before departing on Sunday, Eric and I made a stop in there to pick up local, forest-procured honey, dried fruit & nut logs, unpolished rice (polished rice, e.g. normal, white rice, is rice stripped of the nutrients, which are sold to pharmaceutical companies), homemade tomato sauce (Indian ketchup), non-detergent soap, organic tea, and more.
I won't go into every detail, but some of the highlights of the weekend were helping to roll the chapati (the Indian version of the tortilla) for Saturday's dinner, making one of my colorful salads using lettuce I had cut from the fields early on Sunday morning, and taking a late-night stroll on Saturday with Eric down to fields, from where we could actually see stars, and then swinging on the swing set near the guest house. In the peaceful environment in which a dedicated group of individuals had taken the time to design a fulfilling life for themselves without harming the land, I was able to reconnect with a sense of calm that I had lost in the city.
On the way back to Bangalore on Sunday, Eric and I squeezed in a small, white sedan alongside a middle-aged gentleman and a couple from the city (they had studied at Carnegie Mellon); we talked of inspirational authors, backyard gardens, organics, and other subjects I had not heard people in India talking much of until this point. I discovered that people everywhere share common concerns about sustainability, and though it was just talk, talk can turn into action, and multiple actions can = sweeping changes. The wife gave me her phone number and told me that anytime I need a taste of home I can call her to stay at her place, and then we were dropped us off in a part of the city we had never been in. The last bit of fun for the weekend was figuring out how to get home!
Note: The lack of photographs is not because I forgot my camera; no moments seemed right to whip my sleek Sony out. The space was not necessarily too sacred, I just wanted to be completely there. Perhaps if we had been there longer, we would have snapped some more pictures.