31 May 2006

monsoon stories

ladies and frogmen, we have arrived.

the new world disorder, as it was. i've managed to sequested myself (partially) in the glories and failures of past ages -- russell's "history of western philosophy" and uncle ken's "eye to eye" but descartes and berkeley aside there's no way to doubt i am swimming in what rishis have for millenia termed:

"the rainy season". or, monsoon.

wind. rain. frequent power cuts. low light. cold. wet.

the dream has aquired a new topography. every crack in our roads is a river, every slight depression a lake. the only warmth i've experienced since the new moon has been

a) alongside the coveted kitchen fire, or
b) while digging ditches, splattered in the frog and snake habitat i was destroying, basically naked ever for a thickening sheath of rain.

not that it's entirely unsual for me to question/reject/confuse standard ways of knowing, but im really confused as to whether i'm back in epuyen, chopping wood for the warmth of the chopping (the warmth of the burning a dim afterthought contigent on whether i make it that far...), meditating and playing the flute alternately as I tire of one or the other.

it's been the same. a leveling. an abstraction from unhappiness or unhappiness, from passion and enthusiasm. nearly a week of rain, of flimsy cold and futile attempts at good posture during four-hour stretches in the hut.

it all forces me to think of the universe (or at least, my experience of it) as having a profoundly circular quality. the primitive and the illumined meeting in the muddy paths of a dream. all my clothes are wet so i sit damply all day and meditate. it's an image of pure poverty or supernatural bliss and i had so much difficult locating myself that i stopped trying.

what _is_ clear is renewal. that the monsoon washes away the past. memories. sins. patterns. footsteps. imbalance. it's a sort of jubilee of the natural world that unfortunately doesn't seem to apply to debt, either on the personal or national level. (another sense in which the human/social fractal obtains -- kerala, the richest state in india also has the highest debt and suicide rates, apparently from competition in "keeping up with the mohanans'" or whatnot. to a point where, unsurprisingly, i have no idea what "richest state" means. which, again, makes sense, since i have no idea what poverty means when one is surrounded by singing and jackfruits (and perhaps, just perhaps, the occassional singing jackfruit).

there are thin glorious moments, unevenly distributed and averaging to one per day, when the sun threatens to come out. the active translation of psychological ecstacy is putting the laundry out to dry (which was washed under in the rain in the now torrentially brown river) for a few minutes before the call of retreat is heard (alongside the mooning of bulls and elephants) and you're back to heart meditations and practicing the mayamalgaula scale.

last night i dreamed that ramana maharshi molested neilu when we visited his ashram, and i awoke to the memory that this enlightened sage was rama's (ramachandra gouda, the old hindu of epuyen) childhood mentor. last week -- after my birthday and on the last day of summer -- i visited the edekkal caves with my friend amal.

two notes:

a) cave paintings, four thousands years of age, were extremely trippy. i'm still coming to a coherent definition of trippiness but i think i mean something along the lines that
1) the paintings resemble other indigenious art i've seen and dreamt of, from mexico and australia, but only in structure and not in specific appearance. that is, the elements of the carvings were totally other but the way in which the mind might be led to combine them remains the same. almost as if a unifying force had to work through some media in one area and other media in another. i call that trippy.
2) the paintings in some sense model a human experience of the world that is authentic and immediate. i say human because i think it's available to all of us, all the time. even bush. especially bush. waiting for bush. as far as i could see (from looking around) they are non-representational (with a few humanoid figures thrown in) but give a strong impression of the way the world might appear, through another vision, a way of seeing behind what appears. like the green-on-black intuitive flash of the matrix in movement.

anyhow, they were very cool.

b) my stereotypes and expectations exist (however temporarily) only to prove their own insufficiency. so, a warning: the next time you spend the day with an awesome new friend who happens to be deaf-and-mute, _do not_ think it will be a quiet relaxing day of supraverbal communication. because it just might be a day of exhausting gesticulation if your friends happens to be as pleasant and garrulous and totally unwilling to be mutually silent as mine is/was. just so you know. be prepared (as always, my transcendental boy scout family).

which -- both -- get to what i shied away from completing earlier, that the realization of potential occurs precisely at its apparent annihilation. specifically in terms of the ego, in the senses i've felt it. wilber, i'm reminded by reading wilber, reminds me this happens necessarily at every stage of development -- each must be "destroyed" or "released" (at least in terms of its identification, its exclusivity) for the next to evolve.

so the fact im living without dry clothes on rice and meditation for the next couple of months, will, eventually, be a good thing.

one love psychadelic vedanta,

26 May 2006

PSFC Linewaiter's Gazette CcB Blurb

Howdy Folks,

For those of you who aren't voracious readers of the Park Slope Food Coop's Linewaiter's Gazette, I thought you might be interested to read the first publicly written Cooking com Bigode review by a non-Bigodean.

Excerpted from Linewaiter's Gazette May 25, 2006 (Happy B-Day Ank!) Issue, Article titled "Books at the Coop" by Ann Pappert:

When I asked Yuri [coop's bookbuyer] to recommend a favorite book, he handed me Cooking com Bigode, sub-titled "Vegetarian improvisational peasant fusion cuisine for the 22nd century." This quirky, small book features Brazilian recipes from a short-lived restaurant in the Brazilian state of Bahia.

After a few minutes of reading, it was easy to understand Yuri's enthusiasm for the book. Quite unlike almost every other cokbook I've ever read (and believe me, my passion for reading cookbooks is exceeded only by my passion for actually eating food) Cooking com Bigode is as much about a joyous and playful attitude toward food as it is about recipes. Spiral-bound and by all appearances self-published, it's worth seeking out on the shelves.

If you haven't yet picked up a copy, you can always log on to www.somethingconstructive.net/jamanta for more info.

25 May 2006

the last of the photos

i salvaged from the kannavu computer. jackfruit, naturally.


- ankur

of ignorance and coconuts

thursday may twenty-fifth. my first indian birthday i remember. it's raining and, comme toujours, j'ai trop mange. as it should be, mayhaps. i woke up to two hand made cards of dried leaves and peacock feathers. and a handmade ceramic leaf oil lamp. thank you.

at breakfast sajibrother asked me why we celebrate birthdays. language, pronoun, identity, and culture have me confused enough that i couldn't parse if he meant we as

Amerikan (Imperialist)s,
the people at Kanavu,
or _me_, personally.

i said something lame about an excuse to celebrate, then immediately thought of republic days, army days, independence days, victory days that, for some reason, i don't take as an excuse to celebrate. amendment: a harmless excuse to celebrate, the elevation of the banal (and thus benign).

"so the people celebrate birthdays there?"
"and then they cry at funeral days?"
well, yes.
"every year on the funferal day?"
oh, no. or, well, yes. um. i don't know.

satisfaction. back to the rice.

later, shirleyauntie grates the coconut flesh, slowly, methodically, so it cutes into small pieces for the making of milk. if a large scrape emerges she feeds it to chupie, her dog. she explains:

"now is the season of plenty for coconuts. so we will use a lot. in a couple of months there will be none. here, when we have we enjoy and we don't we do without."

a flashback to gujarat, to the walk, to a country road of sugarcane and cows somewhere in bharuch jilla. i pass a man giving orders under a tree. his workers told, he turns to talk to me. he eventually explains, "these people [ the adivasi labor imported from maharastra who live in temporary but permanent blue plastic tent homes ] don't have any education, any understanding. if they have twenty kilos of rice in home, they will eat it all and only come to work when it's finished. they are only concerned with pleasure, with today". each town in bharuch district has one paved street lined with three storey houses which the landowners have built. half are empty and cleaned occassionally by (underhoused) servants, their proper "residents" residing in the usa, uk, australia, fiji, etc. a few minutes walk from that paved street -- where i was without exception graciously hosted and entertained on my pilgrimage -- the huge colonies of laborers sprawl into lakes of sewage.

shirleyauntie again registers my attention: "we are interested in enjoying the present; the other way doesn't make sense. you feel frustrated at limiting yourself and angry when someone else takes more than 'her share'." you are always counting, hoarding, examining, judging. you are never free to enjoy. i know, i remember, i live like that sometimes.

perhaps it's not the coconut that is so good, but the taste of freedom. the pure enjoyment of the moment that knows and has no expectation to know of tomorrow. the taste of detachment that has no worry of not owning the taste of a coconut tomorrow or the next month. it is the reckless taste, perhaps counterintuitively to some notion of "us", which understands its limits, has an idea of enough, feels no fear of privation. the detached do not experience privation.

a truth i feel but a poor example. coconuts are living proof of the Godhead. no wonder these people -- brown men, indians, natives of the tropics -- believe in so many gods; they are blessed with so many coconuts. and each coconut is _so damned good_. it is oil, fiber, rope, medicine, food, drink, meat, milk, wood, brooms, art, furniture, and everything else.

there is this contradiction about the academy, about my life in the west, about living outside of "nature", that i'm just beginning to make simple. we seek to avoid injury, pain, and death, seek to protect ourselves from the mercury of weather, chance, and even each other. and some of us, at some times, within that framework, seek an understanding of our relationship to death and planet, of meaning, of what might have once been called God (with pleasant abandon). to the extent that we succeed in the former we are excluded from the latter.

that's what i'm gathering, anyhow -- from india, brasil, el salvador. from the poor and the adventuresome and the reckless and the spontaneous i have met, everywhere. to understand life (ie, death), one must be close to it, one must have immediate intuition of it, be afraid of it, be present to it. one must have death in the room, as part of life. not to live, i am saying, but to understand life, to answer all these questions you start asking if you pay attention (to anything -- farming or philosophy).

in these tropical zones, living outside "the built environment", that's a given. if the rains come late or the river floods your whole life, your whole village's life, is Other.  there are no vitamin tablets for the dry season. there are no fever vaccinations. there are no emergency rooms. there is no (mechanical) life support. it's exactly what suburban rock climbers are dreaming of. death. the damn thing about it is that it's very real. neilu has a foot infection and there's no doctor and it's conceivable shit could get very bad. the damn thing about understanding death by being close to death is that you end up close to death. all the time.

the point however, is that today is my birthday and we made dessert. i'll get to it (the point, the payasum, the dessert, the (finally!) recipe) but first a backtracking clarifiaction. by "nature", above, I don't mean nature or Nature or NATURE (for those ken wilber afficionados) but rather AMAZON. i mean the real immediate total presence of Love as Death as expressed by the symphony of Being all around us. and particularly flying biting stinging insects. that kind of closeness, that kind of intimacy. the AMAZON. to clarify.


the keralan rice pudding. i'd take a picture but the camera broke (fucking tropics!) so instead i'll tell you it's a freshwater brown and varies in consistency from milk to the last fifth of a turkish coffee.

ingredients include: rice, coconuts, jaggery, ghee, raisins (and other sundrieds), and spices.

as it's basically a rice pudding, one uses equal parts (by weight) rice, sugar, and coconut (which will be the cooking liquid, just you wait).

jaggery is unrefined sugar, the pure result of boiling sugarcane juice in the heat of the tropical sun. it comes as sweet brown rocks which we will heat with water to melt. use just enough water so the jaggery doesn't burn. when the jaggery has melted completely (if the mixture boils, take it off the heat and stir to accentuate the process) you can send it through a (tea) strainer to remove imperfections (it comes from india -- and countries with a billion people often impart their imperfections). set aside.

while your third eye is trained on shiva and your second on the jaggery, grate the coconnuts. you can use a robot north of the 23rd but down here it's all about the coconut grater (picture of sugatha using ones in the bangalore photos...). four or fives coconuts per kilo of rice (and kilo of jaggery). grate it small and feed mistakes to dogs and small children (children and small dogs). when the coconut is grated you can wrap it in a clean tshirt and squeeze the blood out.

they call this the 1st milk. mix the meat from the first milk with hot water (making a short tea of sorts) and, when cool enough to touch, strain the milk out again. theu call this the 2nd milk. mix the meat from the second milk with hot water (making anothr tea of sorts) and, when cool enough to touch, strain the milk out again. you can just grab large chunks of meat, wring them out with your hands, and colocate the meat in another pan. this is -- yes indeed -- the 3rd milk.

now. now. now. wash the rice and cook it in double it's quantity (by volume) of water. when the water has largely cooked off add the 2nd and 3rd milks. mix and cook. when the rice has cooked even more -- it should be very soft by end, it's rice pudding. remember. now. remember. future happening now -- add the cleaned jaggery syrupt. mix to unity. cook some more and reduce heat to lowest. at this point you can thicken as much as desired. when you're ready for the final touches, add the 1st milk and some of the following:

golden raisins fried in ghee until they baloon into beauty
thinly sliced coconut pieces fried in ghee until they brown
2.5:1 mixture of cumin and whole cardamom pods, roasted and ground to a fine powder.

other things fried in ghee (cashews, almonds, etc)

mix and let thicken to the desired consistency. serve to all your friends. it's your birthday. why the hell not. today to feed seventy people we used kilos of jaggery (100 points), 5 kilos of rice (we grew it), and 20 coconuts (they grew themselves).

and, as always, eat too much. maybe it's not worth saving.

21 May 2006

lost in jacaland

[ camera broke today. no pictures ]
may 21


nine twenty four on five twentyone from the kannavu school office. they have no problem handing me the key even though everyone is asleep and everything of value -- computer, money, phone -- is in this cubicle. which is to say, nothing that is Really valued here.

being in this place, this community, this community-as-part-of-a-timespace, i take on the role of the capitalist, the imperialist, the stodge, the square. hilarious and disorienting a la vez -- it's ank asking "what are you people going to do with your lives?" and thinking about the importance of money, proper diction, formal education, etc. it's ank whose first tired of dancing and doesn't know any of the songs. it's ank who doesn't have a clue of the language beyond elementary numbers and fruits.

we came here with this idea of building a house in the shape of a mango. we picked seven live arecanut (betelnut, sopari) trees -- tall palms a thigh's width in diameter -- to be our pillars and designed a series of trellaces (supports, crossbeams, buttresses, struts, rafters? i have no idea what to call these things) around them, so as neither to harm nor to kill the trees, and instead use their strength to hold Us up. we even started building the damn thing (in the shape of a mango, mind you, it was to be BEAUTIFUL) before it became clear that no one who actually lived here was too enthused about our mangohouse / shrine / yogastudio. not that they were opposed (these kids haven't learned about opposition, methinks) but there's a lot of fences that need mending and preparation for the monsoon to be done.

so the imperial falcon put the brakes on mangolandia hq and shifted down to indigenious directed projects. they caught on the cookbook at some point and requested salads. neilu and i starved for naked raw crisp loving and jumped on it (as in, "jump on it"). our first salad invovled bitter wild red greens with a dressing built upon a lattice of grated coconut garlic ginger and chile. we left it to wilt (lightly) and they ended up cooking it. today we tried again -- cut and stored the veggies in our hut, blanched the beans in the solar cooker we built -- and brought it out just before dinner. none of the kids touched it but everyone who ate it seemed to be psyched.

resistance is futile. in all directions. for you and for me, for us and for them.

- o bigode

www.somethingconstructive.net | mangolandia.blogspot.com

20 May 2006

the New style

in memory of andrew dawson

everyone in south india has a moustache. i couldn't hold out any longer. i'm sorry.

more neilu notes

ank and i met mali's uncle last night. filmmaker. saw one film called redefining peace, which gave an inside view of some amazing women from india. they were only part of the 1000 women world wide picked for the noble peace prize, cause we are all fighting for peace in each person, each household, each community, you get the idea. so let's broaden our perspective for a minute.

some clips from our conversations with the uncle: the filmmaker is an artist that has power, the power of an artist is necessary to create but the power can also destroy the creativity, find the balance and don't forget that you are not powerful but the middle man/the connection, the middle class is so so necessary to make things happen to make people/politicians listen and do something, you never hear about the villagers being slaughtered so don't forget the importance of the middle class, lots of talk about adavasis in india and their land being taken up by mining aluminum, 97% of the aluminum is used for self defense, what's up with that?, japan is about to buy out kerala's entire water mobilization, so the government can give up any responsibiity of actually thinking and start signing off on documents (probably just hitting the official papers with a rubber stamp) , so the government starts acting like a corporation, and the corporations start gaining the real control and manipulating countries, so i ask who is doing the thinking? but don't worry, this activist says that he has a good group of friends and is not alone in his struggle, the group is big, the support is there, he had to unlearn a lot of his learned stuff from his youth, and people either say that the smoking and alcohol is because artists are a different breed and strange or that they are doing such great work that they need the influences, funny how society deals with feelings of the other, the other that is doing what no one can criticize, the other that shows each person how they have given up the struggle and become satisfied with what they have been told is good, but we all know. we all know. if you can't meditate, you probably just can't stand listening to yourself. so start listening cause... i'm getting off track here.

there is so much more. there is always more. but i will have to leave time to eat all the mangos, pineapple, and jackfruit that has entered my life. thanks to ankur and gandhi, fruit has entered my life in an overwhelming fashion, and i am loving it. if you don't know about the jackfruit, there will be pictures soon. it resembles a prickly cocoon with an alien lifeform about to hatch, comes in various large sizes and shapes, contains fruit you can just eat when ripe or not ripe or cooked or not cooked, nut/seed thing inside you can cook and eat, stringy things, and sticky gooey messy stuff you can only get off with oil (coconut oil is all you find here, too bad, but you just gotta live with what you got here, maybe i can bring back a couple of jugs). and yes, this is where the taste of the american bubblegum has come from. i plan on living off jackfruits for the rest of my stay at kanavu, so i must go climb that jacka tree now and cut off some dinner. it is also a great way to interact with the villagers and party cause everything gets sticky.

maybe i can spend a minute describing kanavu? impossible, but try to imagine a place where all your water comes from two wells. so an average day involves a bucket or too to shower, unless you are male and can go for a dip in the river, a bucket for cleaning clothes unless it is the monsoon and everything is wet all the time anyway so why wash, and a bucket or two for bathroom flushing. remember everyone in india eats with their right hands, connect this with the previous line and you will also only use your right hand. waking up between 4 or 5 starts with tabla playing, singing, meditation and followed by martial arts around 6 and cleaning/cooking chores around 7. everyone eats rice and beans with lots of hot stuff at 8. then, the daily weaving of these 40 students goes into full swing. some are away in other parts of india or abroad studying, others are "oncampus" in the library, reading, writing, creating pottery, singing, cooking, farming, working in the office and on the computer, playing music, travelling "offcampus" to do projects in town, or collecting jackfruits for everyone's enjoyment which involves a few kilometers of walking with the alien cocoon on your head. lunch is betwen 1 or 2. nap. evening singing and dancing begins around 6, dinner at 9. so now you know what we are up to. so if you need some motivation, just think about this place, the daily work that is being done, and get off your XXXX and learn to play an instrument or something. you might just fall in love.

ank has also reminded me of what i forgot in my previous post. the aunt also said that it would be a wonderful thing if ank could just settle down and make his mom happy. maybe there are others that would be happy if ank settled down, i don't know. but feel free to express your thoughts by yelling really loud at 5pm india time, when ank and i clean our hut, light the candles, and pray. that is the best time to reach us. otherwise, our minds are probably busy, just until we get enlightened.

redefining peace

at some point im going to create an index of all the fantastic and amazing people and art ive met along the way to wherever it is were all going (together) and in that you will find some entries under 'kp sasi'. sasimama is malavika's uncle, a revolutionary filmmaker and conversationist. all love and smiles and grit -- he came over to our hut yesterday before the jackfruit ritual and after the rain had stopped, interrupting a conversation neilu and i undertook about the difference between peace and harmony to inform us he would be screening a film (his film), called "redefining peace".


the film was somehow about the difference between peace and harmony and detailed the lives of some indian women who had been nominated for the holy dynamite peace prize as part of '1000 women for the peace prize' movement last year. which i had never heard of but sounded like a good way to demonstrate the farcical nature of the whole endeavor. i would love to make a film or collage of sound/images of nobel peace prize laurates saying and doing horribly hateful things, and footage of wars they helped create, filmed at The Exact Moment they accepted the prize. that might be nice but here i am living in the forest editing my gandhi docs and polishing bamboo flutes.


its hard, in the aftermath of watching a movie about adivasi land rights and indian army brutality, to get a sense of how the dream life is the same as the struggle life, but there a tenuous sense in which its true and thats what ive been trying to hold on to, to flatten, to shine into the last few years, between lebanese refugee camps, organic farms, and the ashrams of the future -- the dolphin future, the only future worth living -- we're busy creating. you and i.


anyhow, i recommend this movie. and i recommend a deep prayer of appreciation to the women it chronicles. they are amazing, the strongest and best fibers of your body -- it is they you and now. the film is called 'redefining peace'. kp sasi's website is <a href=" http://visualsearch.org/films-available/peace-women.htm">visualsearch.org</a>. the 1000 women for the prize has a <a href=" http://1000peacewomen.org/">website</a>, as well.


in beginning and conclusion, i think i'll be phrasing my future efforts at "world peace through organic farming" [ its what gandhi told me to do] in terms of "world harmony". to avoid the kind of peace that is 'kept' by the barrell of a gun.


kannavu dreaming



10 days at wayanad

so its been a while and the shift key is certainly not cooperating. i feel like i just rolled out of a samoan cookhouse to a misty mountain road. where is the fireside and where all the cliffs?


this is come from a spacetime in northern kerala and a bodymind giddy with mango consumption. were at the two kilo -- 4.4 pounds -- point and the joy has gone through the blissout and tickles at dizziness and intoxication. me mareo en la silla. however, they are -- quite literally -- all good.


the mango man had seven varieties this morning. some at 40, some at 30, some at 25, and our staple -- large, yellow breastlike creatures -- at 20. there was a green 40 worth the price. each mango is beautiful and full of mangoness, yet some are more mango than others. when theyre less mango theyre more papaya, coconut, pineapple, ginger, or -- today for the first time -- rose. i have the idea that mangos, like apples and wine, can be infinitely analyzed and appreciated. perhaps everything is like -- you have enough and it stops tasting like whatitis and more like whatitsnot.


hard to have confidence in any kind of idea when im this into the mango scene. im basically more mango than human at this point. my skin is turning poisonous, my blood attracting bees. healthy competition for the leeches. perhaps.


also hard to have confidence in any kind of idea when my language skills are lacking. i can order four bus tickets to internet town and beyond that its best to play "deaf-mute" and go for the price discount ( communist state ). even harder when you know only the basics of an incredibly difficult and fast language: the hypothetical question. like asking if a restaurant has dosas without actually ordering. go ahead, you try it.


also of note from the iranian correspondent: her mother apparently had an "iranian rice cooker" growing up. iranian rice is famous, apparently (not in the cookbook, how the hell should i know)

- saffron

- having a hard crusty bottom.

so the famous "iranian rice cooker" maintains most of the standard "asian rice cooker" design but eliminates the automatic shutoff which would subvert the good iranian wife's attempts at burning the bottom. so it never turns off. brilliant.


i took some pictures of jackfruit and forgot them in the forest. later i promise. we've made it through 10 days at kannavu. the 10 days were an experiment -- everything there is an experiment, we are very much at home -- in education: 10 girls, 10 boys, 10 chores, 10 days. in between the chores and through them the kids learned about different things. the library clean day usually means english classes, the office day means answering phones, computer, and accounting work. music and dance are happening all the time.


upon first coming here i felt useless, that my education and background could offer very little to these kids (some of whom are my age) who have grown up among such cultural and natural lushness. everything i think i know a little about -- math, philosophy, politics -- comes out of a world with lots of problems, a sick world full of sick people. perhaps the education even contributes to my sickness and perhaps thats what ive been working off over the past five years of tripper grad school.


but here those approaches and knowledges seem irrelevant. kannavu is a dream. or so i thought -- the next night i witnessed a confused discussion over how the schedule should rotate: who would pair with whom and what jobs. nobody could agree. the younger kids were waiting for dinner. definitely a problem.

a simple scheduling problem, actually, and five minutes later i had it all worked out according to a simple algorithmic procedure. 10 days and everyone has different partners and jobs each day. no room to argue. so there's a sense in which i'm useful after all -- since some of the girls have asked for spanish lessons, for spanish poetry -- and it's good to settle into what's been waiting you all along.


we wake up to meditate at 4. i fall back asleep and wake up to neilu meditating at 6. one or two tabla can be heard from the hall and the children are often singing next door. by seven everyone has bathed (boys in the river, girls at the hall), practiced music and martial arts. including neilu and i. by eight the morning chores are done and rice is served.


rice is breakfast lunch and dinner. rice with beans in the morning -- mung, chana, or chori. rice with sambar (vegetable soup) and sometimes chutney at lunch. rice with boiled and sauteed green vegetables at dinner. breakfast and dinner rice are called "kanji" and are cooked and served with lots of water. lunch rice is how you might imagine a rice pilaf or something.


ill save further explanations for the picture session but a brief report on activities -- we started building a mango shaped hut and have since suspended activity, trying to feel out what the community might prefer us to do. we built a huge solar cooker that looks like a giant elephant foot and are waiting to test it. its the best and sturdiest solar cooker ive built, out of bamboo and mud. i talked to some metalworkers about building the blender-bike and it requires ordering a piece that might cost 500 points, so im not sure whether to go forward with it. and i went to a bamboo town and learned all about harvesting, cleaning, and carving bamboo, and have started to try to make bamboo flutes. the goal would be to teach and to arm all the students with accurate bamboo flutes.


any help would be appreciated on that one.


one love amidst the mountains and elephants of waynad.


www.somethingconstructive.net | mangolandia.blogspot.com

12 May 2006

Neilu tells stories after 4 weeks with Ankur

So it has only taken a month to adjust enough to post some news. As I look back in the journals to April 16, you have to imagine a night out with Ank's family. Taking a trip to the farm house, I find myself in a room with two of Ank's aunts. One starts repeating herself saying, "Ankur is so smart, so smart. Just loot at this Gandhi walk he did. It is incredible." And the 26 days smack in the middle of it all, all of India, IS incredible. And it is so good to know that even family, with all their looks of discontent and voiced opinions on what you wear, facial hair, and what you do with your time (i.e. when are you going to get a job?), can sometimes see that life is about the experiences created by you. So I just want to take a minute, cause I don't get many in India, to say what an amazing thing Ank has been able to do, to keep walking (nonstop).

Maybe to get some perspective, a description of my only hour and a half alone in India will bring some color to the picture. My journal describes me walking with my backpack in Trivandrum (the southern tip of India). Zapped into infinite time space, public roads full of men asking me to catch a ride in their rickshaws, to eat or sleep at their business, one man follows me down the street and says things I still do not understand, everyone waving their hands "this way", is this the next intersection? India seems full of paths crossing with people, lots of people, able to show the way. So make the right decision because the rest depends on this infinite moment. So no, I continue walking, trying to find a back street with maybe less stimulous, less people, maybe? Should I go to the quiet temple, no not now.

Okay, here is a tree where I can, maybe, read? Silly, of course, to even think... young beautiful woman comes out of her work place and offers me to stay inside her business or in the garage type structure just in front of me. Really, I just want to be near this tree! She walks away, and the brother comes and waves for me to follow him. He is a fortune teller. The sister says if I want, she will translate. As difficult as it is to communicate, no thank you, I have to try since Ank is waiting for me. So she also offers a place to stay over night, lunch, whatever she can. What did I do to deserve this? Then brother enters with a very long stick in his hands, walks by, and starts poking at the tree I am sitting under. The mangos begin to fall. I run around gathering the fruits that krishna is pouring from the sky. Do I take all these fruits? Why all for me? I try to leave some for the brother, but once again, no thank you is a difficult thing to communicate. But I make it out in time to meet Ank, and India just keeps giving and giving.

The first sign I saw in India, just outside of the aunt and uncle's home says, "PRAY, it works." I can not tell you how many people have led the way, prepared and eaten food with us (includes loads of food prepared by the one only master chef Ank), told us their stories, and just helped us along the way. We are now living with a community that is a place full of dreams. If you translate dream, you will discover the name of this beautiful place, Kanavu. About 40 children of all ages up to 25 live here and sing, dance, farm, meditate, practice martial arts, clean, cook, and study every day. All the things I have been looking for seem to be in this one place. There is so much to learn and so much to give.

Just as a warning, if you ever go to Sri Lanka, don't take all the books you brought to read over the next six months with you. Because your legs might just decide that the climb up to Buddha's footprint are not up for the journey. And then, you will find yourself in the mountains with lots of other living, breathing, creatures. Of course, I have not seen enough creatures yet on my journey. But at Kanavu, every night people have to scare the elephants away with wild yelling, so the adventures are just beginning, I am sure.

05 May 2006

Directions to Kannavu, the dream in the forest

mailing address contact info:

c/o kanavu
nadavayal PO
wayanad district
pin 670721

get a VISA. i recommend the 10 year verison in case you decide to go sannyasi.

get to the south. you can either fly to bangalore (bangbang) or to calicut (kozhikode). or anywhere else in kerala (trivandrum or cochin). spicejet and kingfisher are cheap domestic airlines

if you're coming from bangbang you can get a bus to BATHERY in kerala. it's a medium town about half an hour away from me. ive never taken that bus and can't help with the details.

if you're coming from kalicut go go to the KSRTC bus stand and take the bus to PANAMARAM. the destination of the bus is MANATHODY (or something) but if you ask for PANAMARAM it's good. PANAMARAM means PALM TREE. the ride is around 3 hours and you go up through huge hills (the Western Ghats) for 2 hours and then level out and start going through towns again. its really amazonular and i would start no later than 3:30 so as to arrive in daylight.

from bathery or panamaran get a local bus to KERNICHERA. if people dont understand that (pronouncing it is hard) ask for "kannavu school' and they will take care of you. the thing in india is always to rememebr that everybody will take care of you. its just how it is. you dont need maps and directions because there are people everywhere and they are all part of mother india and mother india is the human amazon and the amazon loves you.

they will tell you where to get off but if you must know say "cheengoda". it looks like "Bigode" but the pronounciation is totally Other. you will be let off on a road with two shops and a dirt road across the street. follow the dirt road to kannavu. dont turn just go straight until you hear the singing. be aware of elephants they are very hard to see because they are very quiet and have an EXCELLENT sense of smell. ask for kannavu everytime you see someone and somenbody will likely lead you there. dont be shy or mess up -- it's a rule in india that you must check in with each person; the one time you don't you will lead yourself astray.

again, beware of the elephants and don't mind the tarantulas.

love, ankur

back from sri lanka

and barely with it. it broke both of us. photos coming with the speed of kozikhode internet to
there should be a few directories, ie:


sri lanka is the most amazing place in the world. i thought it would be india with a twist but it turns out it was actually populated by brazilians. every woman smiles and looks you in the eye and they listen to fushion of good indian music, hip hop, and traditional mexican stuff. it's pretty amazing.
nobody speaks english and so everything they tell you is wrong (not intentionally). if you go DONT TRUST ANYONE, just be content with loving them. smile a lot. they are 100% with smile returning. no joke. not like anyother place ive seen -- especially with women/girls; in the US they think youre hitting on them, in brasil they're hitting on you, and in india theyll tighten their veils. but in sri(brasilian)lanka it's just one love beautiful black skin and white teeth smiles.
so perfect. and the best pineapples this fruiter has ever had.
one love