20 May 2006

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

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