16 May 2008

waiting on scanner

i win i win i win i win. such a blessing all of it. today, here at samvad, the official name of the mangolandia futane mango farm, of which i am now somehow an integral part, we started another kids camps.

kids camps -- one of the activities of the mango makers while theyre not busy with their godgiven duty, along with antiliquor campaigns, womens cooperatives, village constructive work, and watershed management -- happen here more than monthly, it seems, and accept 20-50 kids for 3-7 days from surrounding villages, to show them the good life of natural farming, fun work, songs, games, and organic food.

i didn't realize when they asked if i would be here for the camp that i would be in charge of the kids activities, until today. as it should be. so we started at 4, talking about color. and how brushes and paints cost money and one day i was in AMERIKA but wearing a lungi so i had no money but hell man i really wanted to paint.

all of this, by the way pulling your ear, is in the most american accented english i can muster, just barely toned down so chinmay futane, my mango brother and unofficial translator, could get it across. and the 10-14 year old village kids, some of whom are aadivasi (tribal) and some more classically marati (from the state of maharastra) just love it. they love american english. and i keep it clean, (un)naturally.

i tell them my friend bhoomi (some indian languages for "earth", also a name) comes up and offers me some color. so we touch the earth around our toes and shout "good afternoon bhoomi" (good afternoon being in english) and then i unwrap a newspaper full of natural color i had collected that morning -- different fruits, flowers, and leaves we could use to paint.

we divide the groups into chaotic and uneven brigades of village kids eager to prance barefoot over hook and crook to get their assigned plant matter. my group went down the dusty village road to get bael, a new favorite fruit with no good english translation. aegle marmelos in latin, used frequently in ayurveda, a hard wooden shell and a sweet orange pulp inside. related to wood apple if that helps at all.

and there one in on the side of the road. we gather around it and say, in english, "dear bhoomi, thank you for this fruit", with 11 pairs of small brown hands (that may one day grow to play the bansuri) around a sad cracked bael on the side of road, touching our friend the earth with earnest joyful kid devotion.

sometimes its just too much. too great. too powerful. the rest was now and is history and, armed with a scanner, i cant help but scan my pride into a few images. we played all kinds of games and tag and stories and music and dancing and im a little amazed that from a place where i was once afraid or indifferent to kids, ive turned into some wizard who is running childrens camps and taking care of charges in central america and strange twists of fate like that.

but the kids here are so beautiful, the eyes are so big and full of trust. they copy everything you do with innocence and devotion. after kannavu style dancing and drumming which we instigated before (currently in progress, i can almost hear them over the cowbells) i started stretching a little bit (2.5 hours picking mangos from the ground this morning, you know, a lot of windfall) and i opened my eyes three asanas later to find all the kids (who werent still drumming with bamboo and bricks from the last game) copying me. and we did yoga together there for 15 minutes in total silence, under the moonlight. they copied every inhale and exhale, every moment and twist. there is no need to speak. the heart listens and the heart speaks.

and then the prayers -- this beautiful prayer from one of the teachers i will try to record, about how everything is god -- the birds and the colors and the smells. and it is.

so there. it's not just mangos. and as vinoba says, work is worship. the days pass and i have no idea, no recognition, no cognition even, perhaps, that i am working. i am just tending my garden (hoping the little seeds sprout) and playing with children and walking under the trees, eating mangos with my friends.

one love open university

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