It’s been a really long silence this time! And not because there was nothing to write about but because too much has been happening and in between I was too ill (severe congestion, fever…) to post anything. There are unfinished drafts that I am now tying up.
Attended quite a few exciting workshops, starting with a Kabir workshop at Navadarshanam in August.
Navadarshanam is an organisation started with the aim of exploring ecological and spiritual alternatives to the modern way of living. To learn more go to http://www.navadarshanam.org/. The site hasn’t been updated for ages but you will learn about the mission and the principles of how the place functions. It is a village around two hours drive from Bangalore and is a lovely place with a lot of natural beauty and fresh air.
I had last been to ND on an art retreat for around five days I think with some close friends. The place is run on solar power and I think it was the end of summer. In the afternoons it was a little difficult in our cottages without fans but the place is generally cool and so it was otherwise quite pleasant. So this time in the middle of August it was naturally very pleasant.
This time what brought around 30 participants together was this workshop on Kabir, where Ananthu, one of the founders of Navadarshanam, expounded the meaning of select bhajans of Kabir and the experienced singer and educationist Tara Kini taught us how to sing the bhajans of Kabir and also took magical early morning sessions on the rudimentary aspects of the Dhrupad style of Hindustani music.
Although I was not quite well, it was a transporting experience thanks to so many factors–the serene and natural ambience of Navadarshanam, the lovely and varied participants drawn to the workshop by a common love for music, Kabir and all that Navadarshanam stands for, the wonderfully meditative quality of Tara’s singing, especially in the hushed early mornings, Ananthu’s insightful discourses on the meanings of the bhajans, the delicious food… whatever it was, it was amazing.
And one thing led to another. At the workshop among many people I connected to Anil Kapoor of whom you can learn more by visiting his website http://anilkapur.org/ I noticed that he did not take the food served at Navadarshanam but had brought his own food. I learnt that he has been a raw foodist for many years. In the brief intervals we also had some conversations that made me aware of his deep connection with nature, which intrigued me.
Visiting his website, I found the link to the book by his mentor Dr Norman Walker, which had almost as powerful an influence on me as it had on Anil I think. Soon I had bought almost all the books by Dr Norman Walker on my kindle and started acting on his teachings too. I had started pestering Anil with various questions on how to practice the diet recommended by him. And Anil patiently kept guiding me like he has been doing for so many others.
So when I learnt that Anil was about to conduct a square foot gardening workshop at Bangalore I jumped at the opportunity and managed to enthuse a couple of my friends to join in too. And two weeks after that two of us went back to his place for his salad making workshop.
Those lovely transformative workshop days at Anil’s place (he generously offered to host us at his house) were about not just square foot gardening and salad making. They were days of bonding with my best friends at another level, being drawn together by common pursuits and the fun of exploring and discovering.
My diet has now gained more variety and flavour thanks to my workshop insights and I am working towards finally using my terrace for square foot gardening which, along with its many advantages, is space and water saving.
A bonus was that my friend Sharada and I stayed over an extra day and visited Anil’s farm. Lunching at his compact farm house and strolling through the rain drenched trees, plants and flowers all around, we learnt so much about gardening and farming as Anil shared his experiences and knowledge.
To know more about square foot gardening you could go to http://www.squarefootgardening.com/. Anil and his friend Viswas who conducted the workshop (you may check out Viswas’ site too here http://squarefootfarmers.in/) have adapted the ideas of Mel Bartholomew, the found of square foot gardening, to India and have also supplemented the technique with insights from biodynamic farming.
At the salad workshop we got to make and eat divine dishes but more importantly, we learnt the health principles behind them and how to combine ingredients accordingly. While the recipes were drawn from various sources, the presentation on health principles and ingredients to use in salads was largely based on the teachings of Dr Norman Walker. To learn more you could read Dr Norman Walker’s book Vegetarian Guide to Diet and Salad.
Starting another blog on my experiments with diet and maybe will start another on terrace gardening.