Back Home at Shikshan Gram – India

Its impossible to describe to you how I really feel about being back here.. about this sense of being at home.

Picture of the Shikshan Gram family outside our half finished building.Its unrealistic to try to paint you a word picture of the love and happiness that is flowing in this place… how a simple time spent in the kitchen area, hanging out watching the breakfast being prepared – with both Satish and Yogita being in there – hands on.. mixing the spices, washing the channa (chickpeas) joking, singing, laughing, spreading the love to everyone who comes by or who is helping the process move along.

Picure of the family cleaning the chick peas ready for cooking

Cooking a huge pot of chickpeas for breakfast for all of us.. over100 people … and the taste!!!!

But I will do my best!

They say the kitchen is the heart of the home.. well you really feel it here.. it seems to me that the most precious times I experience here are in the kitchen – the communal way of preparing food, the team work that goes into it.. peeling great piles of garlic.. four people at once, the huge amount of food that all gets cooked on one gas ring.  The girls sitting on the floor using small round wooden boards to roll out the chapatis – a job that takes more than an hour each day as Picture of making chapatisthere are chapatis to be made for everyone.

Satish singing songs – or sometimes playing his flute.. and laughter.. always laughter.

I wander out onto the top of the roof – above the hall below .. now our gathering place – the place for meditation and for celebration and for Kung Fu practice when it is raining – I find an old plastic chair and sit amongst the building materials – looking out across the valley.  The rain has stopped for a short time, although I realise I have a damp ‘behind’.. mmm the chair was not quite dry!

The valley is so green is in almost unreal.  There are huge white cranes flying from one rice paddy to the next.  It seems the lush growth and the damp absorbs the noise that rebounds from the distant highway at the end of the valley as I have hardly heard it since being back.

I sit there and realise that I feel so blessed to be here.. what good fortune it is to share this journey with these people.  I wonder at how it is that I have been so lucky to deserve this experience.Picture of three of the boys who live at the shelter

…and then company arrives… in the form of three boys. come to chat.. there is always someone around.

Gone is the isolation that so many of us experience in the west… the sense that you can be in your house and not see anyone from one end of the day to the other.. that you can walk out the front door, get in your car and go to the shop and hardly speak a word to anyone.  Not so here.. there is shouts and laughter and the noise of the children washing over the place .. you might think that is a disturbing noise – that living almost as it were in a school could be challenging.. but not so.  It just deepens the sense of harmony.

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