Category Archives: Environment

Kotumachagi and a storm that changes lives….

It’s been a long day – lots of driving over rough roads – Sikandar’s lawyer friend Nadaf came with us and sat and chatted in the front with Sikandar.

That left me in the quiet of my own space, sitting in the back seat, taking occasional pics out the window and enjoying the passing parade between fields and villages.

Finally about 2.30 we stopped for food at a nondescript looking place that had a table out under a neem tree where the motor bikes parked. It was cool there and the food was excellent!! an amazing lunch.

And then we arrived at Sikandar’s village. We are sitting up in the roof. There are two rooms here one even has a mattress in the bed. I have claimed that one for tonight!! It’s not usually used and in sort of in a store room of farm stuff.
This is a small farming village and right behind the house is a Hindu temple and two doors down is the mosque. So the call to prayer is pretty loud here!
The village sounds now are good. Very few vehicles the occasional motor bike. But all the houses are close together so there is a lot of people noise.
Chit chatting laughing kids noise, people walking past. Oh a tractor just started up. I am sitting on a plastic chair with my feet up on the wall. Sikandar is in his village clothes. A lungi and a t shirt that I bought him in Greece last year proclaiming ‘Athens’ on it with a Greek pattern. He is sitting on the wall chatting to a friend. No clue what they are talking about so it is just quiet noise to me.

The family goat is tied by the front door and is ‘meahing’.. maybe she is a bit hungry?
There is thunder In the distance and a bit of a storm hanging around but no rain here yet. Nice cool breeze though. Guess we will eat something in an hour or so. Hoping for an early night.

And then the rains came. I retreated from the rooftop as the first big drops splattered around me, into the small room built for guests – where Sikandar was to sleep. I took my plastic chair with me – Sikandar also entered with a friend, they talked quietly for some time but the rain began beating on the metal roof with louder and louder insistence.

A storm, lightning, huge thunder and incessant rain – so heavy .. I read my book for some time then suddenly the power went off.  As I sat there listening to the downpour, the fury of the weather beating all around me, I thought of the farms we had driven through all afternoon. Of the farmers there ploughing and putting in their seeds and some of them harvesting the early corn and other small crops.. and of Sikandar’s father coming home on his tractor in the afternoon.. he had been seeding – channa – chick peas and wheat.  What of those seeds now?  Where were they? Washed away.. washed out?  What of the coming crop – those tiny seedlings that were poking their heads through – washed away?  What of the fertiliser at Rps1500 a bag.. a precious 1500 when you don’t have much – also washed away?

A storm like this is not just a rain storm here .. it is a shift in the balance of economy in just a couple of hours, meaning the difference between a good year and a bad.. a hungry year and a bounteous year.

As I felt the full force of this storm the rain also came to my eyes.. I allowed myself to feel what each farming family in this village must be feeling .. the devastation of the rain. Yes certainly rain is needed,  but at this time – too late in the season of the monsoon to have a downpour like this.. the farmers confused in their normal timing of sowing and seeding.. not knowing when to start – when to wait.. the pattern is so changed.

Nature in her natural cycles – should be feeling the downturn of the rains now – what used to be  left of the monsoons more gentle, easily absorbed by the land – nurturing to the crops .. not belting down and tearing through the land like a ravaging flood.

But finally it begins to abate.. and it is time to go downstairs to the main living area of the house.. I try to huddle into the back of Sikandar struggling to shelter under a very inadequate umbrella as we go down the steps.. getting my back soaked anyway.

And into the house, where the small goat now nestles in the corner, lucky she is out of the rain .. and Sikandar’s mother and father move around the house, mopping up the flood that has entered through the cracks in the windows.. concerned lest the sacks of grains stored there are wet, shifting them into the middle of the room out of the way of the water streams.. most are safe with only a couple of jute bags with wet patches on the bottom.

and finally dinner..

We sit on the mat .. a plastic version of the older style straw mats.. and his mother brings food.. delicious food she has cooked in the light of a small candle.. two types of vegetables, channa with a green tastiness, and a green veg .. also delicious .. some fried green chillis with salt, chappati, pickle, the taste of home cooked farm food, so good. How did she manifest this feast over the tiny stove in the kitchen – in the almost darkness of the power outage?

We eat and I retreat back up stairs to read and sleep fortunate to find the window by my bed had held the rain back – keeping my bed relatively dry. Then to wake a little disorientated having been dreaming ‘Australia” and finding myself here in this room in an Indian village so far from the pictures of my native home.

And I think on the world and the weather chaos that is happening all over.. the hurricanes and floods and major disasters – and I realise that here too a disaster has just occurred – but who will hear of it? Who will know the hardship that will result in this village from the downpour of last night? The loss of the crops – the shortage of food in the future.. the confusion of the not knowing any more how to trust the patterns of the seasons.

These are the silent places – not shouted out like major events – but disasters just the same… the weather is changing – there is no denying it – ask the farmers in Kotumachagi – they know.  They need no scientist to tell them the statistics.. they overnight have become a statistic.

Miracles in Pathoda Village

Pathoda Village in Maharasthra India – has experienced miracles.

And while there yesterday I was privileged to witness three of them.

The first and most astounding happens nightly in a small corrugated iron house in this remote village. Here there is an altar dedicated to the late Satya Sai Baba where there are several big photographs of the holy man. When one of Sai Baba’s photographs suddenly began to produce copious amounts of vibhuti (holy ash) each night, the humble home was dedicated to the Master – and the family moved to another small place nearby. From that time, the small house, little more than a shed – became a shrine to Sai Baba and regular Bhajans (sacred singing) are held there.

Yesterday as we visited on our Road Trip for Water I saw for myself the clear evidence of the vibhuti almost covering the photograph of Sai Baba. There was plenty of it in a bowl as well, placed in front of the photo, freely available to any who wished to connect with it. During the lifetime of Satya Sai Baba this grey powdery holy ash used to fall from his hands.

This was the first miracle.

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Drinking Tea at the Sai Baba Miracle House

The second involves water.

Two years ago – Sankalpa Rural Development Society did some work with recharging the dried up bore wells in the village. This work was funded by the Satya Sai Baba Trust, so also carried the blessing of Sai Baba. Sikandar Meeranayak of SRDS carried out the implementation of his technology together with some labourers and villagers.

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The second bore well sprang to life

They worked on an almost dry bore well within the compound of the local Hindu Mandir (temple) and directed the rooftop rainwater run off through piping to channel it into an existing bore well. The village area has little rain, but what did come went directly into the aquifer below the ground through the bore well recharge. Until that time, the villagers relied on erratic water supply and expensive tanker water during the dry hot summer months.
There are 7000 people in this village – and today 1000 of those people are supplied by this now fully flowing bore well and here is the miracle.. just outside the fence – a second totally dried up bore well suddenly sprang to life – recharged by the very same system from the first bore well.

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Village kids checking the fish in the holding pond

Another nearby bore well was also implemented with a recharge system – but until now the people have had no need to use that water – even though it brims close to the top as there is plenty from the first two which are producing well.

Close by, just outside the village of Bharangou a third bore well next to a small river was also recharged. This was done with the help of a check dam on the stream and is a briliant success giving heaps of water and the recharge has even affected the three nearby bore wells which began to produce much more water than before.

A miracle?  I certainly thought so!

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The miracle baby calf.

And now for the third miracle.

This pure white calf just born appeared as a miracle to me – so sweet – so quiet, so clean. Is it not true that all babies born are miracles in their own right?

Pathoda – the village of miracles!

Evolution – or re-volution cometh – as it must…

I am taking the liberty of offering these words of wisdom from a friend and exceptionally well informed and thoughtful person Vishwanath Srikantaiah.  His writing and photography documenting the situation with the water crisis here in India is profound – please read and comment if you wish.  The facebook link to his photographs which accompany the  original post is here.

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He said:

A way of life ends. It does so sometimes subtly, sometimes brutally . Rural India as I see it is in profound crisis. There is great hunger even now. Land reforms never really took off and much of the people are therefore landless labourers and small farmers. Especially in the states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh , Madhya pradesh, Chattisgarh, Rajasthan and West Bengal. There is no living to be made in small farming and none whatsoever for landless labourers. NREGA (Government scheme for employing labour in the rural sector) was a salve and just that. The only escape route is the city , de-humanising, brutal and insensitive but all the young men have left , the young women will follow and the children too. Brazil went from 30 – 70 urban rural mix to 80-20 in about 30 years.

China is following perhaps not at the same pace and India too will follow. The industrialization-urbanization-make in India model , the 7.50 % GDP model.
Profound inequity, wealth in the hands of a few, ecological degradation , scarce resources and even scarcer opportunities , great swathes of people are moving – out of Syria, Libya , Yemen , Iraq, Afghanistan to avoid war brought about by either water as a resource running out or too much oil.

In India , the movement is relatively peaceful yet not as brutal. 40 million or thereabouts displaced by dams, mining and so it goes. Then the great dependence on groundwater. 33 million bore-wells pumping out 250 cu.km. of groundwater , reaching depths of 2000 feet . When groundwater runs out , farming is simply impossible. Now the fight over river waters …inexorable the lure of the city and the desperation of the village.
Here are people, technologies and water struggling to remain relevant . In a span of 24 years liberalization of the economy has done what 5000 years of history had not done. The changes are profound and searing . We must get our cities to become more welcoming to the people who will arrive mostly in distress , mostly without a safety net , mostly working in the informal sector, mostly occupying slums .

There are 3 people whose idea of India is under test Gandhi, Nehru and Ambedkar. Gandhiji is losing . It is an Ambedkar victory through and through. (http://www.allresearchjournal.com/archives/2016/vol2issue6/PartF/2-6-32-147.pdf )

Nostalgia is not what it used to be.


When I read his post I cried.

Is that helpful? No – I do not believe so.. but emotion is a real response and frankly unless at some point we feel the situation deeply enough to elicit tears, we are unlikely to act.  As Spiritual Teacher Andrew Harvey has said – out of heartbreak is born: “Sacred Activism – the fusion of the deepest mystical knowledge, peace, strength, and stamina with calm focused and radical action”.

My personal sacred activism takes the form of Service to Mother Earth and in particular that of bringing water.  This work has arisen from heartbreak as I looked around me with clear eyes and began to see what is really happening on our beautiful planet.

The heartbreaks do not stop – they come in waves – and will continue to do so until such time as we wake up and together initiate profound change in the way we treat our world and our neighbours and those who are members of this vast sea of humanity – all who are our brothers and sisters.

There are times when I feel the desperation of how may it ever be possible to stem the tide of the take-over by the corporations and the greedy and the manipulation of our lives at all levels – and I ask that painful question: “Why am I bothering to do what I do? What is the point of these infinitesimal actions against the power and the strength of those who would swallow our freedoms?” –  but deep inside me I know that each small action can initiate a ripple that spreads we know not where.  So I keep on throwing the pebble into the proverbial pond and trust that what I have been asked to do has meaning beyond all that I see.

So too I ask of you – take heart – know that you are only asked to do what is possible – never more – and know also that when you are on purpose and are clear in your actions, your work has meaning and power far beyond that which you see.  Don’t stop, don’t give up – hold the hand of your friends seen and unseen and move forward in gratitude and trust.

Our planet may choose for us – but change will come – the pendulum must swing – the laws of the Universe (and physics) will not allow this state of imbalance and destruction for very much longer.  Stay awake – for the change is close at hand.

Another world is not only possible. She is on her way.  On a quiet day I can hear her breathing.
– Arundhati Roy

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The Music of Remembrance

The Mother under my feet wherever I may walk.  She is first – she supports me and holds me and feeds me.   What other path is possible but only to open my hands and my heart and to pour back the blessings upon her in whatever way I can.

For she is my Mother.

The ground that I walk may be strewn with the garbage of her people – those who do not yet see, who have forgotten they spit into the face of their Mother as they cover her breast with the ugliness of their life’s discards.

Is there a blame? No just a sleeping, a forgetting – so what of my job?

It is first to awaken myself and then to share the beauty and the pain of that awakening with my brothers and sisters who walk beside me on this stupendously magnificent Earth.

We the caretakers, forgot our purpose, the caretakers became misled, we lost our pathway and walked a highway of greed and self centred madness.

Play the music of remembrance today, sing the song of awakening, bring the instruments of delight out of their locked and velvet lined cases to stream the song of remembrance to those who sleep on into their nightmare of the loss of their Mother.

She will prevail
She will not fail
but her children, her caretakers?

It is time past time to awaken,
for our lives, for the love of our Beloved
Our Mother
Our Earth.

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World Environment Day

A day to honour and bless our Mother Earth.  To do good acts of loving kindness to all beings who walk on this Earth.  A day to remember the trees, remember the smallest of animals insects and organisms that support all life.  For without the infinitesimal the grand cannot exist.

Blessings on our Mother – blessings to all who walk on Her.

our new world coming

 

Arundhati Roy – a very favorite author of mine who tells it like it is – and writes stories that will break open your heart and bring you to a state of spiritual activism.

On this day open your heart to the breath of our Earth, the wind in the trees, the sounds of Nature that can move your heart and bring you into a deep connectedness – a place of knowing that we are all one.