Category Archives: Mother Earth

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.

Contributing to the Community

I saw a doco about a man who paints on walls.. he painted in Vanuatu and there he contributed to the community. He painted a wall in a very obscure place – far from the tourist walks. He paints big walls in big cities, but this small contribution warmed his heart and here he understood the value of small.

I know a lady her name is Barb – she lives in South Freo.. she is the Queen of her street and she contributes to her community. She welcomes all the newcomers and corrects the spelling on the street signs. She makes a difference.

Sometimes we think we have to do great things – but in fact it is the ‘small things’ that add up to all the community faces joined together in a kaleidoscope of connection.
The street gardens, the soup kitchens, the one who simply refuses the plastic bag and so awakens the check out person to the possibility of a sustainable land. Making a difference.

People say to me.. ‘Oh you are so amazing.. you give up so much to go to India to do your work there.’ And me.. I shrug my shoulders and I am grateful that I am recognised for what I do.. for if I was not .. I would be not telling the truth.. but I know that what I do is no more than what you also do in your own way as you walk in beauty in this world.

For this is what the game is.. what the aim is ..
what the purpose is..
simply to walk in beauty as we do our daily life.

So India.. what is that about for me?
How can I tell you the joys it brings, the difficulty it is to be there sometimes, the special moments – the smile of the old lady where I buy my evening banana – the stares of those who wonder what on earth this old lady is doing in their land.

I often ask myself:  “What am I doing here?”
And the answer is that here is my heart. A split heart I have. One heart – part of it… is embedded deep in my family and my lover and my friends in Fremantle Australia.. but the other part .. somehow an older part – is in India.

I board the plane – leaving from Perth – stop over usually in Kuala Lumpur.. not there yet.. but when the next flight comes – and we are heading to Bangalore – at least half of the passengers are Indian.. and suddenly I am feeling almost home. Home to this place where I don’t even speak the language.. home to this place where I need to change my dress entirely to fit – home to this place – this place of simplicity and complexity and a culture far from my own.

Touch down.. I am back – the smells wash over me, the sound, the chaos, and the knowing that I am home. I haggle with the taxi driver, and I get ripped off anyway because that is par for the course on your first night in India. Ah the over night hotel… fortunately I know this one and it is reasonably clean.. I sleep – I wake to Indian breakfast – spicy dosa and milky tea. And the journey begins.

I will spend the day with my friend in Bangalore -she will feed me delicious food, thinking as she does I must be half starved after being away from proper Indian food for so long.. and tonight board the overnight bus to Hubli.. my place of choice. A dusty and noisy three tier town as they call it.. meaning simply .. ‘not too developed!’ Here are the ‘boys’ I work with .. a very male oriented office.. the NGO .. not for profit – working with farmers .. helping them harvest rainwater to ensure they can remain on their land for another season provided there is some monsoonal rains this year.

It is uncertain times – those who talk of global warming being a myth do not live in rural India. There is no question of it here. Where changing weather patterns are bringing disaster to families – to whole villages left without any water to drink in the long hot dry season. Creating a migration equivalent to those of war torn lands.. a migration to the city in search of elusive jobs.

But that is another story – and yes it is the story I follow with my work – but the day to day of my life in Hubli is that of connection with the young men who are dedicated to this work. The work of the water.

We joke, we laugh, we chatter and we drink chai and in between we write budgets and discuss heatedly how things should or could be done. I try to step back out of my bossy western ways and listen and fit my thoughts together with those of the Indian way.

Sometimes it works, sometimes I help, sometimes the western way tempered with some patience – adds some value and sometimes I have to step right back and re- look at the way I am .. at my impatience and sense of ego! For sometimes that is really what it is.. “I am the one who is working here.. I am the one who can focus and get things done.. you lot simply mess around and don’t really know what you are doing .. and read the paper and talk endlessly on the phone.. but I am the one who is working” … ha ha ha ha…

Yes Shazar .. and they are the ones who started all this.. who know because they are the ones who lived in the village .. who understand what it is to have no water.. who know how it is to be unable to send their children to school for lack of the money for a notebook and pencil. They are the ones who understand the value of community ..
not you..

You who come from the land of more is better – the land where often people will walk past you on the street with their noses down – not a glance for the ‘stranger’. And so once again I step back into my ‘box’ breathe – and thank the forces who have brought me to this land again – for I have been here many lives – but this life it is the time to learn again what is humility – what is gratitude, what is giving, what is true generosity, for this is what India has to share with me.

And finally to understand the value of the small things that are scattered throughout the day stitching this life together to make a difference.

 

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.

farmer-house


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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Been Wandering

I’ve been around and back again – doing my annual wander with my Soul Journey friends – this year the journey was called Ancient Masters – Modern Prosperity and we went to Italy and Greece.

But first we did an incredible cooking class in a Tuscan Villa – what a gift that was and especially for me as I had the opportunity to revisit my ability with Italian – talking to the chef! That was fun and very surprising for me that I recalled as much as I did.  But the brain is strange as once I got into the groove of it suddenly I could understand so much more.. and when I first entered the kitchen in the morning – there was nothing there! Go figure how do our brains really work?

img_0490-smallAfter those days we met with the rest of the group and started the adventure – Rome – Vatican – Pompeii – Amalfi Coast – but it wasn’t until we reached Athens and visited the Poseiden Temple perched high up on the cliffs that I really entered the Soul of the Journey.

poseiden-templeBeing in Greece we were immensely fortunate to have a guide who had a real understanding of the difficulty that the people there are facing in this time.  She clearly enunciated a saga of attack on their economy and their way of life – orchestrated by those in power who would create a One World Order and chip away at our rights and lives.  It distressed me greatly to hear the depth to which this has gone in Greece – and to see as she was telling her story – that this was a plan that encompassed all of us, not just the Greek people but also those of us living in the so-called Lucky Country of Australia.

But I have to say that as the journey progressed and we were shown the glories of the past of Greece that it seems to me that this spirit that the Greek people have shown so many times in the past can rise again. Seeing their triumphs and their glorious acheivements only serves to show the resilience of our Spirit and the possiblity that we have to be strong in the face of any and all adversity.

So I would call on us all to open our eyes, and look truthfully at what is happening in our own lands, make the stand for freedom in all respects, and be very aware of the insidious means of control that is being perpetrated on us all.   Turn off your tv, cancel the daily newspaper, don’t get sucked in to the fear mongers and the nay sayers.  Let’s live our lives and take a lesson from the wondrous spirit of the ancient culture of Greece and hold the hands of their famous and all powerful Gods as we walk into our future with our heads held high.

 I stand for freedom and for being a Citizen of this incredible Planet Earth – and for building our community at a local level so we may have friends to support our vision.  Will you stand with me?

 

On Country – off grid

On Country
One word – connected

What privilege to take three days out and go bush with a revered aboriginal elder – Uncle Noel Nannup.  To see through the eyes of one so connected.  The signs are everywhere but we have been blind.

Morning Moss

We walk through the bush – here the scratchings of a small animal

Here mounds left by a burrowing creature now extinct but still the signs of where they lived  including the story of how the people prepared the area so they could easily catch them as they were prized for food.  The special shaped stone – good for tying the snare.  The Minarritchie tree planted because its roots were long and stringy and perfect for making the twine for the snare.  These things still here, still showing the history.

The footprint of Waitch (emu) on the hillside at York – signs from the Dreamtime story of creation of this area.

Women’s business – softly, respecting, treading lightly – awe raining down on me – cloaking me in gratitude for the moment of sight.

GIving away pride, rubbing it into the earth – sweeping the love over the negative stamping it into the ground.

I have been gifted with solitutude, with space – with ancient connection to the peace inside.

The quiet seeps into my soul spreading deeply blowing the debris of unimportant things away with the wind.

morning frost