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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Life at Adharshila

The full post with more intricate details & more snaps can be read at http://sameersampat.blogspot.com/

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Been at Adharshila for 6 weeks and they have already started poking fun of my pensiveness here (they also sell these pretty cool greeting cards as a fundraiser that you can see and read about here) There is a lot to write about and not much time on the net, so I'll let the pictures do most of the talking.

My Daily Schedule (though schedules at Adharshila can be changed at any minute for a variety of reasons)

5:00am-7:00am Yoga and meditation in a most serene environment. Its worth being here just for these 2 hours everday, starting meditation under a blanket full of stars and ending yoga as the sun rises. Some of the kids who have the motivation to wake-up early do so. Oddly enough, its a different group of 3 or 4 everyday.

7:00am-8:00am Teach a math class to kids studying for the 10th standard exams.

8:00am-10:00am Farming time! I can't say that I have mastered anything, but I have dabbled in a few aspects of farming. I've been involved in mulching, planting, adding fertilizer (made of plants, i.e. natural) and picking vegetables. I've taken to the ghethi (pick axe - pictured below) as it feels like productive work that also helps build muscles (which I need). Much of my gethi work is towards some pretty interesting experiments we are trying to level our plots and run-off areas to maximize soil and water retention.

10:00am-11:00am Teach a math class for kids in the 6th or 7th to boost their confidence with numbers. I play alot of math games with the kids, it makes for a nice "rest" after the work in the farm.

11:00am-1:00pm Cook and eat lunch. I have the option of eating in the mess with the kids, but I am keen on learning how to cook, so Amit and Jayshree suggested that the best way to learn is just jump straight into it and cook your own meals. Having to sustain on what what Mahalaxmi and I cook has been great motivation to improve our cooking skills. Our lunch consists of daal and rice. Dinner of roti and shubjzi. I've gotten decent at making those 4 items, although part of the reason that our food tastes good to us is that we usually end up pretty hungry by meal times. The biggest kick for me is being able to go out to our farm and pick some fresh palak (spinach) to put into our daal!

1:00pm-2:15pm Teach the whole 6th and 7th standard math. Over this past week this group has been put into self-learning mode. Basically each student was asked what they wanted to learn and they individually came up with a list of things like juggling, about America, music, organic farming, etc. Later they were guided to create a timetable for their da so that they can learn what the set out to learn. Eventually they are to check-in with one of the adults update us on their progress.

A few things we have kept "compulsory" for these kids, one of which is my math class, with is now shortened to 1:00-1:45p. But most kids had math on their list and I think they enjoy the class. Somedays after my class, Jayshree teaches a class on the basics of organic farming to the kids interested which I sit in on.

2:25pm-3:30pm Break, shower, wash clothes, clean room, etc.

3:30p-4:30p Teach math to the student teachers. The older kids at Adharshila have a lot of responsibility and really do a good job taking leadership of this place. Most older kids are teaching the younger while also independantly studying (i.e. self-stuyding) for their own exams. They also look over much of the day-to-day maintainence of the ashram. I'm pretty impressed by much of this group.

4:30pm-5:30pm Play time for the students. I've used this time to play cricket, read, talk with folks or learn some Bareli songs from the kids. With cricket, the kids have my weakness. I can't hit the "low ball", a ball that bounces in a patch of dirt and thus doesn't come high off the ground. Def. a speciality ball only used on our pitch. Last week I taugt the kids a modified version of baseball which they thought was odd but enjoyed.

5:30p-6:30p Shramdaan - all the kids at ashram are involved in some sort of physical work, generally cleaning or farming. I usually join in on work based on how tired I am. If I am looking for a workout, I try to pick axe. Otherwise its usually picking leaves for mulching.

6:30p - onwards Cook and eat dinner. A few nights we have used this time to have meetings to discuss math curriculum that we hope to build over the next year. Otherwise, if I have energy, I'll engage in conversations with people at the ashram, Jayshree, Amit, Mahalaxmi, Badri Bhai, Devika Ben, Yatin, the kids. Sometimes these conversations take pretty philisophcial turns and end past midnight, usually because I end up questioning the heck out of the people here, esp. Amit and Jayshree, mainly for my own clarity on the direction of my life. Luckily the seem to not mind me keeping them up. At least they haven't said anything yet ;-)

And to end it, I hadn't shaved for the past 6 weeks (out of laziness) and grew a pretty gnarely beard.