WWOOF-ing India Week 4: Life Lessons

The week started off with sweet farewells and a welcoming. It was time for Pettina and Alexa (the two American girls) to leave the farm and travel to Hyderabad to continue with school. And it was also time for the arrival of Tamarind Café’s Chef, Kaoru Kawabe.

To honor the occasion, we went for a Thali lunch at a local eatery in Arambol. On the opposite side of our lunch spot stands Krishna’s coconut stall, which also rents out bicycles. Seeing the bicycles got me thinking. The primary mode of transport in Goa is a rented motorcycle or your own private vehicle. Public transport, especially in Arambol, is erratic and one essentially should know how to drive or ride. But I don’t and I decided that it was time for that to change.

After much negotiation I got myself a pink ladybird bicycle with the seat lowered to its lowest capacity for my short self. After everyone dispersed from the eatery, I stood alone with my wheels. With no other viable option to transport me back to the farm, I walked back with the bicycle. With blisters on my feet after a 3 kilometer long walk, I took the second half of the day off to rub aloe vera to soothe the sores. In retrospect I realized that the entire week was all about lessons.

Photo by Jeremy Brooks https://flic.kr/p/Gqdyi

Lesson #1: Perseverance

My walk back would have probably been less painful had I worn shoes instead of slippers, but I didn’t foresee my judicious impulse to embark on this path of independence. “I feel so terrible that you had to walk back with these sores!” exclaimed Mel later that afternoon to which I almost instantaneously replied, “It’s alright, I’m taking these as life lessons.” And I did.

I wanted to give up at so many points as I walked back with the bulky bicycle, hoping that someone with would stop to help me, or even better, fly down with a helicopter to give me a lift. But after that long and arduous 90-minute walk, I was so relieved and ecstatic about being able to have made it back on my own without help. And that’s how one ought to make it happen in life too right? Always look for the light at the end of the tunnel — or in my case, the temple on the road beyond which (in a discreet right turn) lays the farm – without giving up.

A darling that she is, Mel took it up upon herself to teach me how to ride the bicycle and we had our sessions early in the morning before breakfast.

Lesson #2: Patience

Mel trimming the turmeric stalks (Photo Mahek Shringhey)

I feel like my threshold of patience has expanded — a hard virtue to expand normally. There were two instances that made me realize this.

The first was as we harvested turmeric and ginger. A pull of the long stalks from the ground revealed what looked like large clumps of mud and a vigorous shake made hardy orange and white nodes emerge from these muddy clumps. Mel and I were put to the job and told that all the dirt lodged in the sneaky crevices of the roots must be cleaned off and kept ready.

We first trimmed the stalks and gave the little beauties a wash, followed by another water bath. Sitting tight in a green basket in copious quantities, I begrudgingly wondered how we would manage to get the task done. But as we sat down and got to it, we got a little system going and even though it took a large part of the day, we managed to do it. A focused mind coupled with the fragrance of fresh turmeric and ginger enabled me to unburden myself with the weight of the job at hand, and instead, embrace and enjoy it.

The result of hard work never disappoints, and my sense of achievement at the end of any task has further reinforced my belief in the importance of being patient and perseverant.

Sam with his masterpiece (Photo Mahek Shringhey)

I also learnt this as I watched Sam work on a signboard. Mel and I were given old sign-boards from the garden to refurbish and new ones to paint. Mystically, that morning, as I washed the utensils, I read one of the hand-painted signboards and thought about how nice it would be to be able to make some of these and the next thing I know I had a whole lot of them to paint! As Mel and I got down and dirty with paint instead of mud, Sam took up a project of his own to make a sign board for the garden. But this wasn’t going to be an ordinary signboard.

Over a naked flame on the burner, he burned a large piece of wood and alternatively scrubbed and smoothened it in water to give it a beautiful shape and finish. He kept at it, diligently working till it matched ehatbhe had in mind. When he was finally happy with how it looked, he began to etch and chisel the name “Samata Organic Garden” in the same font that the retreat uses along with the logo. It took nearly 4 days to complete and turned out to be such a work of art! He relentlessly worked on it until he thought it was perfect.

Such patience in pursuit is truly commendable.

Lesson #3: Self-Assurance

Jazzed up sign boards (Photo Mahek Shringhey)

Although I was happy about the arts and crafts, I was hesitant, skeptical, and very sure that I would stuff things up and undermined my abilities. I hadn’t had a creative outlet in a while. But of course, with patience and perseverance comes guaranteed success. One board after another and with constant encouragement from Mel, my inhibitions vanished with each advancing stroke and soon enough we had a whole range of adorable, fun signboards with little illustrations and funky designs. Our work was appreciated by everybody and I ended the project with more confidence in my abilities than before. We even did some stone work on broken pieces of tiles and terracotta to make for a beautiful cacti arrangement.

These may seem like insignificant, random instances, but I believe that learning lessons like these and applying them in bigger situations that we face in life otherwise is what makes us truly victorious.

Fight the demons within you.

Signing off,
City Girl

Follow the rest of Mahek’s adventure:

Week 1: City Girl in a Farm World
Week 2: Bugs, Dung, and Darkness
Week 3: Growing Friendships & Plants
Week 5: Saying Good Bye

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About the Author

A 23 year-old city girl who wants nothing more than being able to eat without getting fatter, world peace and a pet pig. She is now on a mission to explore the depth of food in its full potential.