Insisting on Truth

According to their website’s home page the Janapada Seva Trust is “a voluntary organisation functioning in and around Melkote a mofussil town” [meaning rural and not originally part of the East India Company regions of Bombay, Calcutta, and Madras] ” in Mandya District of Karnataka, India since 1960. Inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and Sarvodaya philosophy the Trust has been striving to create a non-violent, egalitarian order of society. Its core area of work is welfare, education, rural industry, environment and agriculture.”

“Over the years the Trust has built a fine infrastructure for its activities. The accent of the Trust is on self-help and people’s involvement, the Trust seeks support not so much from the State as from people who care.”

We were told by it’s founder, Surendrah Koulagi, that it all began when a 10 year old boy learned about Ghandi’s Salt Satyagraha, or Salt March, that took place in 1930 as one of the first acts of a self-declared sovereignty from the British Empire by the Indian National Congress. When Mr. Koulagi began to understand the philosophy of non-violent civil disobedience, the power found in the action, and the simplicity of its message (“Satyagraha” is a synthesis of the Sanskrit words Satya (truth) and Agraha (insistence on)) he wondered what other important things could be accomplished by a simple insistence on the truth.
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Melkote

…or Melukote, or Narayanadri, or Vedadri, or Yadavadri, or Yathishaila, or Thirunarayanapuram. We were guided to this small town north of Mysore and west of Bangalore by friends who had visited many times in the past to support the work of the Janapada Seva Trust. Part of the Trust’s work involves organic agriculture, and I wanted to learn what that was like for them in a very different environment (not to mention the different crops) than Maine. In addition, Alison and I always enjoy visiting out-of-the-way areas when we travel to try to get a better feeling on what “normal life” looks like. Melkote, although beautiful in many ways and full of ancient wonders and important institutions, does not get the daily visits from tourists that a city like Mysore does. It does host a significant festival (Vairamudi) once a year attracting many people (hundreds of thousands according to Wikipedia), but perhaps primarily Indian and religious. Our hosts told us that Melkote attracted the odd backpacker every so often but that white visitors were still unusual.
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The sounds and fragrances of southern India

Eric is walking in the hills of Conoor in southern India. We stayed at “Acres Wild Farm” to learn about their cheese-making and cow dairy. On adjacent hillsides, tea plants are growing on terraced fields. We awoke to the sounds of (loudly broadcast) percussive singing from the local temple.

Eric walking to breakfast in the hills above Conooor, Tamil Nadu province in southern India

And I made a new friend…

Alison and "Spahti" the farm dog

Spahti, the farm dog of Tamil Nadu.

Taken For A Ride

*white* knuckle bus ride to Logan
A Literal WHITE Knuckle Ride From Portland to Logan Airport Monday En Route To The Tropics

Yes, I *know* that it’s SO annoying to hear that Eric and Alison are traveling to some exotic location to learn about exotic food. Again. That said, most of you have heard that Alison was selected as an artist in the US State Dept. Arts Envoy Program and sent to Doha, Qatar to spend a week teaching painting. THAT will have to be the subject of another possible set of posts by Alison — I’ve seen only the photos she’s been emailing around, and occasional TXTs checking-in. Her trip brought her within an easy flight of India, which triggered my suggestion to finally have a look at The Jewel.

On Thursday Alison will leave Doha on a direct flight to Bengaluru/Bangalore (local/English names which appear here interchangeably (admittedly I’ve stuck to the western friendly areas so far) but I will call it Bangalore from now on) to join me on yet another food adventure. We will spring-board from this new MegaTechCity to the West through Karnataka toward the intersection with Kerala and Tamil Nadu states at the paint drip end of the Indian sub-continent.

I have just arrived after quite an incredible journey (from the perspective of how a modern system of amazing logistics in the era of terrorists targeting travelers operates more or less efficiently) from Boston through London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 Habitrail then on through the night to land in Bangalore where my fun “Welcome To India” story begins…
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Spring, Maine Style

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POSTSCRIPT: Yesterday the “Nor’Easter Bomb” went off farther out into the ocean that had been initially predicted, so we got ONLY the wind (not the snow) from it: steady 30 mph winds with gusts up to 50 mph…which has “settled down” this morning to 15 to 25 mph winds, while the thermometer read 2 degrees.

The Ice Storm Cometh

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This was all supposed to leave by 9am Sunday…it continues to add ice as of now at 10am Monday, and they say it may not clear out until tonight…or later…

Our power went out yesterday around 3pm but came back on at 7pm…it’s now begun to flicker again, and if it goes out it could stay out for a while given how wide the iced area seems to be. We will have light and heat without grid power but we have stored as much water as possible in buckets and jars…the cows drink about 30 gallons a day…

Day 2
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