Varanasi is a hectic city, many Indian tourists on a spiritual holiday. Every day of the year it is a mad-house, but during Indian holidays it supposedly gets even more crazy. I tried to avoid the crowd:
Volunteering at the Ganga Learning Centre
My last day in Varanasi I decided to volunteer at a school nearby. The project is amazing: they educate children, but also their mothers – the mothers learn how to sew for six months after which they are able to work and earn money so that they can send their child(ren) to school. The children, after attending the Ganga Learning Centre, will by then be ready to attend a regular school as they have learned much at the centre.
The children start the day off with a yoga class, then they study English and Hindi before having lunch. At the end of the day they have a Skype session with a ‘Granny’ via the Granny Project – most of these elderly women from the UK are retired teachers. I was lucky to meet the founder of the project and one Indian ‘Granny’ who were visiting the day I volunteered.
It was so much fun playing with the children and pointing out where Holland or the Netherlands is on the globe – they didn’t find this too confusing; their city Varanasi is also named Beneras or Kachi (city of spiritual light)
Breakfast in Varanasi
Every morning I spent a few hours in Varanasi walking around the Old Town and the main road searching for fruit stands.
Eventually I would have accumulated and devoured many fruits: bananas, oranges, pomegranate juice, fresh coconut, watermelon, papaya, sugarcane juice and grapes.
After my short visit in Mumbai and saying good-bye to my Swiss friends I headed to an eco-farm just outside of Mumbai. Here you can sleep under the stars, or in a room with large open spaces in the walls. The construction of the farm is mainly made with cow dung (cow poo). Everything is organic/recycled/local/sustainable. The owner Hament wants to create the largest fruit forest around the farm together with the tribals that live in the acres around the farm.
The food you consume here is mainly raw – lots of fruit, the staff of girls cook great food on the ash stove which doesn’t overheat the food.
Besides living healthfully on the farm, Hament (Bobby) also talks with you about life & nature & spirituality. You feel instantly at home here.
Some photos of the farm & activities (sorry about my poor phone quality photos):
“I shall work for an India in which the poorest shall feel that it is their country, in whose making they have an effective voice, an India in which there shall be no high class and low class of people, an India in which all communities shall live in perfect harmony… There can be no room in such India for the curse of untouchability or the curse of intoxicating drinks and drugs… Women will enjoy the same rights as men… This is the India of my dreams.” – M.K. Gandhi
Confession of an error is like a broom that sweeps away dirt and leaves the surface cleaner than before.
A clean confession, combined with a promise never to commit the sin again, when offered before one who has the right to receive it, is the purest type of repentance.
A man who has broken with his past feels a different man. He will not feel it a shame to confess his past wrongs, for the simple reason that these wrongs do not touch him at all.
A sinner is equal to the saint in the eye of God. Both will have equal justice, and both an equal opportunity either to go forward or to go backward. Both are His children, His creation.
A saint who considers himself superior to a sinner forfeits his sainthood and becomes worse than the sinner who, unlike the proud saint, knows not what he is doing.
Still in Mumbai – today my Swiss friends and I are going to Gandhi’s home/museum! It’s also time for me to figure out my next steps. Probably Varanasi, or an eco-farm outside of Mumbai. Choices, choices! More later when I have a better internet connection.
Another night bus. This time from Goa to Mumbai. I’m joining my Swiss friends and meeting more Swiss people here. will be there for a couple of days before heading up north. I will probably go to Varanasi first. More yoga, more temples!
This sugarcane juice is amazing, they add ginger and lime: