andreav's Travel Journals


  • Currently in Auroville, India

India, Spring 2011

A journal about my seventh return to this land called "India"; in an attempt to describe this "inter-vidual" experience with two other faculty, many students, and the time we share in an integrated living, being and learning semester.

Travel Part 1: The Coorg..

India Auroville, India  |  Mar 24, 2011
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Ethan, nine students, our fearless coordinator Segar and I, took off from Chennai on an overnight train to Mysore. For most it was their first time on the Indian Railways. We traveled 2nd class sleeper, with the families, and men most of  whom are not very accustomed to seeing twelve Americans in one place. We found our platform, and jumped into our bunks, and after some cards, and joking, we settled down and went to sleep for the night to the tune of the steel bumping against steel, the clanging of the railway, and the tune of hawkers selling snacks and chai along the way.

After being picked up in Mysore, or favorite driver, Shiva was waitiing with our bus. We boarded and drove many hours to the Western Ghats, an area called the "Coorg". This area is higher in elevation, so that it creates a rainshadow, and is a perfect tropical environment for coffee, and spices. Our destination is a place called Honey Valley, the name a remnant of a bygone area of honey producing in that valley. Now coffee, shade grown, and organic is the biggest crop. But the people there are three generations, living in relationship with the land there. And the coffee is delicious.

When we arrived, everything was dry and small fires were ablaze up in the hills. We were set on doing our overnight "solos" and i was worried about the extreme dryness, and fire potential. Well, that as it turns out, was beyond what i needed to worry about.

We walked up the little mountian in silence, found our spots to spend the next 48 hours, and set up our camps. When everyone was settled, we came back together as a group, and said our farewells, as we would be apart, in silence, for the duration of the solo experience. OUr mini-vision quest abruptly came to a brief halt when the storm rolled in that afternoon. Lightining and thunder reminded us that we were not the most important influence in that area at that time. We gathered together in the storm with our raingear, and tarps. Huddling in a grove of trees somewhere safer than the ridgeline. After the storm blew through, the sun came out and dried out most of the wetness. It was the perfect combination of excitement and sun ratio to make this an adventure, and the next day, we were prepared. 

The nights were cool and breezy and the last night the stars were brilliant in the clear sky. Being alone in the stillness of the night, yet knowing that there are people around who could come to my aid at anytime when needed brings a sense of safety to fully emerge oneself in the experience, whatever comes up.

Our group came back together after the 48 hours alone, (minus the first shower), with new stories, new feelings, a step into areas that they may not have known. We walked down in silence, and saved the storytelling until after dinner. A full cycle complete, full, we ate laughed, and learned from each other.

SOlo Hiku

Misty afternoon of green hills

and thunder

Rain, winds, harsh

and gentle mist.

Hanging wet clothes

become dry clothes;

a gift.

Solo sitters in the mountains wonder

Why? or Why not?

among soft clouds and thorns.

Birds chriping for

heavenly sweet smells

hars and gentle mist.

Its safe ants,

you can come out now.

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