As i looked at 4pm in my newly bought watch in Koyna express from Nira, a tiny village in the outskirts of Pune city, enroute to Mumbai, exhausted with my days work in our (My dad's and mine) village dental clinic, i checked inside what i was feeling. Mixed feelings of exhaustion and laziness, excitement and anticipation were brewing inside me!!! Hey, here i was, off to the much awaited event, "A Walk to Remember" for which i had registered just 5 days back. Gazing outside my window, past the trees, shrubs and into the slowly-moving clouds, i was thinking back to my sudden decision of joining this event. It was just last Saturday, i was enjoying with my family when a voice inside me said, "How wonderful would it be if i go for this event!!!" Next day i registered!!! Extempore decisions make you question, "Was it me who took this step or was it the greater intelligence flowing in everything in the world, that did it for me...?"And the words just poured from my mind right into the group of "the walk" as if they were rain, I wrote...
"A Walk to Remember"
Is it a walk though the woods,
Or sunshine pouring between the leaves,
I am ready with ear-to-ear smiles and my own goods,
Drawing excitement and curiosity up my sleeves...
I am going to meet all new and old friends,
Whom i have lost on the way,
Connect with them tribe's trends,
Capturing the trees mid-sway...
Its going to be a walk to remember for sure,
And we will return with gifts priceless pure!!!"
I was just answering some calls from our dental clinic back in Pune, which is my permanent residence, when my phone buzzed and i got a message on the group, that read, from Lokaa foundation,
"The sky is rumbling,
The trees are rustling,
Nature is singing,
We are hyped for the walk and so is nature. She awaits you with graceful rains!!
Please prepare accordingly"
Oh my, I had not taken an umbrella!!! But then looking at my luggage, i decided to get wet if it rains, all the merrier for me!!!
Getting down on Thane platform, me and my dad got into the local train, then the metro and finally reached Mumbai airport to catch the flight. As i walked towards my seat, and sat down in the flight, i looked around at the elegant and comfy seats. After 1.5 hours, pilot announced our landing, and i looked up puffy-eyed into the night sky out my window over the wings, then at my watch which read, 1am.
We were joined by Arjun Selva, mid-way, enroute towards Ekam from Chennai airport in our taxi. All three of us had a chat about how we (our family) were with Ekam movement since 23 years, i was a 5 year old kid back then, which means I have been born with Oneness Movement, brought up in Ekam and have grown with Ekam!!!... I got to know that Arjun too was a sevak for quite some time, now.
We bid my dad adieu for he would be in Turiya campus as he would be attending "Ekam Anubhava", a 2-day course in Ekam. Lokaa foundation volunteer welcomed me and Arjun and we went to our respective dormitories, knowing fully well that we would be getting a limited sleep. Waking up after an hour which felt like 15 minutes, (Napoleon Bonaparte-ish feeling, it was), i dreamily got ready to get dressed. After breakfast, we left for Santoshpuram. Looking around, getting friendly with villagers, having an online chat with Lokaa, founder, we finally arrived at the starting point of our "Walk". Acharya Anandgiriji briefed us about how Krishnapuram the village we were going to walk towards, between 4 forests, Nirutti, alli, bilba, someda, is convinced that it is not just a village, but an idea, an idea that can change the outlook of the world towards sustainable world villages, among the world village project of Lokaa foundation.
Having had a sumptuous meal in the undergrowth, I rested for sometime with Laxmi, Saumya, Yash, Akhil and others, watching the trees, clicking photos through the canopy...Our party marched forward through the most frequented forest floor, behind our leader, Acharyaji, treading 14 odd kms of stones, leaves and sand in the wilderness. Amusing stories of bears and other animals hung in the air, narrated by the always-enthusiastic Anandagiriji.
Finally we could see the laterite rocks, 9 in a row, magnificently perched on a pedestal like deities, and the last one bearing a logo of lokaa foundation. Greetings by the sarpanch and her husband, merged with those of happy kids and lead us through to the temple inside the village Krishnapuram. Walking on the roads constructed by villagers themselves, with the same revered stones, we visited the lush meadows behind the temple. The sight of a huge lake took our breath away, and we loitered about it for a while.
A group of village women taught us how a face mask made of soap nut and multani mitti is made and we strutted away showing it off plastered on our face. I then found myself dancing non-stop like crazy with the village ladies, God knows for how much time...? 1hr? No, 2? Putting all lights off, we had a stargazing party, where each of us searched for our grandma in the skies. (If Earth is our mother, then stars are our grandma). I have put a version of my love towards mother earth in poetic words:
"Love Letters from the Moon to Darling Earth"
The moon fell in love with his dear earth, 🌙
And oh how he vowed to revolve around her, 🌎
"O my dearest darling,
I will get all the stars🌟 for u...
The mornings will have the sun with u,
But all your evenings are mine,
Do not compare the fiery red ball,
With my calm and cool shine...
Do not worry about the tides,
For i will move them on your body with my force,
You will see my love through their every crash,
Till your ears tire and my voice, hoarse..."
I will change my form every 14 days,
So u do not get bored of how i look,
Earthly beings will also celebrate Id and Karva Chauth,
Telling Stories of my love to you in every geography book 📖...
Am i not your true lover?
But u still have a soft spot for the sun's might,
Its unbearable for me so every now and then,
I will eclipse it from your sight...
I have even turned fair for you, 🌚
But you still revolve around the yellow burning stone, 🌞
But i will call from you the jumpsuit-clad people,👨🏼🚀🧑🏻🚀
To verify my love to you in flesh and bone!!!"
Right into dinner made all by the loving village ladies to welcome us was a plus (by the way, they all are a bunch of great cooks...i have not eaten such a delicious medu vada, not even anywhere in the suburb, i must say.) Just then, Mei jing taught me a new game of Ninja, which i will never forget. Had a couple of matches of the same game with village kids, we retreated to Ananada campus, our abode for the night.
Next day again saw us in Krishnapuram, playing with Tikki, the most famous dog in the village with coloured eyebrows. Learning to make mudblocks from earth and sand, we came to know that they make sustainable breathable homes which are automatic temperature control units themselves, if its hot outside, cooler inside and vice-versa. Imagine us living in breathable buildings but the cement and all artificial stuff that we use makes us imprisoned in a dead house which is not a home. How wonderful would it be if somehow all of us get such homes!
Lunch was followed by lessons on making leaf plates (group of village ladies had learnt it travelling all the way to Hyderabad), of which they have set up a small scale business. Women empowerment, indeed! To our pleasant surprise, we received a sovenir with some seeds of butterfly-calling flower plants and a photograph of some memory of Krishnapuram.
Till the end of the event, i didnt get a feeling, even once, that i was not a resident of the village. Such warmth and welcoming was that feeling of my experience here, as i have never experienced in the urban community that i live with. A couple of weeks have passed after i have returned home, but the memory of that place never fails to crease my face into a splitting smile... Tikki, he he.... or Varun, the guide... ha ha ha...
Here is a short compilation video of my experience at "Walk to Remember"
Information about the author-
Dr Nidhi Sunil Dev
From Pune, Maharashtra, India.
MDS Conservative Dentist and Endodontist (Root canal specialist)
B(Mus) Hindustani classical singing (Visharad)
Loves to make poetry, canvas and glass painting, voracious book reader enthusiastic guitar student