Students from our 2nd year Well-being class travelled to India to discover more about Well-being from an India perspective. Here are some pictures from their trip.
The two-week trip to Mangalore, which is near the South-West coast of India, was quite an adventure. We had the wonderful company of two parents, Mr and Mrs Braswell and five girls from second year: The two Ninas, Alana, Danu and Johannah. It takes two days to reach the girls’ gurukula. ‘Gurukula’ literally means ‘family of the guru’. It is a boarding school with over 120 acres of forest and agricultural land growing a lot of its own food and teaching the ancient culture and wisdom for which India is renowned worldwide. We thought we would have less hot weather in January but the thermometer climbed to 37 degrees every day.
The girls’ first class was chanting universal prayers for 20 minutes from 7 a.m. such as ‘All be happy’. We just witnessed very devotional assemblies each morning from 7.30 to 8 run by the Indian students. As breakfast was rice based like every other meal, we organised bread for the girls. They learnt how to wash their newly acquired clothes each morning and tidied their room. They literally slept on a tiled floor in a spanking new building, which took some getting used to when you normally fall into a soft bed with a mattress.
Our girls did some farm-work most days for about half an hour like harvesting some fruit, feeding the cows, making brooms from palm leaves or doing some weeding. They also did some conversational Sanskrit, yoga exercise, chopping vegetables in the kitchen, dance and Rangoli art, which means pouring coloured sand on the floor to make symmetrical shapes and stick fighting for self-defence. It was quite a tough experience as the usual comforts are gone and the you have to get used to Indian vegetarian cooking, sitting on the floor, eating with your right hand, putting up with extreme heat, washing yourself from a bucket and try to maintain your composure. What makes up for all this is the loving and gentle company of the students and staff in the gurukula. We were showered with care and loving attention. Some highlights were visiting the park consisting of one giant Banyan tree full of monkeys, a daytrip to Sringeri and Prabodhini boys gurukula, some great conversations, visits to some stunning temples and an ashram, a noodle meal in Bangalore, a 4km walk around the grounds on a newly made perimeter path around the gurukula, getting a few giant grapefruits way up in some very tall trees and the performance from our girls on the last night. They really excelled themselves. If we take the extremely high level of wellbeing we experienced there as a yardstick, we could learn from it that being busy looking after guests, animals, plants and buildings gives a lot of satisfaction. Service of this kind guarantees pure joy. Secondly not to let yourself down by pouring your negative emotions on everyone must be quite new to western teenagers. We saw a school full of highly contented students from beginning to end. We also noticed that we run after children to make them happy in the West but there, children run after adults to make them happy. It was sometimes tough but overall an exotic and rewarding experience!