& the wheat has started to flower. A very happy new year to all. Old calendars have been removed from the walls & new ones have been put up. Incidentally, one of my favourite calendar has based its theme this year on “Maati “- the soil. So many inspiring thoughts in it…. it reminds us that soil signifies life, ecology, our roots. It reminds us that the soil is in turmoil today, it asks us can we sustain the soil ?

My favourite quote is from Bahinabai Chaudari (1880 -1951)

Oh, What affection the earth has

Oh, it is boundless

All the bellies there are in the world

She has reserves to feed them all…

Then another one from Ustad Daman (1911 – 1984)

What we share in this world

can never remain hidden

It has come from the soil and

will return to the soil one day

Then Baba Farid (1173 – 1265)

Insult not the soil

The soil has no match

Under our feet till we breathe,

Above us when we breathe our last……

Then Bulleh Shah (1680 – 1748)

The soil is in ferment

The soil is up in arms against soil

Weapons get made of soil

Mortals that have more soil on them

Strut about with swollen pride…

In the New Year, we had a friend Lahar come over to advise us on what materials to choose for our building, since we would like to use as much less cement as possible, avoid bricks if possible, and yet have a design that is simple & aesthetic. One possibility was to make a house from soil that is on the land itself….. a mud house, but in the end we decided to use Laterite stone that is available locally within a distance of 3 kms.

Lahar also gave us more ideas about alternate energy systems & we are seriously exploring a Solar/ wind combination. Various companies in Pune have given us estimates etc, now we are waiting to see some places where these things actually work.

The New Year also brought in another piece of good news. Friends (Preetee & Ashwin) who had first introduced me to Velhe have also found a nice piece of land just 1km from me & hopefully everything will be finalised by the end of this month. It’s actually great news & i look froward to meeting them often, & working on their fields & sharing many a meal together.

Hope 2011 will be good for all of you….

bye !