It is almost unreal, the experience of being happy in a place with no fans and with temperatures soaring over 30 degrees. Where the idea of taking a bath involves nothing less than a ten-minute exercise to find a shower space, fill water and figure a corner for your towel. Where getting one’s hands dirty is taken way too literally and where insects and reptiles find me the real intruder.
This is Sadhana; a whole different world.
Entrance to the wonderland. Sadhana Forest is a water conservation and reforestation project near Pondicherry.
Mopeds and bikes are what volunteers use to get in and out of the forest.
The 3-step dish-washing system saves time and up to 30-40 litres of water every day. Photo credit: Tintu Saleem
The dormitory houses about 40 volunteers.
Romy, my favourite wake-up caller. I just never hit snooze on her beautiful morning song.
Strumming a few beautiful melodies to ‘gather all the children of the earth and sun’ once she is done waking up the sleeping.
Binna Choi, a globetrotter and long-term volunteer with Sadhana, calling all sleepy heads to the morning circle.
The morning circle where everyone gathers around to stretch and truly wake up.
Louise from Holland, who loves to live amidst nature, cannot imagine her life without travel.
Kamilla, from the Faroe Islands on her first trip to India.
Peggy, a graphic designer from Taiwan. Language is no barrier for her when it comes to being warm and affectionate.
The Sadhana morning hugs.
And the one big Sadhana hug.
Saplings, waiting their turn to be planted. Photo credit: Tintu Saleem
Paul and Shehaab digging pits to plant new trees.
Hans, a student of water conservation, is at Sadhana to learn their techniques. He is seen here carrying wicks to be used for irrigation.
Laurent, the Frenchman in a lungi, is a true friend of the Forest. He is seen here bringing saplings from the nursery to the forest.
Hans, bringing water from the mud pool to water the saplings.
Beauty and Tintu, planting their first ever tree in the Forest.
Beauty, a student at JNU, is at Sadhana to experience a different way of life.
After a long day in the sun, Laurent decides to take a banana break.
Josh from the UK is a farmer at heart and has been volunteering across the globe for some time now.
Eli from Israel, working on dry mulch for the trees.
Josh and Eli adding dry compost to the newly planted trees.
Crookie, the puppy with the crooked tail and a resident of the Forest.
The kitchen. Photo credit: Tintu Saleem
Suman, the eccentric chef and globetrotter, whose dream in life is to travel the world on his cycle. He is currently responsible for the delicious food served at the Forest.
Suman directing the volunteers in the kitchen.
Firewood used for the kitchen stove.
Aalaap is a software engineer, consumed by the Forest. He has quit the luxuries of urban life and now dedicates his time to the Forest.
Aalaap, sawing firewood for the kitchen.
Emmy, from New York. Sadhana is her first stop on a one-way ticket trip to India.
Peggy and Emmy making wicks out of plastic bottles meant to be used in the irrigation process.
After a long day’s work, volunteers find respite in the Forest’s own, natural mud pool.
Musical instruments that liven up the forest. Photo credit: Tintu Saleem
Amitai, who lives at Sadhana with his parents and two siblings. Originally from Israel, the family has been a part of the Forest for a long time now.
Greg and Amitai put up a show at the Non-Talent Night, a one-of-a-kind show that volunteers put together every Wednesday evening, post-dinner.
Jasmine and her family put up a fine show at the Non-Talent night.
Relaxing with songs at the Non-Talent night.
Text and photos by
Sukrit Nagaraj. Edited by Tintu Saleem.
Read more about Sadhana Forest