The Earth on a Plate (Melkote)

The Janapada Seva Trust in Melkote, Karnataka, India educates and nurtures around 70 local handicapped and healthy chilren. The emphasis is not on educating them so they can get good jobs and earn plenty of money, but to be successful in day-to-day life.

When I arrived, most of the children were staying at the Trust’s farm 7km away from the village, and so had no school classes to attend. Instead the project that everyone was working on, was to fill an extremely large dip in the driveway with dirt, stones, rocks and boulders … and without using a wheelbarrow! Of course, since I was being fed and accommodated for several days I lent a hand. Unfortunately I wasn’t very good at balancing large bowls of earth on my head, so I ended up being a boulder-extractor and chief-lifting-bowls-onto-children’s-heads person. The last role was quite fun, as I got to know almost everyone. I was however I little weary of putting large slabs of quite heavy rock onto some kids’ heads, but they all happened to be much stronger than they looked, and happily scuttled away with the load on a cushion above their head.

It was while extracting one of the large boulders from the ground that a six-inch long (15cm for you Europeans out there) black scorpion crawled out of a crevice – a crowd gathered around, and everyone got excited as two children managed to loop a knot around its stinger and tie it to a tree like a dog … poor thing! Later that night I also came across a large hairy caterpillar under my bed – so it’s nice to get close to nature!

The next day the children were in school, so everything was a lot more relaxed! I had a very interesting conversation with Surendra about Mahatma Gandhi and Indian politics. Combined with later conversations with his son, Santosh, about the ills of western society and how an agricultral existence keeps him and his family very happy, I got the feeling that if I had spent much more time staying with them, I would have started wearing a Dhoti Kurta, renounced money and started waving a red-flag! Alas I had to leave shortly after, but my brother, Hugo, spent six months there and he seems to be okay 🙂

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16 Responses to “The Earth on a Plate (Melkote)”

  1. Olivia Dixon Says:

    I love the story of the scorpion;it makes a very charming image. I can hear the excited squeals and laughter. Did you take a photo of it? LOLmxxx

  2. Seema Dodhia Says:

    Hey Alex, it seems you are having a fab time! I just wanted to say have a great and interesting xmas and an unforgettable new year! I am expecting lots of photos when you get back!
    xxxx

  3. Hamiltons Says:

    Dear Alex,
    Happy Christmas from all of us. We are missing you at Betchworth. It is quite a small Christmas this year. Robert and Joosje, Cecily and Vivie are here. Benjamin, Charlie and Alexandra are arriving this afternoon. Gavin, Harriet, Sybilla and Octavia are in Brussels. Your father and Ann are here and myself (John).
    We have just opened the champagne before lunch. My father and mother raise a glass to you and your excellent web site. I am going to save the address in the favourites on their computer so they can keep track of your travels.
    With lots of love,
    All of us.

  4. Mummy Says:

    where are you? We are all despearately worried please ring us urgently at Paulines Tel +44 (0)1993 823100

  5. Sarah Says:

    If anyone hears from alex could they please post a notice on this web page to let everyone know he is ok.

    Sess.xx

  6. Sarah Says:

    Just so everyone knows, I just heard from Jo that alex ik ok. Apparently he was caught up in the middle of it and is now sitting in the villages up in the hills waiting to be evacuated. Am v pleased he is ok as I am sure you all are.

    Sess.xx

  7. Mummy Says:

    For all those people worried about Alexander: he is alive and well. He was walking in the hills and has texted, this morning the 27 December, to say he is well and OK but that when he walked into Unawatuna all the hotels bar one had been completely destroyed. He has obviously been very lucky, and we must thank God.

  8. leila Says:

    Alex, relieved to hear that you’re ok. A belated happy christmas to you. Wishing you happiness and many more adventures in the new year, leila xx

  9. Helen Says:

    Hi Alex, good to hear you are well in India. When i watched the news from dutch TV, i did worried about you! Especially it’s holiday time. Anyway, good luck with your future trip. Merry Christmas and Happy new Year!! Btw, i got your postcard,it’s very sweet!!

  10. Veronica Says:

    Hey Alex, So glad to hear you are ok in India. I was really worried. Good luck in your travels and best of luck in the coming year. Take care and stay safe. speak to you when you get back. V

  11. Greg Says:

    Glad to hear you’re ok. (A belated…) Merry Christmas and all the best for the new year.

    Greg

  12. Ann Dixon Says:

    Whew! Thanks for your text and also for the ingenious earlier phone message from Koshec which I didn’t get until after yours. Hopeless at text so didn’t reply except through John Hamilton.
    I’m not sure what I would do in your place given I had clean water and was was more or less (healthwise) safe. You are caught in a piece of history. If the UN manages to pull off what it is promising, it will justify its often dubious existance. I also imagine there is quite a pull to do something if one is actually there and if there is anything useful one can do. Precarious advice I am sure as Daddy wants you home immediately! All love and god bless. You may not have a whole bunch of options. Drop a line when you can as to where you might be next- and, if it is our front door that is also grand. xxAnn

  13. simona Says:

    hi alex!good to hear you are ok. I thought to you since the first moment i knew about all, marco this morning gave me the internet adress of this blog so finally I discovered u are fine!!!i’m really relieved!!!
    a big big big hug
    simona

  14. Olivia Dixon Says:

    I spoke to Alex this morning and he was still in Unawatuna, Sri Lanka. He said that the British High Commission had laid on a bus for British Nationals and that he was waiting for the bus to take him to Columbo. He is planning, if he can, to attempt to carry on with his holiday plans, i.e. he is not coming home at present. He said he thought the East coasts of Thailand and Malaysia could be still OK and he intended, if possible, to head there!

  15. glorianna Says:

    Alex, What a way to ring out the old! A slight edit of our card this year may provide food for thought: Familiar, and the more so unfamiliar or changed –territory needs to be continually scouted, assimilated and appreciated. Understanding is to recognize that “knowledge” is no more than a set of hypotheses, to be tested time and again. I am sure your journey in these next few days and on into the year will be marked by the joys of scouting, the work of assimilation, and the rewards of appreciation. We look forward to your next posting. Cheers, we all feel most grateful that you were climbing a hill at the time! E & G

  16. Chiharu Says:

    Good to hear Alex is OK, very scared and worried as I watched TV news. Please be careful if you go on travelling.

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