The last few days in India

I know, I know, I know….I am sure you are all saying “Where have you been and why haven’t you updated your blog recently”?  I have been preoccupied with many things…..some learning curves regarding ethics and art therapy, going out with friends, preparing and presenting my work at the Aikiyam school board meeting, saying good bye to friends and the children I am working with, doing last minute shopping for friends and family, and packing.  These are not good excuses but it also has been easier to post on facebook.  I am leaving on Friday to go to Nepal for 7 days.  The taxi picks me up at 3am and I arrive in Kathmandu at 3:30pm – I think I will be pretty tired when I arrive.  I can’t wait to see my friends!!   I will be flying home on the 29th.  I arrive in the US of A on the night of the 30th.  My friends in Nepal have a wonderful trip planned for me that I am so excited for.  When I was there around 13 years ago  I got really sick and couldn’t fully enjoy the end of my trip to the Jungle and the beautiful lakeside town called Pokhara but this trip I will.  I will be spending my first few days at my friend Tara’s house with her and her mother in Katmandu and then we will leave for Pokhara and the Chitiwan jungle.  I will update facebook or here when I can.  I might not have the internet for a few days while I am there so my updates might happen when I get home.  Here are a few pictures from this last weekend.  I can’t wait to see you when I get home and I will be so sad to say good bye to everyone here.


A really cute children’s area at a near by outdoor restaurant

20140812_204745A really amazing dinner with friends

20140809_161712Cute cows at the visitors center



A silly selfie in the city


Bara and I


Bara and a really cute dog


Bara barefoot on her TVS and what she takes with her is in her carry box


Beautiful flowers outside my appartment

20140817_151327 20140817_151343

Our hands – Bara and I had matching rings made 🙂

20140817_060152 20140817_064850 20140817_064409

The sunrise at Serenity beach


More Beautiful flowers  20140818_125501

A kolam outside of the Kofi Bar


Fishing boats


Bara with the sunrise


Mandala making, goats in my way, and cute dogs

Today is my first day off heading into the weekend.  I woke up this morning around 6:30am to the sounds of a marching band and drums.  Why you might ask?  I have NO idea.  On my way to coffee and breakfast I passed by the temple next to where I live and there was a full band practicing in their open area.  I don’t know why they had to start at 6:30am but if that occured in the US I think someone would file a noise complaint 🙂  This band has been playing all morning long.  I met my friend Syeed, his wife and boy this morning at my breakfast place.  We had a really good conversation about Auroville, Germany (where they are from), local schools that they are looking at for their son to attend and other interesting topics.  After coffee and an egg I stopped by Kumar’s TVS maintenance shop near the school I work at to have them order a new front break.  They repaired my breaks yesterday because they weren’t working well and good working breaks on a TVS is REALLY IMPORTANT especially when goats, dogs, cows, other TVS’s can cut in front of you at anytime.  After the repair I noticed my back break was working great but my front break didn’t really work.  They are ordering a new break for me that they will replace tomorrow before I go out for the day. After the maintenance scenario I drove to my pottery lesson and on my way a bunch of goats were in the middle of the road.  Normally when goats or animals are in the middle of the road you beep and hopefully they move or you just drive around them.  Today I drove around them.  My pottery class front door was closed when I arrived.  I called Neela my teacher and she said one of her next door neighbors died yesterday so there will be no class today.  I gave her my regards and rescheduled for Sunday after I go the matrimandir to meditate.  I am meeting my friend Archana today at 1pm to go to the city of Pondicherry to go shopping – I am hoping to buy a sari and maybe some other Indian clothes I can wear at school.  The visit to the city will be great and very interesting because she was born and raised there.  We are planing on eating lunch and getting a drink.

School was challenging and good this week.  The attention span, the lack of desire to participate in group work, and unruly behavior were some of the observations I made when working with the older grades this week.  One girl didn’t want to work with another girl and was upset.  She wanted to work alone because her partner wasn’t speaking with her.  The directive is to write a dream story and create art to go with it.  I tried speaking with the upset girl and needed help from another student to translate.   I eventually gave her some paint and paper to honor her need to work alone.  A bunch of other students from a different class needed to spray their chalk pastels with hairspray to stop the smudging.  They all wanted to partake in this process but I soon found out they just wanted to spray their hands so they smelled good.  I had to take the hairspray and spray the drawings my self.  I explained that the hairspray was expensive and they need to conserve it throughout the rest of the year.  A boy noticed that one can was empty and asked if he could take it.  I told him no and that Tia might have special plans for the empty cans when she returns from America.  The conversations about the empty cans consisted of throwing them in a fire to blow them up, and other words that I couldn’t understand.  I will be taking them home with me for safety sake.

The rest of the week was great!  I did many directives on Mandala making.  Creche, UKG, LKG, 1st, 2nd and 3rd standard all made mandalas in groups. I used this directive to show the importance of cooperation, sharing, working together, not telling others what to do, and how it feels when someone doesn’t respect you or your art.  One group of children started coloring over another girls art that she had made and I interrupted their process to show them she was unhappy.  They quickly stopped their destructive behavior and helped to remake her art without me saying anything and she was included and cared about again – this warmed my heart.  Many instances occurred like this one in the process.

An Indian Garden Lizard


The goats in my way –

this is leaving the entrance of my school and Kumar’s maintenance shop

Goats in my way

A really cute mother dog protecting her new born puppies. She better

protect them because I might take one or two 🙂


This was another cute dog in front of the mother dog and puppies.

This dog started digging under this TVS and then laid down in the

hole to stay cool.  Many dogs in India do this.

Dog in hole

Making Mandalas with 2nd standard




Designing their mandala

Designing a mandala

The finished Mandala’s all together



Rooftop dinner with friends, making art and mandalas in India

All of the neighbors in our apartment area decided to have a dinner together on our beautiful open air rooftop and we were fortunate to have it in the moonlight.


My morning coffee while planning for school.

planning and coffee

My breakfast before school.


The circle is ready for the next students.

The circle is ready

The lower kindergarten peace birds.

LKG Peace birds

Small paintings created by 7th standard (7th grade).

Small Paintings

Mandalas being made by the preschoolers.



Sharing oil pastels

Exploring colors.


Making bowls.


My walk home from school.

My walk home

On my way home from school I ran into a student calling my name “Julie, Julie, Julie here have some sugar fruit”.  I said thank you as she dumped them into my hand from hers and then ran off.  I tried one and they tasted just like sugary fruit – I didn’t really like them but it was sweet she gave them to me.

Sugar fruit

I passed a really cute cow on my way home.

A cute cow on my way home





4th of July in India = A pottery class and a visit to Sadhana Forest

Yesterday was an amazing day filled with new experiences; an Indian Pottery class in the morning and a really tasty meatless sausage vegan dinner and visit to Sadhana Forest.  My first pottery class at a local clay studio and learned more from my teacher yesterday than I did from my classes in the US.  My teacher was wonderful and explained my mistakes thoroughly.  I was able to center my clay after my first throw in a couple seconds.  I impressed myself.  I should preface that I don’t have a lot of experience at wheel throwing and I am really horrible at pulling handles.  She was so patient and every time I completed a piece she asked if I wanted it or wanted to reuse it.  I reused two pieces just to learn where my mistakes were being made – how I was unevenly applying pressure, or where there were bubbles that I should have worked out of the clay prior to throwing etc… I will continue my classes with her every week while I am here.

After class I did a boatload of laundry and then got ready to leave for Sadhana Forest.  Sadhana Forest is a re-forestation project that was started about 10 years ago near where I live in a really dry arid area of India.  A couple from France Yorit and Aviram Rozin had a vision and put it into action.  They began creating a vibrant indigenous Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest (TDEF) on a 70-acre plot of land and waistland reclamation through financial gifts, donations and a volunteer program.  Their philosophies encompasses the same beliefs as Sri Aurobindo and the Mother (the creators of Auroville) along with human unity, veganism and hiMsA (a sanskrit word that means no harmful act of killing, hurting, slaying, injury, mischief to animals and or humans), no competition – if they play games they change them to not include competition, unschooling for children – the children teach themselves on the land and decide when or if they are ready to attend a traditional school when they can make their own decisions, the volunteers and creators live in a gift economy – if someone needs something and you have it you can share it or give it to the person to help them out, they re-use EVERYTHING they purchase and don’t throw anything away.  Sadhana Forest won the third place in the Humanitarian Water and Food Award (WAF) 2010. Their volunteer base fluctuates from 30 to 40 in the summer and 100 + in the winter.  They use human waist for composting in growing their forests and gardens – this was very interesting to me. They began the same projects recently in Haiti, Kenya and another area of India on an Island. Their children, the children of the volunteers, and many that visit annually partake in their child development area where they teach on a small-scale re-forestation, water conservation, gardening and sustainability. The visit to SF included watching many films including The Witness. I believe everyone should watch this film once. It is a heart wrenching film with amazing depth. It is a powerful story of a non-animal lover transformed into one. It is not for the faint heart some animal cruelty is shown – I had to close my eyes for a many parts. After the film festival, a tour of the land, forest and facilities we all shared (including the volunteers and cooks) an amazing vegan dinner in their main hut. We took the bus back to Auroville and drove home on our TVS’s. See the pictures below.

Today I relaxed with my new fried Kate poolside for the afternoon at a local resort called Mango Hill and then I ran errands. I tried to change my return home departure date so I leave Kathmandu on the 25th instead of the 29th. This is still in process. I brought some pants (that I recently bought at a market) to a local seamstress to see if he could fix some rips that occurred while I was working in them at school last week. One of the rips became so large I had to take the TVS home to change pants during morning break. I will pick up the newly repaired pants on Monday.  20140704_160611

Kate on the bus to Sadhana Forest


Shoes outside the hut


Going into the main hut


Jamey giving us the presentation in the hut


A cactus garden

20140704_175930 20140704_180040

How to wash your dishes at SF

1. Rinse your plate in the first container

2. Scrub your plate with ashes and coconut husk

3. Dip your plate in the next three containers

4. Put in drying rack



Live in huts


Forest planting area


Forest regrowth area with stone signs telling you what kind of tree it is.


Hand washing station.  You fill up the little cup on top of the water container,

dump it into the cup on the post which has a hole in the bottom of it

and use the organic soap to wash and rinse your hands in the stream that comes out of the cup hole.


The pee catcher in the toilet composting area


The #2 catcher in the toilet area – they provide you with a plastic chair if you want one or you just take the top off and squat.


me under tree

legs and tree

Kate sitting under tree

Kate and I

Afternoon snack and drink

Restaurant and bar

Making new friends and drinking fresh coconut water

Hello Everyone – I haven’t written a lot lately but the last few days have been filled with some running around, indulging myself in a two hour massage at the quiet healing center on the beach, making new friends from Germany, the Czech Republic, and France, finding out that I am going to have an art therapy assistant who is a native to this area of India, planning for my classes, eating traditional India food and shopping.

I finally bought a couple Indian outfits that I will try to get pictures of soon- they are colorful with amazing designs and the pants are REALLY baggy.  We will see how wearing them works out at school around all the art materials.  I am happy that I can now honor that culture and the way people dress.

I woke up this morning to loud crashing sounds filtering in thought my bedroom windows.  I slowly opened my eyes to see a boy strapped up in the top of a palm tree outside my window.  He was chopping down all the coconuts – I thought he was going to sell them on the street.  I put some presentable clothes and made my way out onto the front porch and down the flight of stairs to the front yard (The front yard is my picture at the top of my blog) to find Selva – the caretaker drinking fresh coconut water out of a coconut.  He offered me one so I joined him for breakfast.  He stood there and drank from our coconuts – including his son.  It was so great!  After the amazing coconut water I made a quick breakfast, some Indian fair trade coffee, and got ready to go to the city with my new friends who just moved in downstairs Barbora and Kate.  We decided to walk out to the street to pick up a auto rickshaw to meet our other friend who was joining us for our market visit and Pondicherry shopping excursion.  We ended up hailing one after about a mile and half walk.  It is about a 15-minute ride to the city.  We shopped at the traditional inner markets for gifts and other essential and non-essential items.  After the traditional Indian market we made our way to a Indian department store where it was overwhelmingly similar to one you would find in Chicago or NYC.  It was huge with air conditioning and every floor was neatly organized displaying sari’s, pants and tops with matching scarfs, wedding outfits, men’s and children’s clothing and a grocery store on the top floor.  The only thing that resembled India in this huge store were the items for sale.  After our senses were overloaded and one friend couldn’t handle the AC any longer we moved onto a great lunch spot and ate an authentic Indian meal with a variety of chutneys, dal and curries served along with rice on a big palm leaf.  It was delicious and the shopping was fun.

Yesterday I was pleasantly asked to join my new assistant for lunch at her house.  She came to pick me up on her motorbike because I didn’t feel comfortable driving on the busy roads near her house.  I met her mother and father and sat in her air-conditioned room and had a wonderful meal her mother made for us.  What an honor it was and I loved talking with her and meeting her family.  On our way back to my place she showed me a place where I can take pottery classes – I signed up for my first class this Friday – I am very excited. I think we will remain friends for a long time.

The Quiet Healing Center:

It is located on the beach.  It is so peaceful!



The bathrooms at the Quiet Healing center: Which one did I choose?



A Buddha a the healing center


The Pondicherry Market



20140629_104728 20140629_105332






What happens in India is India

While on facebook this morning catching up on all the latest news and priorities I came across a friend’s post that I thought was very entertaining and a good read.  It made me laugh because of the reality of the scenario and I know we have all had a morning’s similar this.  After reading her great story I posted a response and she then asked if my scenario would have differed here in India? Here is the conversation:

Her post:

WWYD?? So I’m sitting at the light to turn left onto Route 1 next to McD’s in Portsmouth. I have seven minutes to get to DD (Dunkin Donuts) before work which is IMPERATIVE because I left my brain at home in a jar. I just missed the green light so I have to wait for another cycle. And it’s one of THOSE lights that takes forever. Three minutes pass and the light turns green, but OUT OF NOWHERE this little man decides to walk across the street in front of me. WTF? I actually motioned with my hand to move him along faster as if that would help. He just nonchalantly kept meandering, in no hurry. And you know the light to turn left doesn’t last very long! So, if you were there would you have a) ran down the guy because Darwinism is a good thing, b) blared your horn c) do nothing and meditate or d) have a heart attack and die because you know have four minutes to get coffee and get to work in Route 1 construction traffic? Writing that out was therapeutic, thank you. :)))

My response to what would have happened here in India:

Your scenario would be a little different here in India. You would try to start your REALLY old moped (AKA TVS) to go to work and hopefully get some coffee before so brain works but when you try to kick start it you find out it needs petrol but you have no way of knowing that before hand because there is no gas gauge. You walk it down the street to a local shop that you hope is open get a couple of liters put in by hand (mixed with a little oil) and on your way to the shop you notice you have a flat tire so you need to wait for the guy at another shop to fix your flat tire and once your all set to go to the coffee shop a bunch of cows walk in front of you and you beep so they walk faster but they don’t and then you get to the coffee shop and have coffee if you still have time. The coffee is served in really small cups so you drink 5.

First solo day at school

Classes started today at 9:30 beginning with Crech (preschool) and moving onto LKG (lower Kindergarten).  I don’t have a lot of experience working with preschool or lower kindergarten children, however, I know where they are developmentally and have wonderful directives to do with them in order to develop their motor, sensory pre-reading and writing skills.  Today I opened both classes with a sitting circle and the two Tamil teachers assisting me to translate my welcoming introduction.  After the brief introduction we all stood up in our circle and began a movement piece with clapping hands, mirroring actions along with acting and making animal sounds.  This was a fun way to open them up and get them ready for creating on paper.  They all sat down in groups of three around tables to begin their drawings with large crayons.  For many of them this was their first time ever drawing and they didn’t know what a crayon was – we had to show them how they colored. The soon got comfortable with drawing and I read a book on peace and kindness.  The drawings continued, after the reading on the other side or their white pieces of paper.  The pre reading drawings were very different then their post reading drawings.

My day continued after snack time, lunch and recess with 7th standard (graders), special needs and a mixed age group.  This work incorporated free painting, silent partner drawing and mirroring activities. At the end of the day I was in need of cooling down so I went to the local lap pool to do about 45 minutes of swimming prior to my TVS class (how to drive a India moped).  That was fun and easy.

Now I am off to planning for tomorrow!  Good night!

I miss you family and friends -sending love and hugs.


creche drawing

creche drawing

Creche or lower kindegarten paintingCreche walking back to there main class


Options Painting

Taking care of the paints


Options Paintings

Lap Pool