Sunday Dec 4th:
Our morning in Timbaktu started early. Much to the surprise of Shailesh, who had volunteered to be our guide for the early morning hike, Anitha and I woke up on the sound of the alarm and as we were stepping out, a sleepy Sudha surprised us at the door saying she would join us if we waited for a few minutes !! We hiked up to the saddle point to the north west of Timbaktu and Sudha decided to stay on there, while Shailesh, Anitha and I went ahead to climb up the tall peak further north of the saddle. Though the trek up to the peak was good fun, once there, it wasn't much fun. The fog was still quite thick and we couldn't see much of the view that we had heard comments about from the folks at the collective. Just as Sudha was about to give up on us and turn back we reached the saddle point and all of us headed back, all primed for a much needed breakfast !
After a relaxed breakfast and a hurried bath we headed out to meet with Dinesh, Subba, and Babloo in the remaining couple of hours at the collective. Sudha was able to join in a conversation between Uzramma and Subba in the mess hall while I sought out Babloo to talk to him about our ideas for the next few years. It was a short conversation, he felt that the conversation would be better held in a wider group, especially so because he himself didn't have to make the switch from a mainstream job to that of the collective. We joined the group in the mess hall and the next hour was spent discussing perspectives and approaches that one comes with when stepping into the alternative or developmental arena. More on this in a later post ...
We headed back to the collector's hut to pack up our bags and headed to the Chintavanam office with Dinesh. Overlooking a demo plot, the Chintavanam office is located just a kilometer out of C.K. Palli village and is a spacious and airy building constructed with the purpose of serving as the main office of the collective. We sat there to chat with Dinesh about the organic farming efforts the collective has undertaken. The collective works with farmers from the neighbouring villages moving them towards organic agriculture. Produce from organic farmer's of neighboring villages are collected and marketed by the collective, and Ashis is responsible for these marketing efforts.
We headed back to the collective had a quick lunch and started back for Bangalore. Madhu also came along – the three of us would be leaving for Chennai by the night train. We reached home base after 4 and a half hours, with the last 60 kms requiring 2 hours!