Community

I was a social worker for many years, often going from village to village, telling the people who live there how to ‘better’ their lives. My work involved talking a lot of jargon, pointing out ‘problems’ and how we could go about ‘improving’ them. In all that time, I never  contemplated my own weaknesses, for I considered myself an educated and aware young man. I fell prey to what consumes most of us who like to call ourselves educated – conceit, which stops one from learning.

‘Quaker’ is just a nickname. The real name of Quakers is ‘Friends’, collectively called members of the Society of Friends. George Fox founded this movement in 1650 in England. He experienced enlightenment after persistent, quiet contemplation and taught his followers that they did not need organized church or priests between them and God, for He was within all of us. Quakers meet on Sundays for silent worship in what they call the Meeting House, or in homes of members.

Mankind’s intimacy with nature and his quest for beauty seem to have been food for the soul since time immemorial. The ability to visualize, to imagine, to use one’s head and hands and feel intuitively about forms of nature and materials around us has led to expressions which are diverse, and has resulted in rich craft traditions all over the world.

We certainly appreciate handcrafted objects far more than machine-made products for the personal touch, care, skill, discipline and the effort that goes into its making.

Life is best enjoyed when lived fully, when we participate wholeheartedly in it, when the inevitable passage of time is filled with daily doses of fun and joy; and life becomes enjoyable when relationships are rooted in trust and love, and when the income-generating work that we choose to engage in makes play look contrived in comparison.

My eyes were slowly adjusting to the morning brightness when a shape emerged out of the nearest tree. The creature moved sensuously in its descent, one clawed foot at a time, an elegant slow motion- very much like a panther on the prowl. Eyes half-closed, almost meditative, it didn’t seem to be in a hurry. It inched towards a brown leaf, effortlessly gliding from tree trunk to the precarious stem of an adjoining plant. It was undoubtedly the biggest chameleon I’d ever seen. Only last evening, a baby snake, black with yellow markings, had slithered across my path on my way to the stream.

The organic food Mess at the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII, Pune) can be viewed as an example by other institutes.