Day Two: Sunday 6th March.
Today we will drive out of the craziness of Mumbai traffic onto the Expressway which leads us
up into the Ghats (hills) on the road to Lonavala - our destination for the next days. Lonavla’s
original name, Lenauli - means the places of many caves (lena meaning cave).
This trip takes about two to three hours and on the way you will feel that change in the
atmosphere as we climb up into the Ghats area. This is a beautiful area much frequented by
Mumbaikars as they escape the summer heat of the city.
It’s usually an exciting ride - as the traffic is undisciplined and runs on rules the Western driver cannot comprehend. However by lunch time we will arrive at Malavali to the existing Shiksham Gram Shelter for Homeless Children.
Here we will meet the children and Satish and Yogita, the tireless and visionary leaders of this place which provides care and love to 74 children between the ages of 4 and 15.
Nandini Chandraratnam – our co-guide - will also tell you the story of her own love affair with the children and her role as skilled fundraiser and one who continually invites others to share the vision. Her story is one of profound trust and how following the guidance of her Spirit has led her to a life deeply entrenched in this heart centered work.
As she says: “My calling has found me and guided me at every step!” We will learn a lot from her about letting go and the art of detachment.
So here in the village this will be “getting to know you” time - as we have been invited to join the whole ‘family’ for their midday meal and will sit cross legged on the floor with them all and enjoy a delicious and nutritious meal. They are sure to offer us some chai tea as well .. (sweet, strong, milky and flavored with the spice of India, usually cardamom or ginger) – once you develop a taste for it - it will always remind you of India!
And you are sure to already begin to fall in love with the children – they quickly work their way into your heart.
After lunch we will leave the children to their afternoon activities and make our way to our new accommodation at the Indrayani Holiday Home.
Set back off the local roadside this clean, quiet, simple place will be our home for the next few days - so take a while to settle in and relax into the peace of the surrounding countryside. You will find everything you need here - and if there is anything you need please just ask.
Once we are settled in its time to have our first visit to the new and rapidly evolving site for the Shiksham Gram refuge and school. You will begin to understand the need for our assistance to this far reaching project.
Tonight we will enjoy a typical Indian dinner - accompanied by good local wine or beer that we can collect at the ‘bottle shop’ in the village if you wish. The rest of the evening - is free for you to chat, share, play cards, snooze or even check your emails if you like. But we will spend some time over dinner discussing the following day’s program and the different options that we will each have to contribute in the most beneficial way to the building and development of the new project - or simply working and playing with the children
Day Three: Monday 7th March
Breakfast will be served early so we can get out to the site before the day gets too hot. We will climb into our transport - probably rickshaws depending on our numbers, and will head over to the new site.
Here is where we will be able to contribute the most. There is a huge area which can be mapped out for garden and we can plant trees, nurture fruit trees, prepare the soil, start compost heaps, begin the process of growing seeds, and generally help out with this area to prepare it for the children’s nutritional needs.
The work that we will be able to help with will vary depending on our personal skills and what we can contribute the best.
The needs of the Children of the orphanage will be carefully considered as we discover where we can each help to the best of our ability.
Playing with the children will be a big part of our contribution as the exposure to different languages and cultures is very helpful to them.
Once the day is done, we will shower and change and drive a few kilometers to Sunny’s Dhaba, the popular typical open restaurant.
Here we can relax on charpoys, drink local wine (remarkably good) or the renowned Kingfisher Beer or possibly some of the delicious fruit juices or ‘lassis’ and enjoy a great meal. This will be a good chance to discuss our impressions and ideas about what we are seeing and experiencing in the day. This time working together with the local people will bring many insights to be shared.
Day Four Tuesday 8th March
Today we will leave early for the hike (350 steps) up to the Buddhist Karla Caves which lie in the western ghats, about 114 kms away from Mumbai. They were carved out almost 2,000 years ago - and have a large
collection of Chaityas (halls). Although as exquisite as the more famous Ajanta and Ellora caves, these caves are less crowded and make for an extremely pleasant outing. The beautifully carved Chaityas and Viharas (monasteries) take you on a journey back in time, narrating stories of the past. This will be a morning marveling at how the ancient people who lived and meditated in these caves managed to create such incredible carvings.
We will come home via the small busy town Lonavala and have a typical Indian late lunch at the very popular Rama Krishna Restaurant.
You can have the opportunity to feed your sweet tooth at one of the many famous Chikki (Local sweet) Shops here in town! Or simply surrender to the delicious Kulfi icecream in the Rama Krishna.
Once we have been back to Indrayani to freshen up and take a rest, we may have two choices. Those of us who would like to continue their work at the site may return there - and others for whom the spiritual
path is intriguing, may walk just down the road to the Vedanta Academy for a guided tour. Founded in 1988 by Swami Parthasarathy, the Academy offers continual three-year residential courses on Vedanta.
“Vedanta is the essential philosophy original to the Hindus, but we claim it is the essential philosophy of all religions. The major ideas of Vedanta are, first, the ultimate existence. We hold that all the things we see around us are ultimately reducible to one substance.”
If you are intrigued by what you see here you may be able to attend a videoed lecture of Swami Parthasarathy and we will either have dinner at the Academy or back at Indrayani.
Day Five: Wednesday 9th March
This will be our last day of work at the Sage / Shiksham Gram Site and the day will fly by as we know our time is almost to a close.
Dinner that night is going to be a surprise celebration - so bring your party hats!!
You will not forget this evening – and will finally say farewell to all your new found friends – knowing in your hearts that coming back will be high on the list of things that are must do’s in your life. Something to definitely put on your bucket list!
Day Six: Thursday 10th March
We will pack and leave Indrayani by 10 am calling briefly for last farewells to the children and our new found friends. The long road to Mumbai beckons and we will wind our way down the Ghats and back into the noise and bustle of this huge city. But on the way.. there is a sumptuous buffet lunch prepared for us at the Jewel of India in Worli. Yes we know.. eating is a very important part of Indian life.. and you will certainly not go hungry on this trip!
After lunch we will be warmly welcomed by Renu Kapoor at the Institute of Jewellery Design. Here both Sage and others have supported under resourced women to be trained in a top class facility. You will see the whole process of the design and production of various forms of jewellery and be given a very informative tour. Renu is a very talented lady - a woman of perceptive foresight who conceptualized the SAGE School of Creative Crafts for Maya Shahani. As Maya says: “The vision of the School of Creative Crafts was Renu’s and I fell in love with it.”
We return to the Godwin Hotel (you will most certainly be amazed at how far and wide you feel you have been since you were here last). Settle in.. relax, shower and rest for a while – and we will go for dinner
poolside at the renowned Radio Club. If you wish you may simply take the evening off and explore on your own or stroll by the beach. There is no obligation to be stuck to the group - please feel free if you wish to
have space for yourself.
Day Seven: Friday 11th March
Breathing exercises on the rooftop at dawn for those who like to join. Or an early morning stroll on the beach. You may breakfast in the hotel or for those who like to go out – breakfast at the famous Leopold’s Café two blocks away.
We will leave for the day’s outing at 9.45. Our first visit will be the Koli Village where the fisher folk ply their trade. The fishermen are called ‘Koli’ in Marathi (Interestingly, Koli means a spider - one who weaves a web or net). They were one of the earliest residents of Mumbai.
Moving on, our main objective this morning will be to visit the Geeta Nagar slum where the SAGE Foundation supports a school. Shazar says: “Maya Shahani took me there in November and it was a highlight of my visit to India as I am sure it will be yours as well.”
In the Geeta Nagar slum over 40,000 people survive in absolute poverty. Geeta Nagar is a hub of sprawling hutments situated on a prime land in the heart of South Mumbai but the people here do not have even basic facilities like water and toilets. Help is needed to impart formal and non formal education, health care and vocational skills training for under privileged children, youth and young women. These innocent children become victims of child abuse, and women are beaten up by their drunken husbands if not given the right kind of nurturing through education and social empowerment.
You will have the privilege of meeting Sagaya Mary - a tower of strength and a woman who knows almost every slum dweller by name and is a godmother for them.
Lunch will be held at the trendy Moshe restaurant named after the owner, Moshe Shek, India’s first signature chef. Having catered for celebrity guests like Madonna and Jeffery Archer, Moshe’s Penne, his Signature Fondue and the Baked Philadelphia Cheesecake are to die for. Moshe’s boasts of having the largest desert menu in the country. Quite a contrast to where we have just been.
In the afternoon we will take in some of the essential visits for Mumbai - visiting the beautiful Prince of Wales Museum - to stroll through the halls and view the many fascinating exhibits.
Time permitting we can also go to the Jehangir Art Gallery next door. And a brief walk away will take us to Cottage Industries - where you can view and buy many different crafts made by artisans from different states of India- - you are sure to find some delightful gifts and keepsakes here.
A short walk away is the Gateway of India on the waterfront, built to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Bombay, a place where over hundreds of years a variety of ceremonies are performed. The last British troops to leave India, passed through the Gateway in a ceremony on February 28, 1948.
No visit to Mumbai is complete without the taste of luxury of the 6 star Hotel which is the iconic Taj Mahal Palace. Since it opened in 1903, this amazing hotel has created its own unique history. From Maharajas and Princes to various Kings, Presidents, CEOs and entertainers, the Taj has played the perfect host, supportive of their every need. We will meet at the Harbour Bar here for a drink together and will have a chance to share our impressions of the day.
Back to hotel to freshen up and we will meet to go to dinner at the rooftop Koyla Restaurant… where you can even sample a hookah!
Day Eight: Saturday 12th March
Our last day and a chance to shop, or simply wander and soak in the energy and vibrancy of this incredible city of Mumbai. You will discover treasures to take home to your family and friends or simply as a remembrance of your journey.
We recommend FabIndia and Bombay Stores as great places to find gifts and wonderful fabrics, clothes and other items - at very reasonable prices.
Some of you may leave for home this evening depending on flights and some may be staying on for your individual experience of India. But those of us who are still together will enjoy a last delicious feast together - plan our return journey and offer our ideas for how we can continue to add value to the Sage School of Creative Craft, the orphanage and the village. The sustainable village project is part of the Clinton Global Initiative.
And through our experience and our valuable contribution this project will be assisted to become a template or model to provide a vehicle for people to stand up on their own feet. They will be given the opportunity to learn skills and become educated to rise out of the poverty that has previously imprisoned them for lifetimes. We know it will be a mutual education! We will learn much from each other.
For further details please click on the link: http://besthealth.com.au/besthealth/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Sage-Journey-To-India.pdf
Join us to share the journey
Dates: March 5th - March 13th 2011
Land costs which cover all expenses, meals and accommodation - airport pickup and transfers. USD1975. Twin-share accommodation. Single room available - surcharge - $55 per night (Mumbai) and $30 per night (Malavali).
Flights, Indian Visa, Insurance, additional drinks (alcohol) and internet not included.
To find out more details or to reserve your place on this journey of a lifetime - email us today - there are limited places so don’t delay. Also there are some great deals available right now on flights to India. We will be happy to help you with your bookings - so let us know as soon as possible.
Deposit of USD500 payable on booking - balance to be paid by 31th January.
Travel Insurance compulsory. Indian visas are required (fees not included)
Contact: Shazar Robinson
+61 8 9330 2087
Journey Organized and Conducted by Shazar Robinson for Sage Foundation.
Please direct all enquiries to email@example.com +61 8 9330 2087 or +61 402 008801.
8 Hopgood Street, Melville, Western Australia 6156.