Me: Ankit, can I ask you something?
Me: What the hell are we doing here?
Ankit: What do you mean?
Me: I mean, why in the name of god are we in Malaysia? Why are we walking in a random (albeit beautiful) garden in Malaysia? What's the reason? The purpose of all this?
Ankit: I have no clue.
Me: (Laughing) Dammed! This is so random. It sounds so romantic to pick up your bags and leave. But what once you reach? What then?
Ankit: I know. But, I guess it's important to move where we feel we should, although we don't know why we are moving.
Me: I was happy in India.
Amkit: Me too.
And we fell silent. This conversation BTW happened a day before we were to leave for our first workaway experience in Pahang, Malaysia. How clueless we were! No, we did not realize the bigger meaning of all this. It hit us only when we were on the plane back home. Only then did we figure out how all this randomness has changed us as people, forever. Nature has it's own way to direct us. We rarely appreciate it's intelligence.
This farm however, was definitely the first step towards this change. We had left behind the status quo, the known and the comfortable. The present was making us question everything, including our relationship with each other. But most of all, it was making us acutely aware of our relationship with our own selves.
The farm was an unprecedented experience. Surrounded only by farms and hills for miles, the closest town was an hour's drive and no public transportation was available. There were four of us workawayers. A Canadian girl, Vanessa, George from US and the two of us Indians. The farm was a property of Hare Rama Hare Krishna foundation so the food we were served was vegetarian. Vanessa was vegan and George had given up meat years ago.
All of us had a room to ourselves with aircon. We had a common washing machine and a home theater with no cable connection. The Nepali farm hands did lend us some English movies.
It was a quite place. Too quite. The quietness felt like a spear going right through me. This was my first unofficial Vipasana training. The difference being that I didn't know that I was going through one. Day in and day out, I went to the farm, did the same monotonous work, ate the same food and sat with myself. For company, I had three people, going through the same emotional turmoil and an insane amount of space. The kind that brings out all the chaos inside you.
The mood was capricious, to say the least. Sudden happiness turning into wells of tears and the long hours of sleep amalgamating into anxious hours of complete wakefulness. I will never forget sitting on that bale of hay and watching the sun die day after day, with a sense of relief and something close to silence, inside me.
The work on the farm in itself wasn't back breaking. We did four-hour shift, two in the morning, two in the afternoon, where we did everything from packaging guava to taking a big herd of cows for grazing. It was physical and it felt good. There were many farm hands available who ran the show. We were just the extra hands that weren't really expected to work too much or too hard. They rarely asked us to work in fact. It was a sense of duty on our part that made us help them. Also, what else in the name of god were we going to do there!
But those planning to go for workaway projects, do not stress. It's hardly ever the kind of work that will require too much of your time or energy. It's mostly a platform where people meet people and learn how to live with the idiosyncrasies of everyone and with themselves.