It’s been a long time since I felt so calm and connected.
It’s a wonder how life can go about and we, in our rush just trudge along without pausing and taking the time to connect with ourselves and just feel the earth around us.
And so, it started, a quiet day in Auroville, with us gorging on some rather sumptuous Apple croissants and a rustic loaf of pain aux olives, along with some coffee in Auroville bakery.
We headed to the handmade paper factory(Auroville Papers) for our 2 day workshop there.
We sat under the trees on some lovely benches as we waited for the owners of the factory, Harvé and Louisa to meet us.
They took us on a tour of the factory, explaining to us the various stages as we watched the Hollander beater and the press. We also discussed natural dyes and various plant fibre that we could use to make paper.
And then we started, cooking the banana fibre in a rather large outdoor stove, watching it change colour from translucent to an inky shade of black.
We then started with deckles and cotton pulp. Pressing sheet after sheet onto wet cloth. Soft cotton dispersed in the water, and suddenly a sheet after the deckle is pressed into the cloth! How marvellous it was! We worked quietly, listening to the birds and the rustle of the trees above us. Concentrated work can be really calming.
And suddenly a bell rang and it was time for a short tea break. We sat under the trees on the benches with Harvé, Louisa, Jean-Jacques, Perisa and Kaveri.
A very timid and petit lady sat there and offered us tea or lemon juice.
It was one of those rare and beautiful moments where people from all around the world, drink tea and bond over the simplest of things like fibre and paper. No qualms, just beautiful and spontaneous!
We learnt how Harvé came from France about 40 years ago and set up Auroville Papers.
It was such a heartening experience.
And then it was back to work post lunch. Beating the banana pulp that was now a shade of jet black. We took the pulp to the garden, dressed in our aprons and armed with wooden bats. And we beated the pulp for a good 45 mins! A superb upper arm workout I might add!
Over the two days we also made paper using banana fibre, papyrus and recycled paper. We also used some leaves, seed pods and flowers and pressed them onto the paper.
Once the sheets were decked, we carried our rather weighty and bulky boards to the press and watched in wonder as most of the water was pressed out. We then opened them and kept them to dry.
Finally it was today morning that we went to collect our papers and my! How gorgeous they were! Gorgeous shades of white from the cotton, brown from the papyrus, and wheaten from the recycled paper. Streaks of banana fibre embedded and shapes of seed pods! Flowers and leaves pressed into the paper!
It’s delightful to see how the simple things in life can be so satisfying and fulfilling.
Because joy isn’t found in the complex and the complicated. It’s found in the elementary and the unambiguous. It’s found in the rudimentary aspects of life, in a simple smile, in the humbleness of a person.
It is found in the ability to bring happiness to others, in the joy of discovering oneself and in the hard work of creating something wonderful!