Namaste, everyone! It’s Walker here sending love and well wishes on behalf of the entire Shiva group! I’m so thankful that I found an Internet cafe tucked above the bustling chaos of Amritsar before we head off this afternoon to catch our night train to Agra (aka home of the Taj Mahal!).

This past week has been an absolutely beautiful whirlwind. After leaving Deer Park Institute on October 13th, we journeyed by taxi to our next destination – and organic farm about 8km outside Dharamsala. Prior to our arrival we had no idea what to expect, and I think many of us were preparing ourselves for a gritty, labor intensive farming experience; however, we settled in immediately and spent the week in bliss at the paradise that is the Dev Bala Organic Farm. The incredibly knowledgeable Devindar Rana owns the farm and has been living there for 28 years with his wonderful wife Brigbala (Bala for short). We also had the pleasure of meeting their children Rahul and Prianca, who occasionally help out on the farm, on the first night.

A typical day at the farm consisted of: a leisurely morning spent reading, relaxing, or journaling with a cup of chai or lemon tea; a delicious breakfast prepared by Bala; chill time until work from 10 to noon(which included hoeing, weeding, tree chopping, onion and garlic peeling, rock transporting, cow washing, and more); more chill time until we savored lunch prepared by Bala, occasionally (after much persistent persuasion) with assistance from our group members; even more chill time until work from 3:30 to 5; yet again, more chill time until dinner.  Dev and Bala made sure we got plenty of rest – many glorious naps occurred and countless books were finished by the end of our stay. =)

Definite highlights include our venture to the hot springs, Devindar sharing his knowledge about sustainable living and his life, and Bala’s surprise for the group – our very own Payton got to model one of her gorgeous saris! Everyone was swooning.

I think we all will cherish our time spent at Dev Bala Organic Farm.

The 6 hour public bus ride signaled the sudden transition from the serenity of the farm to the chaos of the Golden Temple. The past two days have been filled with exploring the beautiful temple, experiencing the indescribable langar (the free temple meals that are offered to everyone), and dancing to Jai Ho with Indian women in the street just before the incredible Pakistan/Indian border ceremony (such a dream).

Each day we fall more in love with India. Hoping everything in the states is going well! Another blog post to come once we are settled in Varanasi!