Digging in the Dirt, Building Bricks by Hand, and Battling with Termites

Day 59

Kuilapalayam, India

My first week volunteering at Chola Garden is coming to an end. We have made lots of progress, but have also had to battle the elements of heat, rain, and termites eating our newly made mud-bricks. This project is based around creativity and problem-solving and so far we are excelling in these regards.

Thus far we have finished our design, mapped out the design on the ground where the building will lay, carved out half of the foundation while using the excess soil in our brick mixtures, and created 84 40 cm x 20 cm x 9 cm bricks that are currently drying. Although the brick-making is still at a testing phase, we will eventually reach a time hopefully that the “perfect” brick is made, termite-less and with the strength to bear the load of every brick on top. Below are a few pictures from our build this week.


This is an initial picture of our building site.


This is the wonderful Geoff and Selvi who I am working with daily.


Mixing the mud-sand mixture. 2 parts soil, 1 part sand, 1/2-1 part straw, a few handfuls of lime, and tumeric-mixed water. Our first mud-mixture.


Selvi packing in the first mud mix.


Lifting the mud mixture up.


First bricks completed.


Geoff digging out the foundation.


Selvi working on filling and flattening out the mud-bricks. They look quite professional! We started putting them on top of a tarp to potentially keep the termites away. Hopefully this method will work and we will see shortly.

This up-coming week we will begin the process of laying the foundation in steps with cement, mortar, and stone. By the time this is finished we should have enough bricks to start with the adobe design. Everything is going smoothly, we are making progress, the family is wonderfully taking care of me, and I am enjoying my time here.

Reading Classics

I have been voraciously reading a few George Orwell books that I have not read before and have concluded that if I could be like any writer, it would be a modern version of him. Something about his prose, his background, and his desires just seem to resonate with me. I finished Burmese Days, The Road to Wegan Pier, and am now working on Keep the Aspidistra Flying.

Hopefully, if I have an extended stretch of time when I reach Sri Lanka, I will be able to get down to some serious writing. There are many books within me that want to come out, but they are just sort of clogged in there waiting to be released. I constantly feel if I only I could find the right editor they would manifest shortly, but this is probably just an excuse that I tell myself. I continue to believe or even “know” that my best writing will always lay ahead and my skill will increase with practice.

List of daily expenses and donations between June 13th and June 19th 2015:

Total spent on food: $8.83

Room: $3.14

Random: $3.69

Total: $15.66

Total: $15.66 + 378.25 = 393.91 divided by 59 days = $6.68 per day

Donations given to random strangers and sadhus = $.60

Donation to Eco-Village building project = $12.49

Total = $13.08 + $1061.13 = $1074.21 divided by 59 days = $18.21 per day

Expense account = $271.03 – $15.66 = $255.37 (Avg. $6.68 per day will last 38 more days)

Donations account = $88.45 – $13.08 = $75.37 (Avg $18.21 per day will last 4 more days)


If you would like to donate to this project and\or blog please visit this link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=68NFW6YUJ2P3A


Published by

This American Sadhu

Wandering traveler, writing a story, contemplating spiritual stuff, living austere, and helping random strangers... all rolled into ONE. What fun!

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