AAO Hostels sent me to the town of Heggodu, where I had a minimalist experience (no electricity!) right in the middle of nature.
Heggodu is a culturally rich village in Karnataka. It is located at a distance of about 8 km from the Sagar town, in the State of Karnataka.
My specific destination was Charaka, at a weavers’ factory where people carried out their work in harmony with the environment.
In Charaka, cotton is used as raw material to create art through handmade clothing.
The weaver community of Charaka distributes its products under the name “Desi,” which has more than 9 points of sale in Karnataka.
Ease of Access
It was a long journey to the Women Weaving Village, with bus changes in Shivamoga and Sagar. I finally made it to Heggodu by nightfall.
Women Weaving at Charaka was 3 miles from the center of town; a tuk-tuk was my transportation to the fabric factory.
The road was very dark; there was no electricity, houses or commercial establishments. I felt farther and farther away from civilization.
The tuk-tuk driver helped me with the phone calls so that I could communicate with Mr. Ramesh, the manager of Women Weaving.
Local Expert Guide
Mr. Ramesh was to welcome me at the main entrance of the factory, and would be showing me the ecological and minimalist way in which cotton fabric was created by hand.
He was very kind, and prepared dinner for us in a large room that had only a long and narrow table to place the kitchen utensils on; the place to sit down was the floor and the cutlery was my fingers. The dinner was delicious; a kitten lurking nearby watched us as we ate.
After dinner, I went to my room; it was late and I was tired. Bedtime!
The room was minimalist; I used my cell phone to illuminate the simple bed with a chair next to it. That was all! But did I really need anything else?
Once settled in my room, I had to go to the bathroom, which was located about 15 meters away. I took out my mobile phone again so that its light would illuminate my steps.
But I saw a toad! It was sitting near the first bathroom door. I’m very afraid of toads— the feeling that they can jump very high just when I’m walking by nearby terrifies me. At that moment, I had two choices: let myself be overcome by fear, or not go to the bathroom. The bathroom won.
Putting my fears aside, I walked as fast as I could and did not pay attention to the toad. I never stopped thinking about it, though, so leaving the bathroom was not easy for me. Afterwards, I became strong, again. In India everything was fabulous, so surely the toad must have also been very friendly.
My room was part of several rows of huts built around a large patio that was a garden of flowers and vegetables. The huts had simple mud brick walls and a dirt floor.
Here I was disconnected from the outside world and allowed to just connect with myself, listen to my thoughts, stop on the road, and contemplate the privilege of being there.
The next morning the locally sourced ingredients of our breakfast awaited us to be prepared by ourselves in the company of Mr. Ramesh and Mr. Prasanna, who was a former pupil of the National Drama School and a well-known playwright and director of the Kannada Theater. He had begun Charaka to fuel positive activism and the empowerment of rural women in the village of Heggodu.
Spotting Charaka’s Life
At 9:00 a.m. began the prayer. In a hall, all the employees of Charaka assembled to pray before beginning their labors full of creativity and color.
Mr. Ramesh accompanied me in each of the steps involved in making cloth, but sometimes I lost track of him; he was also working and had to assist his coworkers in daily chores.
I loved seeing the women working while I walked; everything that they made seemed like a masterpiece.
The process was to dye, weave, stamp, and sew and final details of each piece of clothing; large rooms were used for each task, and each stage had specialized personnel.
My journey was long. First, because I paid close attention to what Mr. Ramesh explained to me, and second, because I stopped to take pictures frequently. Every step I took seemed magical; sometimes I felt that I was teleporting in time back to when everything was done manually and during the day.
Behind the Charaka facilities of Charaka I spotted a hole in the ground; upon closer inspection, I realized it was a well.
The well went down very deep; I felt vertigo when I looked over the edge, but the women of the factory mastered the technique perfectly.
I felt that everything was very interesting there; each lifestyle is valid according to the circumstances in which its population unfolds.
Charaka taught me a life lesson: I liked being away from technology, taking advantage of the daylight and sleeping when night fell. I liked preparing food with the products planted in the village and having pets for 3 days—2 dogs and a goose were best friends, always together!
Every time I travel, I experience profound life lessons and feel healthy and full of energy. That feeling gives me the willpower to follow my heart to these faraway places.