Winter stories from Aashram.Space

Jubin
5 min readMar 15, 2019

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Namashkaram!

This post is intended to be a documentation of the first 3 months that went by @ Aashram.space. We began as Baba Blacksheep and it is a name we connect with but the intention behind the place is that of an Aashram and since the domain was available… We thought, why not?

First of all, a huge hug to all those who made this possible. More than 10 people/families came together to help us fund the place (the B&B in Chougan, Bir and the mud house in Baadi, which is a 40 minute hike from Bir).

It has been an intense winter. All over the Himalayas and beyond. Snow, snow, snow, hail, rain, cold winds and what not! Bir doesn’t usually get snow but this time, it snowed twice and the mountains higher up have been under sheets of snow. Well into March now, the weather seems to be finally easing up a little and the sun is making its present felt…

We started the B&B late in December and would have hosted close to 20 guests (10–12 groups) in the last 3 months for varying lengths… Anul, Arpita and Sushma were our first guests just as the calendar was turning over a new leaf- 2019.

The new year ushered in a period of quiet and cold for a lot of self-reflection before the next set of guests came in. There have been a few interesting things going on:

  1. A lot of good soulful cooking

One of the intentions behind the space is for all to get involved in the process of making food. We generally have two meals in a day and a lot of experimentation- baking bread, cookies, making turmeric pickle, brewing ginger ale and more :-) This ensures that we reduce our consumption of packaged foods and also- home food is always so much nicer.

Ginger Ale and Muffin Bread

2. Waste management

This is a very tricky issue considering the location we’re in. At 1500m (just under 5000 ft), Bir is located pretty high up and like most places in the mountains of India, there are truck loads of supplies coming in but the packaging doesn’t usually find a way to go back. Believing that reduction is the first step, we ensure segregation in the house.

All hard plastic, soft plastic, paper and organic material is segregated. Organic material is fed to the cow or used for composting; paper is burnt during winters (and we’ll make some paper in the future) while plastic remains a challenge. For now, we’re making plastic bricks by stuffing soft plastic into bottles which can be later used for making temporary structures.

3. The inward journey

The most important- for any work to be pure, our inner self needs to be cleansed. And this probably can be achieved by finding tools which tune ourselves to the rhythm of the universe. It can be anything- running, making music, meditation, yoga asanas, paragliding (since we’re in Bir) or any other tool. At Aashram, we try to maintain a schedule of 2.5 hours in the morning (6–8.30am) for yoga asana and meditation. Everyone is invited for this; more the people, more the intensity.

4. Trekking, the mud house and more

Considering winter snow and rain, a lot of time has been spent indoors but we’ve managed some walks which have mainly been to the mud-house reconstruction site in Baadi. The work is yet to start since we have to begin with the roof… fingers crossed! Bir is full of beautiful walks in all directions and guests have enjoyed these little excursions.

5. Gift Economy?

We don’t really like to use this term but for the intellectual mind, this is what I can think of right now. Some initial discussions had led to the question- what should be the pricing for our guests since we’re an B&B? It’s pretty straightforward if one considers market economy but we just can’t put a price tag to this. We’re more like an open house under the garb of a B&B. So, it’s all run on a contribution basis. It’s a fluid and flexible way to run things. We’re here to serve, anyone looking for a quiet place to stay for a few days in the mountains, we’re open! We cook breakfast and provide while the rest of the day is open to serendipity. We have a contribution box in which guests can contribute whatever they feel like.

So, yes, this is what is happening at Aashram. Very early days and things are taking shape, you’re all welcome.

Sabka mangal ho, sabka bhala ho. We can be reached at jubinmenta09@gmail.com.

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