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Neema Neema
At 5 o'clock in the morning we have met her during Kiran's "Star-show" at the Hill Queen Restaurant. She was there with about ten students of the Lakshmi Ashram.

"Understand the mind of human being because this is the instrument to understand nature. And nature is truth and love and god."

Where are you born? What do you like of this town/area/country? I was born in a very small village nearby Kausani, in Dola. Now there are only 20 people living in Dola, in formertimes it may be about 40. It`s beautyful place. You have a nice view from a bit above. When I was young I enjoyed walking around the village, talking with the neighbours (while my family stayed at home). I liked this village feeling, it's like one big family. Life was simple.

Now it's changing, relations are breaking, people are thinking more and more materialistic. And they are moving into the cities and try to work - e.g. in restaurants and hotels - but still want to live in the mountains. If people get educated they have other aims. They want a job in an office and live a more luxurious live. But the education prepares only for the job and not for the live. And if they don't find a job they are often very disappointed.

Now I live in the Lakshmi Ashram in Kausani. It was founded by Sarla Bhan in 1946. She came to India from UK in 1932 and lived in several Ghandi Ashrams before Mahatma Ghandi sent her to the mountains to recover from an illness. She recognized the strong mentality of the women in the villages and decided to offer them an intellectual education. And so she founded this Ashram which is lead according to Ghandis ideals.

In our Ashram we try to prepare our pupils to the real live. I love this place and it's location in the hills. And I like this mountain area with the terrasses and the life in the small villages where people are helpful and understand each other. The women in these mountain areas are very strong, mentally as well as physically. Often they have to manage a lot of things because the man is out for doing another job, e.g. in the service area.

What I like about India?
The indian culture is great. I like the clear philosophies. And I like the very strong family system. Your individual development starts here. Arranged marriages can be good or bad, it depends mainly on the parents.

Did you ever travel and what was your farest / nicest travel. Where would you like to travel next? I was travelling to the Shevagram Ashram in Maharashtra and to the Ghandi Ashram in Ahmedabad in Gujarat. The farest and nicest travel was in 1998 to Denmark. I was invited to stay there for 3 months but I was thinking a lot if should really go. It was a strange feeling to get to the airport and into the plane. Was that really me who is doing this trip? I was afraid of the foreign country and the foreign language. But as soon as I arrived and friends picked me up at the airport I was happy.

I lived in different folk-highschools and colleges and spend some time in Sweden and Norway. I tried to understand the different cultures. It is important to see with your own eyes and make your own experiences. In our Lakshmi Ashram are a lot of foreigners to talk to, but that's not enough.

Where would you like to travel next? I would like to go to the south of India. I love the sea. And I have a lot of friends there who invited me.
Do you have an idea of Germany? No, I don't have any idea about Germany.
What events are you celebrating? Christmas. We decorate a pine tree on the 24th december and in the evening Santa Claus is coming. On the following day we perform a cultural program in the villages.

On January 14th we celebrate Maker Sankranti. We make toys out of flowers, dry them in the sun and boil them in oil. Then we pose them to crows and hope they eat at least parts of these toys. We believe that the crows represent our forefathers.

How do you usually move yourself? By foot.
Do you live with other people? I live in the Lakshmi Ashram, together with 70 other girls and women.
What are you doing in your leisure time? When I am alone I like to read about philosophy. Together with others I like to do discussions about work and thoughts.
Which very good experience did or do you enjoy in your life? The trip to Denmark in 1998. Another experience that has moved me was in October 2001 when I was taking the responsibility for this Ashram. It was a hard decision, but it makes my mind and body stronger.
Do you have one or more special wishes? I would like to do good work for the girls in the Ashram, so that they are prepared well for their lives.
Do you have any message for our readers or us? Be a good human being. Understand the mind of human being because this is the instrument to understand nature. And nature is truth and love and god. All is one.
Neema, 32 years old, Teacher and head of the Lakshmi Ashram, Kausani, Uttaranchal.
9th December 2002.

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