May 16, 2023

India Pt.1: Gokarna

India Pt.1: Gokarna

Over the precipice once again; searching for god knows what I jump a flight to Atlantis... I mean to Gokarna to meet Rishi in person for the first time; despite having shared a lot of time together online during the COVID period.

He'd met the Atlantis team at Refi Bangalore who were convening a gathering called "green pill festival"; a retreat for founders and hackathon builders. We stayed here for a week hanging out with their crew while workshopping our way forward into the unknown.

Arriving after 26 hours of travel I crashed out twice, only to awake at 4am in a jet lagged delirium before going for for a walk in the darkness to shake the fog. The atmospheres mysterious and electric, with chants vibrating through the air from across a nearby field. I attempt a search out the noise but am unable to locate the source so decide to vocalise in resonance instead while setting out for a walk across the beach. Suddenly there's scuttling all round my feet; zippity clacky clack ziiiiiiiip - what the hell are these funky creatures? They're fast as lightning and under the darkness of new moon it's impossible to discern.

Following another cycle of rest, I'm woken from a knock at my door; answering in my underwear I'm briefly introduced to an unexpected room mate that I'll be sharing space with who's name is Raj. "Come on in man, get yourself sorted - about time I got up anyway". Another knock, this time Kieran from the Atlantis team. "Do you wanna do some yoga?" he asks, "Great timing, yeah, that's just what I was thinking about" - "Ok then, its happening in ten minutes over on the beach!"

At this stage I'm feeling pretty much recovered from all the sleep and exercise and now realise what the night scuttlers were; crabs coming out of their burrows under cover of the new moon during low tide. As we do sun salutations on the sand a number of jokes are cracked about them emerging only to bite asses.

On my way back to shower, I cross paths with Guru who's a little concerned about the retreats programming and facilitation so offer a hand. We sit down to sequence and embellish the workshops he's put together and I'm thoroughly impressed by the containers developed based on Wilburs integral theory (essentially a western appropriation of Aurobindos work). As it turns out, I've little to contribute to the programme other than a few loose ideas as the workshops are set and well sequenced; the best I can offer is some reassurance in hopes of relieving pressure.

Utkarsh tangentially joins us at the table and we talk about the contextual realities surrounding regeneration and the forces that need to be confronted. It's refreshing to have a break from narratives as we dive into market jujitsu; he really gets this and over the rest of the week the two of us share a number of discussions; feet in the water we discuss cosmology, markets, science, technology, ideology and spirituality.

Without needing to say anything much there's a lot of resonance; our discussions are essentially pleasant verbalisations due to the novel sense of complementarity. We share and learn. One particular gem he informs me of is that the Vedics leveraged their precise cosmology to record historical events against planetary movements as a means of verification; more cosmological logistics!

As the weeks workshops play out the facilitators hold space well despite our open environment presenting distractions like the nearby juice stall. We dive into communication practices with Jacob from Terregeneration; a gentle soul who spent several years of his life cleaning up a mountain he and his partner moved to. As attention wanes with the approaching sunset other facilitator types like Didi step in to heard the cats and keep the timings on course.

As the light begins to fade with sunset over sea I spend a bit of time juggling which opens up a conversation with Jacob. In the meanwhile, Utkarsh playfully steals a stray ball and disappears with it probably believing his actions have gone unnoticed which leaves Jacob mildly nonplussed, informing me that "someone" has taken the prop. As our conversation winds down Utkarsh appears from the darknesse to reveal himself as the thief and return it as a fellow agent of balanced chaorder!

The final workshop is pure gold. It's a role playing game called "its just business" which leads to outright chaos. Participants are enrolled into a ficticious scenario regarding a fictional island and asked to inhabit roles within this multi-stakeholder ecosystem; there's an international airline looking to capitalise on tourism, the local government, fishermen, conservationists, youth, elders and such.

As we go about negotiations with eachother the occasional news flash is broadcast regarding the state of international affairs - which in turn changes the political dynamics. After the negotiation stage we return to a plenary session in order to articulate each groups positions to the government, who makes a final call on what's to happen while simultaneously trying to stay in power by appeasing all parties.

Ohhohoho man, this is when things got as fragmented as the house of commons during Brexit; there was tons of booing, hissing and an almighty racket as the various factions fought over their values. It was brutal and many of the representatives were genuinely rattled by the uproar and froze. The youth were particularly disruptive having made an alliance with the airlines (who having dismissed the fishermen had "we've got boats" repeatedly chanted at them - yes guilty, that was me)...

Finally the government made their decision to allow the airport and were unanimously voted out of power - even by the airlines - who as it turns out, had embraced corruption by impersonating the government in order to achieve their ends! What a bloody mess... but thankfully only a simulation! You can't win them all.

The 'business' consortium

Sunday is our day in Gorkana and a few special guests are passing through to see whats happening. A green investor that Pranav knows and Grishna a cosmic Russian touring India in search of wisdom who offers us a tea ceremony. In the evening we say our goodbyes and head to Bangalore.