Dec 14, 2011

The Permies

In Malaysia I met a team of permaculturists. The team was headed by an energetic man named Andrew Tay. In the group were also Kiat, Derrick, two young guys both named Karthik, mother-daughter pair Faizah-Almirah and last but not least, Selene. All of them Singaporeans. They were the "Permies". We volunteered in a sea-turtle conservation project in Tioman Island.

With them I worked in an organic farming experiment. It was part of sustainable living we're trying to implement on that conservation project. We sat up terraces for growing vegetables along the slope of a hill, we cleared small patches of land for farming in the rainforest and of course shifted a lot of soil, dirt, logs and rocks from points A,B,C to X,Y,Z.

I found Andrew to be the most energetic man in the group. On the first day, he had the energy to go for a swim in the ocean after working in the farm 5 hours straight. Later that night, we started chatting sitting on a wooden platform right next to the fields we had prepared during the day and stopped only after the dawn of the next day. Like two farmers we shared seeds of ideas with each other to work with on our respective fields.

Another guy I got to be close with was Kiat the creative. One evening after work, he sat on the platform in front of our room and started making amazing sounds with his ukulele. Later he sang one of his own songs too. Sitting there next to him, all my muscles sore from working, the humid air and itching on several parts of my body, his beautiful voice and ukulele ringing in my ears, watching the waves crush on the shore through some bushes at a distance, the smell of food cooking in the kitchen and the hunger in my stomach - all these sensations combined together I realized how a Malay farmer probably would have felt many years ago.

I worked on that farming project for two more weeks after the Permies had left. I dug up a big hole for making compost and framed it with coconut logs. I hope to make the permies proud when they go back to find it.