AnthillHacks 2022

You might like to read all parts of this series on a single page.

Day 2 (17th): The lay of the land

As I went to bed, the temperature was comfortably cool - enough to not require a blanket. At 4 AM, I woke with a start, found myself shivering, and hurriedly looked for an unoccupied blanket. This change in temperature was a routine nightly occurrence during my time there, and I was more prepared for it in the following days.

We were situated in IruWay Farm, in the village of Hālekote, Tumkur, Karnātakā. There was greenery everywhere, it was quiet, and the air was clean - a welcome change from the urban hell I was living in.

Figure 1: The dirt path connecting us to the main road downhill.†
Figure 2: The backdrop to IruWay.†

There's no cellular connectivity if you use Vodafone - BSNL and Jio were perhaps the only ones with coverage. The community runs a WiFi mesh network - the Community-Owned Wireless Mesh, abbreviated to COWmesh - which provides Internet access and local network services to the village. The link was down a lot, but it's still a lifesaver if you don't have cell reception. You can read more about it at and


The house I was living in was Dinesh's house, known to the participants as Jāgā. I mentally associated "Jāgā" with its Hindī meaning, i.e. some variation of "awake", but turns out it simply meant "place" or "space".

Figure 3: Jāgā from the outside.
Figure 4: The Jāgā kitchen/drawing-room.
Figure 5: The Jāgā kitchen/drawing-room.
Figure 6: As you go deeper into Jāgā…
Figure 7: …you enter the second room (that's my laptop and keyboard on the left)…
Figure 8: …a corner of which became my self-appointed bed for the event.
Figure 9: Continuing our way through Jāgā…
Figure 10: …the third room. The door exits the house on the other side.
Figure 11: Dinesh's bed, and the door to one of the bathrooms.

Just outside Jāgā lies a square of concrete where, every morning, one can see people practicing yoga (taught by Sanaj) and capoeira (taught by Hiuré).

Figure 12: The space outside Jāgā. Behind it are the roofs of the White House and the Gazebo.
Figure 13: A picture of my towel. It also happens to show Hiuré, Sanaj, Alice, and Tanya engaged in yoga, but the towel is clearly the critical part. 😏 Photograph by Rithikhā.†

The White House

Walking down the steps leading away from Jāgā brings you to the White House - which is a rather amusing name, since the one in IruWay is nothing like its famous American namesake in aesthetics. It was a dirty white in color. The verandah housed the community kitchen and served as a dining area. The kitchen also had a large sink with three taps, where we would clean up our dishes after eating. Inside was another living space for participants.

Figure 14: The White House from a distance.†

I got to meet a number of people at the White House -


AKA Voidspace. Sometimes referred to as "Chiguru Rām", to disambiguate him from his other two namesakes at AnthillHacks. I always got a good laugh out of the programming and sysadmin slogans featured on his clothing.

Figure 15: Rām and Sanaj in the White House.†

From Brazil. I saw her fixing the Jāgā water filter one day, and an inverter the other - the first instances of hacking (in the sense of tinkering) I encountered at AnthillHacks. Nicknamed "Āloo" and "Batātā" for her love of potatoes.

Figure 16: Tanya in the Red Cottage †
Max Fowler

A soft-spoken programmer and visual artist. He always seemed simultaneously younger and older than me - but he was a year younger. He was one of the people who lived in a tent, set up in the Gazebo at first, and later moved to a relatively remote corner of the mountain. If you have a sharp eye, he may be spotted in the mornings at a great distance uphill, exercising and meditating. Living in Germany for the past few years made him the only person here who knew any German, so we would sometimes converse in German. For some reason, I'd often mistakenly call him "Alex", despite knowing his name.

Figure 17: Max. Photograph by Rithikhā.†

The Red Cottage

A few meters downhill from the White House lies the Red Cottage1 Am I the only one who is reminded of the Red Baron? - the de facto headquarters of COWmesh maintenance; the place which puts the 'Hacks' in 'AnthillHacks'. I like how it has four little glass panels in the roof, which allow in enough sunlight that the room does not need any electric lighting during the day.

Figure 18: One of the few photos I could find of the Red Cottage.†
Figure 19: Tanya's netbook and its amazing assortment of stickers. So cool.
Figure 20: The table at the Red Cottage, looking only slightly less chaotic than usual.

The Gazebo

Right next to the White House is the Gazebo, where the shops were set up, where evening tea and snacks were prepared and served, and where the majority of talks and sessions were held.

Figure 21: Māhādev's shop in the Gazebo.
Figure 22: The shop of Probir Chitrakar (a Pattachitra artist) in the Gazebo. Pattachitra have songs associated with them, and he could often be heard singing the same to prospective customers.

In the afternoon, a trio of transgender women - who were part of a sect of singers known as the Jyogtīs - held a concert in the Gazebo. They sang folk songs, which I regrettably did not understand the lyrics of, although Dinesh did explain the themes of some of them.

Figure 23: Sitting in the Gazebo during the concert.

In the evening, I helped prepare pyāz ke pakore 2 At home, pyāz ke pakore meant cutting onions into roundels and dipping them into the wet besan batter - taking care to preserve their shape - before frying them. Consequently, I was a little surprised when Ms. Sarbani asked me to cut them into slices and mix them with dry besan, breaking up the slices in the process. I'm happy to have learned a whole new way of making pyāz ke pakore that day. and ginger-lemon tea for snacks and tea. The participants went down shortly afterwards to help erect the Bamboo Tower, which is exactly what it says on the tin - a bamboo tower, made to bolster the COWmesh's coverage.

Later, we had the session with Agnii, where participants were taught the basics of playing the djembe. It reminded me of my time doing musical theatre, in which I would provide singing lessons to the actors.

Figure 24: Photograph by Rithikhā.†