This post is describing our days in Auroville. I write this post as much to remember these wonderful days for my self, as for you guys. Keep this in mind while reading.
When travelling with bus in India, the bus makes at least one major break for toilet and food, and it’s always in the middle of nowhere, a place you would never otherwise see. This night when we travelled from Kodaikanal to Pondicherry, the moon was full and bright. I was watching it when I meet Matan, an Israeli traveller with the same destination as us. It’s so funny that there are so many Israelis in Vattakanal but we didn’t manage to speak to a single one, so now that I have the chance, I had to ask about the “Hummus trail”. Matan says it’s a real thing, it’s like a route which many Israelis takes through the country. The name makes me giggle even now.
Matan had been smarter than us and had reserved a place to sleep beforehand, thus he had somewhere to go when we arrived in Pondicherry at 3:40 AM. We thought we’d reach around 7 or 8 so me, August and an Austrian guy named Georg found ourselves without shelter. We walked through the empty streets of Pondicherry, which used to be a French colony, until we reached the sea. We slept on the beach, right next to a big statue of Gandhi. Already at 4:30 in the morning, people were jogging and power-walking on the beach walk, making me feel like we were on the French riviera and not on the east coast of India. We did actually manage to get some sleep and when we woke up the beach walk was FULL of people exercising. One guy was running backwards. I could sit there all day just watching these enthusiastic people run up and down the beach 😛
We had a solid Indian breakfast with pori (fried bread filled with air) and idli (rice patty) and chai and then Georg had some errand to run so we exchanged phone numbers and went our separate ways. We got on a bus heading north and got off in Kuilyapalliam on the East Coast Road. Our destination was Auroville, this social experiment started by a French woman named Mirra Alfassa, better known as “The Mother” in 1968. I have decided to make two separate posts about Auroville, one about the place and one about our experience, because our experience isn’t so relevant to what Auroville actually is about. To read the more informative post about Auroville, klick here. Our first encounter with Auroville, is when we walked into Auroville Bakery with our backpacks, still not sure where to go. Auroville bakery has good coffee at a good price, really good bread and cakes. As French as it gets in India I think, it even says “Boulangerie” on their sign. From there we found a place nearby called Youth Camp with good reviews. They didn’t have any rooms, so we got into the dorms. Only problem was that we were placed in different dorms, and that does not fly with me! But as we walk into the place, we meet Matan again, the Israeli from our bus. We didn’t talk much then, and me and August took a long nap before eating at a place called Maiyan (later we found out that Kyle worked there for a while in December). Getting to the visitors center inside Auroville would have taken a while, if we hadn’t taken a rickshaw 😉 My first feeling walking into the visitors center is “Where am I?” then “WTF is this?” then “This whole The mother thing is creeping me out, lets get out of here!” The visitors center is the fanciest visitors center I have ever seen. It looks like the entry to a very fancy museum or a castle or something. Its all white and has excellent cafes and world class ice cream but we didn’t know about this the first time we set foot inside the visitors center. All I could see was how much money was put into the center and quotes from “The Mother” everywhere. Our mission there was to get bicycles, but getting to the visitors center we realised how far it was. Auroville is big! We bought a map over the place and then started walking back. Half way back we meet Georg, the Austrian who also had been sleeping on the beach that morning with us. He was staying at the African Pavilion right next to the visitors center and had gone into Pondicherry to get booze and petrol and were flying around Auroville on his moped, which he loved! We decided to meet up later and me and August continued our walk. After walking another 20 min, Matan stops and picks us up. He takes us to the place where he rented his scooter and we also get one. Having a scooter is freedom, and I think it’s thanks to Matan that we even got one, due to it being a lot of tourists at the time!
We come home, just minutes before Georg arrives. We are going to the beach to drink our beer and we invite Matan to come also. He says he does indeed want to join. We all pause for a second, then he says “Are we going right now?” and we say yes 😛
Unfortunately all the beaches close at 6 pm. They claim that it is dangerous at the beach in night, and many drunk Indians has perished in the sea after dark. So we stood in the parking lot, drinking our beer. This first night I learned my first word in Hebrew: Abonafra, meaning blowfish (it’s actually arabic, but hebrew uses it) . We had great talks about space and pollution, and we all could agree on so many things. A friendship was established. Oh yeah and we saw a moon rise!! so beautiful.After we finished our beer we went back to Youth Camp and chatted a little before going to sleep. Not sharing a bed with August sucks, so my mood got worse every night we were apart.
Next day Matan and August went to a morning meditation at 5 AM for the birthday of the Mother .I didn’t go because it was too early. At this point I had gotten a roommate also, named Jennifer from Toronto. Really great woman.
Georg left the very next day. We did have time to visit the Botanical garden and running into Matan on the way back, exchanging phone numbers with him and we had some chill time at the beach during daytime with more beers and some swimming. Matan joined us for this also. Georg was headed to the Andaman Islands, which belong to India but are closer to Thailand. He should still be there as of writing this. That first night after parting from Georg, August, me and Matan went to the African Pavilion for their drum circle. It was great! A really good party, with a lot of people and everyone was dancing around the bonfire in the center.
Opening and closing song of the drum cricle
“We are circling, circling together
We are singing, singing our heart song
This is family, this is unity
This is celebrations, this is sacred”
Friday we went on a tour of Solitude farm. It’s a very well organised farm with a great garden cafe. Sitting there, waiting for the tour to start we see Claire and Picou from Navdanya walk in! It felt very natural to see them in that environment, and we have some time to catch up before the tour started! Funny thing is, I was thinking of them just that day or the day before! Claire and Picou are going home to France to take over Picou´s family farm and they are going organic! I wish them the best of luck with this! The Solitude farm tour was very inspiring, and lunch after was great. We have more time to catch up with Claire and Picou and we decide to meet again.
Later that day, at 4 pm I think, we joined a tour of Sadhana Forest, a reforestation project started in the beginning of this century by an Israeli family of four. They offer a tour of their place, a movie and free dinner. It was nice 🙂
I don’t remember when it was, but in those first three days we went to the information office for activities in Auroville, on top of the Solar Kitchen. The woman gives us some words of caution: Don’t forget why you came here.
Youth Camp definitively wasn’t the place for us, and after 3 nights Matan was leaving and Jennifer had gotten a room. We even said goodbye to Matan as he left Youth Camp. It was time for us to move on also, so we go to the African Pavilion. Georg had slept in his hammock there so we thought maybe it was time for us to try out our hammock that we’d been dragging along for five months now.. 😛
So we go there, Tahir wants us to pay 150 per night per person, which is an amazing price for Auroville.
In the African Pavilion our real Auroville experience begin
There are mostly Israelis there, but they seem nice. After a while Matan walks in, turns out he’s also staying in the African Pavilion, sounds like more than coincidence, don’t you think? Already that first day, the guy who runs the African Pavilion, Tahir has a spontaneous contact dance course with us. Its great, because it pulls me out of my bad mood that not sleeping in the same room as August has put me in.
That evening we went to Dharma Swasti, a restaurant run by a French woman. A band called Duo Artemisa preformed. It was like Fastpoholmen but in spanish. They come from Argentina and were financing their trip around the world through performing their original music. Me and August had a table right front and center of the stage and I am sure the sound was the best right where we were sitting. Food was amazing. I had a pumpkin soup that was out of this world, seriously!
When we come back from having dinner, Matan is sitting with four other Israelis, and August just pulls up a chair and just like that, we have a crew. Such amazing people these Israelis, so beautiful and basically European. I will never again complain about them being in the Eurovision Song Contest! Israelis are westerners, this has been established, even though they live in the middle east. So, those first Israelis we met, Johnny, Shacha, Savit and Nama (please excuse my spelling) were such beautiful people, but three of them left only a day or two after we first met that night, when August pulled up that chair. When we say we come from Sweden Johnny says “Isn’t Sweden like the best country in the world?” 😛 We have this running joke with Kyle that Sweden is in fact the best country in the world, you can read the story behind it in our Vattakanal post.
On Sunday we have our first date with the Matri Mandir, the huge golden globe that Aurovillians spent 30 years to build, after a vision from the Mother..To go there you have to register. Its not open for all tourists, because it’s a place for silent meditation. The first time you go there it’s a whole group thing, with a propaganda video at first and then some info from the guide, well inside the garden of the Matri Mandir. It looks like a spaceship, like somewhere inside the ball there is an engine that will make it all lift and fly away with the chosen ones or something. Its a very impressive building, click HERE to go to my more informative post about Auroville to read about what the Matri Mandir is about. Anyway, the inside of the building is almost better than the outside, and enhance the feeling that we all were on a spaceship. All in white marble. You have to put on white socks to not get the white carpets dirty. They must have a huge laundry machine. In the inner chamber, which is the main attraction of the Matri Mandir, we got maybe 15 min with the group to sit in silence. Some people coughed and they were kicked out of the room. The acoustics are great in there, so everything echos. We sign up for another visit the very next day, but this time without the group. You sign up in the office where you leave your bags. Just ask. Below is a pic of the Matri Mandir.
I think it was that night, on the Sunday, when there was a the Beatles tribute concert at the visitors center. We went there with our Israelis and danced in the front row, at least with Matan and Johnny. I really liked that we were moving in those circles of Israelis, they seem to have an ability to chill with any Israeli they meet, but still, when the Israelis were swarming, Matan still stepped out now and then to stand with us. I really appreciate that. It’s hard to try to uphold a conversation in English, when the majority speaks another language, we know this and understand it, and we are cool with is also. I am pretty sure we ate ice cream this day as well.
We went back to the Matri Mandir at 9 to see the smaller rooms in the so called petals (more about those in my other post), in which we got 50 minutes. We had to chose one of the petals before entering the park, and August picked Sincerity and I picked Generosity. Only 10 people are allowed in the petals at a time. Its quiet and every room has a colour, my room was purple and August room was light blue. All the time in there I was worried about time, that I’d miss going into the chamber so I couldn’t really relax. You cannot bring your phone into the park, so I was timeless. After maybe 40 min I went out to sit at the pond below the golden globe. That is probably my favourite place in and around the Matri Mandir. I like the sound of the water.
After sitting there a while, I see August exiting his petal and right as he gets out a gong rings, meaning it’s time to enter the chamber. This time our experience is better, because there are fewer of us.
After we’ve been in the chamber we meet Claire and Picou outside in the park. We sit and talk for a long time, so long that the park closed before we got out. We went for lunch in the Solar Kitchen, where you need an Aurocard to pay, so they bought us lunch! 😀 And what a lunch it was. It’s a buffet, with fresh salad and mashed potatoes, two things I greatly miss here in India. I think I ate more than August did even. They are so smart these two French people, and I really appreciate hearing about their experience of Auroville, Picou had been there for three weeks I think when we saw them, and Claire had just arrived after a short visit to Thailand. They were staying with an Aurovillian and answered many of our questions about the place. They have the same dream as us, basically; farming, but they are a lot closer than us to realizing this dream and I am excited to follow their progress. Claire and Picou were leaving Auroville for a few days the day after this meet I think, so we say good bye and see you in France!
Just as we come back to the Pavilion, our group, consisting of Matan, Johnny and Mayan are just about to go for lunch. Johnny know this one place where you can get unlimited meals for 50 rupees. We come along as company, cause I cannot eat anything else after that awesome lunch! The other three Israelis has already left and we are sad that we didn’t get to say good bye. But on the way to the dahba (place to eat) we see them on the road! Fate plays us again! (And Pappa, one of these girls lived like 10 min from your Kibutz!)
For the record, it really was unlimited meals for 50 rupees at that place. It’s the first time we really spoke to Mayan, and our main crew was formed. That evening we had beer in the African Pavilion and Johnny leads a game in which you say a number between 1 and 350 I think and each number has a question. For example, “what is the best and the worst with your home town?”, very random, but clean I think, so its not like Never have I ever and all that shit. Johnny later said that during this time we became friends, getting to know each other a little more over a beer. I love these people, really, they are very real, straight up and honest and oh so beautiful in more than one way! ❤
Special Interest on the Israel topic
We talk a lot with the Israelis, we have a million questions about their upbringing and life in their country, because all we see in Sweden from Israel is about the Palestine conflict. On our first day in the African Pavilion Shacha tells me that Swedish people doesn’t like Israelis. Come to think about it, Sweden isn’t very fond of Israel, we are the only western country who has declared Palestine a state!
But the people are not the same as the government, their government sucks and none of the people we met resonate with the current Israeli government. We loved to hear about their experience from the army, especially August who is very interested in conflicts. All Israelis have to join the army, for two years if you are female and three years if you are male. The people we met had jobs like tank commander, medics, special needs unit, logistics… The army somehow decides what position you would be suitable for, I don’t know based on what. No females outside the country, women could guard the borders but not go over them. A mission could consist of going to someones home who is selling weapons, for example, and arrest them. One of our friends who was a medic experienced a guy being shot in his head, he survived, but still! I think that they liked to talk about their experience in the army, because they didn’t talk much about it with each other. If I were in their situation I would need to talk about it I think. And also we asked a million questions! And now that I write this I have more questions 😛 Its hard to retell what we spoke about afterwards like this, because I don’t want to get anything wrong. But in short, all Israelis need to serve their time in the army, the whole country is not a war zone, the army isn’t for everyone, but Israel needs an army so what are you gonna do? All these people were our age also, around 23, 24, which makes it easier to relate. They are “on call” for the army until they turn 30. But at some point we kinda had enough of the army talks. Another topic we just barely grazed is religion in Israel. They learn about Judaism early in school, and it’s not like in Sweden where it’s important to show equally much of all main religions, no, only one religion. In Israel more and more people are becoming religious while less and less people are religious in Sweden. We learned about the Sabbath on Saturday and that the whole country stops because of the Sabbath, not even public transportation runs! That’s even worse than Germany on Sundays! I feel like religion is a sensitive topic, so it’s something I have to think about before I start asking all the questions. Its easier for me to relate to joining the army than having a religious upbringing 😛 But Matan said one great thing, that in the bible there are stories from our past, there are definitely things to be learned from the bible. When we go to Israel to visit all these lovely people I will have my questions prepared.
Early morning we go to the Buddha Garden to volunteer. Its a very nice farm and we are maybe 10 volunteers who show up at 6:15 in the morning. Johnny is with us and we all get some work. For approx 4 hours work we get breakfast at the Buddah Garden. Johnny is so hilarious, because all he can think about is food. He goes from breakfast to Chai, to fika, to lunch, to ice cream to chai, to fika to dinner 😛 Every day he eats at least five times. So funny. So I’m not sure but I guess he went for second breakfast after Buddha garden breakfast! August picked chilies at first and later worked with the compost. They have a great way to deal with organic matter and that was to give it to the chickens. They then picked trough it and ate all the bugs, what was left was then used for composting. I was weeding. I was so tired the first two hours, and then I started sneezing like crazy, I thought it was allergies but it continued all day. It’s fun to weed, and after a while I start talking to people, and the owner of the farm, an older lady who has been living in Auroville for 23 years, comes to talk to me about Auroville, she gives me some village gossip, something not even a utopia like Aruoville can escape 😉 It was Picou who said we should go to the Buddha garden to volunteer, we’d get breakfast at 9 am but he wasn’t there that morning!
On Tuesday we had one more week to go. We tried to find a bakery named Ganesh Bakery that was supposed to be good, but as always, Google maps gives us the shortest way, but not the best way, so we end up in a village and from there, come out from the dirt roads at a place called Sound Garden. It’s a garden full of cool musical instruments. The place is doing research on musical instruments and there are a lot of cool stuff that makes cool noises. Definitely worth a visit!
There were some construction going on at Ganesh Bakery so we continued up the road, passed Verité and found Naturellement, with a garden cafe. Naturellement makes jams and marmalades and syrups from local fruits, the people who has it is a 100 percent Swedish, for sure! It’s such a Swedish thing to do! They also had a Scandinavian egg sandwich on the menu. 100 % Swedish. So the prices were through the roof, but they had a pesto that smelled soooooo good that we just had to try it! So for 400 rupees I get a big plate of tagliatelle, and the pesto is amazing, for sure, but somehow they failed with the pasta… its such a basic thing to do, just boil it the correct time, rather too little than too much. But cooking pasta seems to be an issue all over India, even in Europe in India.
That evening we wanted to go to what we thought was a lecture by the guy who runs Solitude farm, but it was more like a performance, where the guy, Krishna sang his own music and served small bites of food made from local plants. It wasn’t a lecture and we didn’t like it very much so we went back home after that to chill again in the African pavilion.
I’m not sure when, but one of these days a van pulls up to the African pavilion, containing one Dekel and one Miro. They are also in our little crew. They serve coffee in the morning. Its hard to keep track of what happened when!
In the morning Kyle arrives in Auoville. He hijacks August, who goes to the East Coast Road to pick him up, and I chill with Matan and Johnny. I cannot recollect what August and Kyle did, but I had time to eat lunch with Matan, then with Johnny and Matan, then we went home and had ice cream at the visitor center and then I slept on the floor of the African Pavilion for a couple of hours. I wasn’t feeling so good that time, I had a little cold, so just passed out on the floor. Kyle and August returns while I am sleeping. In the afternoon we tried to go to something called a Sound Bath in the Unity pavilion. We rush there and when we reach it is canceled. So then we want to go to an arts and crafts market at the Youth center, but on the way we meet Johnny, who says its all over. So we go back home. That evening we try to go back to Dharma Swasti for dinner but they didn’t have any live performance that night so instead we go to a north Indian place for dinner. We did have plans, and we really wanted to do some stuff, but we just had some bad luck with our planning. We are a big group, the six of us and Yehonatan ( don’t know if you read this Michael, but he reminded me a lot of you)) and a girl named Safir.
Afterwards everyone were tired so we returned home and just chilled for the rest of the night. Kyle stayed with Mayan in her tent that first night, and somehow the termites decided that this was the best tent to be under. They make a sound like waves in the sea, coming and going in equal intervals. They are white and they can fly! Termites are so cool, but I wouldn’t want them under my ear in the night. Even after they moved the tent they still stayed under Mayans tent. She is the Queen of the termites, for sure!
Early morning we go to the Matri Mandir for meditation and a bonfire, to celebrate the 51st birthday of Auroville. They play some music and a recording of the Mother speaking. I think she spoke in french… It was too many people for it to be nice. People were taking photos with flash, farting, coughing and snoring and apparently, shortly after we left, people started running down to the fire, posing with the urn with all the soil from the countries and Indian states that participated in the inauguration ceremony of Auroville, on the 28th of February, 1968.
After that we went home and back to sleep. For breakfast we meet an Aurovillian who connected to me via Instagram. Her name is Inge and her roots are Dutch and French. She has been living in Auroville since she was nine, now she is 29, with a break for university in the Netherlands. I interview her for a good hour and it’s really fun to hear her perspective on it all! I didn’t write down the interview, but in this other post I made, I’ve summarized some of the things she explained to us:) Click here to read that post. Thank you, Inge for taking time to see us, we had a blast! ❤
Later, when we come back from breakfast, the people had awoken and we go to the beach. It’s August, Johnnie, Yehonatan, Mayan and Matan and me of course. We get some beers and go swimming and tried to build a beer cooler, with little success. Yehonatan brings us back to the 2000nds by singing really old, dangerously catchy pop-songs. There are beautiful shells along this coast, and the beach is very empty. Dirty of course, but not terribly so. We didn’t find any more abonafras but we did see some cool live crabs. We had a great time on the beach, talking about our peoples, our countries and different pressures and ideals that has been put on us from our respective cultures, and of course; the army. I don’t know how many times I’ve tried to explain or heard August explain what conscription is like in Sweden! I learn that Israel has two seas, one dead and one red, except from the Mediterranean , and that there are several Kibutzes’ and that those are green and lush, and not all the country is desert, as was my image of Israel. Matan worked with horses in the past even, and I know they need grass to eat 🙂
That evening we went to do something called Laughing Yoga. Yehonatan had recommended it to us, and after sleeping in a hammock, yoga felt like a great idea. So it was me, August, American Johonnie, Johnny and Mayan. Only there was no yoga as I percieve yoga It was terrible! We had to fake laugh for two hours, be all cozy with sweaty strangers, listen to fart jokes and see the teacher be all buddy buddy with his palls. It’s not enough that we paid for it, the guy also took more time than he’d said he’d do, so we came late to the drum circle. Me, August and Mayan had promised we were going to help in the kitchen for the drum circle, so Tahir lost three workers, which is a lot if you only have six in total! We arrive just as the opening circle is about to end. We end up helping out by sitting at the gate for the rest of the circle and charge people an entry fee. A super weird thing happened, a couple with a maybe three year old son comes in and wants to enter for free. They say it’s expensive with a family in Auroville and I totally understand, if you have very little money. But they act like they are hunted, like we are going to take something from them, the child starts crying when we compliment his shirt, and it’s all a very strange situation. We only charge a 100 rupee for adults, not children. We end up letting them in, just asking them to donate what ever they can… It was a really strange situation. The strangest thing happened when I was dancing also, I accidentally hit a girl, maybe 8 or 9 years old, and I put my hand on her cheek as an apology, and she puts her hand on mine… A Swedish child would never do that. I am amazed by the Aruovillian children, I’ll tell you more later.
After the drum circle the party continues inside the Pavilion, and its like 20 Israelis, singing songs in hebrew. It’s great, but we don’t really know how to fit in to all that. Johnny even asks us if it’s too much. Thank you for your concern Johnny. Ain’t nobody gonna speak English when there are 20 Israelis and two non hebrew speakers. The vibe is great though, but we sneak away early to sleep in our hammock. Kyle has at this point his very own tent.
Next day we had breakfast with Mayan, Yehonatan, Matan and a new guy named Eli, also Israeli. Mayan knew him from before and he slid right in to our little group. We ate at Marc’s Cafe. Great coffee, and an amazing croissant, best one I’ve had in India for sure! It would be a very good croissant even in Sweden, maybe not in France, but definitively in Sweden. The owner, Marc, is Italian I think.
After that we get Kyle and go to this pool in the Evergreen community. On the way there I see two people I know, the South Africans from Navdanya! Nev and B!! The guy, Nev, that August worked with in Cape town a year back! I am not suprised to see them either, but I get so excited I scare the shit out of Johnny who is giving me a ride. He thought someone had died or something… We decide to meet on Sunday for a Potluck in their community, called Fertile, the original tree planters of Auroville. So after that we get to the Evergreen community, where Yehonatan is staying with some friends. The system with this pool is so cool. It’s basically a tank that they fill up using solar power in the afternoon, to irrigate the farm in the morning next day. And they just put tiles in the tank and made it into a pool with nice, clear water, where you can swim in the afternoon. Johnny took a photo of us there, I hope he sends it to me! But here is another one that I took:
Eli left us here to go to the Sadhana forest to check it out. He later went there to volunteer. I wrote about the Sadhana forest a little earlier, they have a free tour every Friday. Mayan and Matan manage to get down a papaya from the tree.
Its delicious. The seeds taste like pepper, a little spicy. Its an amazing fruit. August didn’t like it, because the outside was moldy. But that was all in his head; it tasted great! But you can tell he is displeased in this photo:
Maybe it’s this day that Mark, the American arrives to the Pavilion. We immediately invite him to come with us for dinner, and go to a place that I don’t know by any other name than the “Stoner Cafe”. It’s not it’s real name, but it’ll have to do. They serve a Thali buffet, all vegan with a great sallad and for 80 rupees only! They also have an amazing vegan hot chocolate! It’s made out of raw cacao, jaggery and roasted peanut milk ❤ it was soooo tasty, and filling, it was a whole meal in it self!
That night we have a party in the Pavilion. We ask Clapton, who took over from Tahir a few days back, if it’s ok, and he brings his friends, and we bring our friends, and we have a camp fire and a great party until 12:15 or so. That night was perfect. Matan said I was a good hostel (probably meaning host haha). Me and Matan were the booze crew, always going to get the beers! I really enjoyed those moments ❤
Yehonatan leaves to go to Thailand. Its sad, and its the beginning of the end. Eli joins the Sadhana forest and another Johnathan joins our crew. The night before I named him Johnny three, but he will be referred to as Johnathan from now on. Another van also pulls up containing one Asaf, also Israeli. Kyle is leaving in the evening, he was supposed to go the day before, he has to go to Madurai for a month locked in in an Ashram doing a yoga teacher training course, but he postpones his arrival due to an injury. He went to the Swedish hospital, consisting of me and August, cause as you might remember, “the basic education in Sweden makes every Swedish person have the knowledge of your average doctor”;)
That day we go back to the pool in the evergreen, another crew goes to the beach, so it’s just me, August and Mayan. We have a great time at the Evergreen, we get company from a 16 year old Aurovillian who has set up an animal shelter by himself and does extra work as a professional snake catcher. He catches all kinds of snakes, cobras to big tree snakes. And we have seen some big snakes in Auroville, 10 times the size of our pathetic Swedish snakes. Such an amazing kid. We get kicked out later though, and go back to the pavilion. That evening we go to Youth Camp for pizza night; all you can eat pizza for 200 rupees. That’s a great price and it really was all you can eat! But we had to que a lot.On the way there I went with Johnny on his scooter because he travels with a really good speaker. So we sang Comfortably Numb, along woth Matan and Mayan and August who were all three on Matans scooter right behind us. That was a great moment ❤
They made everything fresh and they could only put two pizzas in the oven at the same time, but the queing was worth it. They had vegan pizza also, and Matan and Mayan are vegans, kind of, they don’t eat cheese at least. There was an abundance of vegan pizza, and no one but them would eat it, so every time there was vegan pizza they’d call out and all the vegans would cut the line to get their serving. They had like 2, 3 servings in the time we had one. Johnny taught us a new expression, “open eyes”, its when you get jealous, like “Mayan, you get this much pizza and we get nothing!” Don’t give open eyes. Kyle and Dekel decided that they were vegan too, and got their fair share of pizza. But everyone became satisfied in the end. We had some issues with people cutting the cue though. The queuing is a very interesting social phenomena to study in Auroville, because although Auroville is located in India, you have to stand in line like in a European country. Some Indian people were standing in a separate que while we were standing in the “right” que, and this tall man (maybe he was German) says that they are standing in the children’s que and they protest but then finally, they move to the back of the line. In India you just push trhough to the counter, the quing system is a little “looser” than in Europe. Its such a small thing, but still a huge difference! Which reminds me, We were listening to what the Aurovillian children were talking about, and they were so rational, and emphatic towards each other. They had an argument, and this little boy, maybe he was 12 tried to make an older girl see a situation from the perspective of the person she was upset with. And they are so diverse these children! All colours and they have even their own English accent.
Kyle leaves and goes “see ya” and tries to escape without a hug. We will go see Kyle this summer when we go to Germany ❤ lots of love to you Kyle, hope this makes you laugh after coming out with a Yoga Teacher certificate!
Shaun arrives right when Kyle leaves. Its such good timing it must almost have been planned! He writes that he is in the African pavilion when we are at the Youth Center, and we see him when we are chilling later in the pavilion.
Me and August are supposed to go to the potluck at Fertile community to meet Nev and Bee, but we have a ton of bike problems. First, our first bike decides to stop when driving and then it didn’t start, even though we changed the engine oil and the silencer the day before. Johonatan drives past just as we start walking and takes me to somewhere I can get petrol. But gas wasn’t the problem! So I go to get a new bike, and I get a moped. The son of the guy who owns the bike rental is supposed to follow me back to the pavilion to take a look at the other bike, but he runs out of petrol somewhere in the middle, so I lost him. August is very happy to see me back with a bike, and we go into Kuyiliapallyam to get some fruits for the potluck! After 5 min the bike dies. We manage to start it again,and after another minute it dies again. We have to walk home and we missed the potluck. Instead Jennifer, my old room mate from the Youth Camp pulls up and offers me a lift into the village, she shows up all dressed in white, like a saint! She drops me outside the place, and I walk in laughing to the bike rental. I met the son in the door, Mohan, and together we laugh at my terrible luck. He gives me the new, fancy, 400 rupees-per-day-bike and I drive away very happy, with a promise that I’ll take care of it.When we come home, the dutch girl Zita has plans to go to this quarry lake and we get to come with! Its like a 45 min drive but I am loving it. When we were in Goa we’d see these beautiful people going in bike caravans, with three four bikes in a line. We wondered back then how that happened. Now it happened to us. And I loved it! We were 10 and a half people on five bikes (the half one is Claptons baby daughter), flying on the good roads of Tamil Nadu.
The quarry was wonderful. There were some people there already, but it was fine. We spoke some to a British woman who spent her winters in the area. It was clean at the place, no plastic and we had brought watermelons which we played with in the water. They float! You could climb up and jump from the edge, maybe 6, 7 meters up, and almost all of us did it. Shaun had brought his swimming kit and were exercise swimming across the lake, while we were playing around. I loooved it, because I could be a 100% sure there were no crocodiles or sharks in this lake. Here are some pictures:
Going back home, the trip turnes sour. Mark had a minor accident going only 15 km/h, but he got a big hole in his knee. We made it home and we tried to tend to it, cause the medical center in Auroville was closed due to it being Sunday. Mark was flying out the next day to Sri Lanka, so we had to make his knee well enough to travel. August and Clapton tended to it. Mark carried some antibiotics and he promised he’d take them at the least sign of fever! I am so happy we got our disinfectant and our gauss and sterile compresses in Goa after August had his minor accident. We have had a lot of use for it! Next time we go travel, we will bring a proper medical kit.
At 7 we are supposed to go to a traditional music event with Nev and B, but we have to eat first, so we arrive late. It’s nice music though, but we couldn’t really talk so we decide to try again the next day.
In the evening we had some beer and talked about lots of things. My phone had died and wouldn’t start again so I was accepting that I now had to live without a phone. We talked a lot to Mark, he was so nice to us, saying that mine and August love could be felt through out the group ❤ And that he felt like me and August were his kinsmen, because we know all the American slang and way of speech. He definitely has a point in that, people have even asked us if we are Americans! We meet such wonderful people. I have no contact info from Mark, so I hope that you come across this by accident.
Mayan leaves us to get to Nepal. She doesn’t have a booking of any sort, but I know now that she made it! Its a very sad goodbye, but we’ll meet again in Israel, or by random somewhere in the world <3. After saying good bye to Mayan we have a date with Inge, the Aurovillian, to go into the Matri Mandir on Aurovillian time. It is somewhat different. Everybody knows each other, and the atmosphere is familiar and relaxed. There are not so many of us in the chamber and the deafening silence of the chamber lasts for minutes without anyone making any sound. It’s great!
After that Inge takes us to La Terrace, which is a café on top of the Solar kitchen. We talk more about Auroville and we get to ask questions about what we have experienced since we last met. I am very interested in identity and we talk a lot about the children growing up in Auroville. I’ve put some of what we spoke about in another more informative post, which you can read if you click here, if you haven’t already. We asks the guy in the counter to take a photo of us, and he takes like 10, but this is the best one.
Next time we come to Auroville we’d love to see Inge again, I still have questions!
Directly after breakfast we go home, and almost immediately we go to lunch. We are supposed to see Nev and B for lunch, and we do but after me and August finished our lunch 😛 We talk for some time, and it’s great to hear what they’ve been up to since we last met, in December. our time at Navdanya seems so far away, but still so present in my mind, at least. Nev and B did a Vipassana in Nepal and says we HAVE to do it, so we probably will! August gets new sandals and our new, 400-rupees-per-day scooter also dies. We are having such a terrible bad luck with our bikes. August goes to take care of that and I hitchike home. It’s really easy to hitchhike. First, an Aurovillinan woman picks me up in her car and tell me “you have to limp, otherwise no one will pick you up” 😛 She asks me a million questions about the African Pavilion and I get the feeling she has a hidden motive… she drops me at the Solar kitchen and after like 1 minute another girl, also Aurovillian stops and picks me up. She is third generation Aurovillian! How cool is that? They have an aura around them, the Aurovillians, I cannot explain it, but it is there, for sure.
Monday evening is our last night, so we make a small campfire. We eat at the stoners café and me and Matan goes to get beers. Even Nev and B shows up for the campfire. We have to kill it at 10 though, because Clapton is leaving, so we continue the party around the table in the pavilion. At this point its just me, Johnny, August and Matan. Its great, it feels like that first night when we sat there and played that game with the questions, except Mayan isn’t there. But sitting there, Johnny falling asleep, and only me and Matan still going, it felt like we went full circle.
We leave in the morning. We say good bye to Matan, with a heavy heart. Miro is still there when we go, and we say goodbye to him too. Leaving the African Pavilion was even harder than leaving Navdanya, even with all the practice we have had with good byes. It’s just that life was perfect during these two weeks we spent together with our precious Israelis, learning their language, getting fond of their accent, developing inside jokes in our little group. It has been an amazing cultural exchange as much as people just meeting people in a foreign land. Both me and August learned sooo much from them and we learned that we have a lot in common. I really miss hearing that accent now when I write this. Now we are off the Hummus trail, so I don’t know when we will meet more Israelis, but when we do, we will shock them by greeting them with a lot of enthusiasm, haha 😛
So Johnny comes with us to Auroville Bakery for breakfast, and then we walk to the East Coast Road, and get on a bus. Me and August were supposed to meet Swapna in Chennai, the girl we met in Hampi (click here to read that post) but due to my phone not starting we had no way to contact her 😦 So we missed this opportunity. We dropped Johnny off at the central station, his plan was to get to Varanasi, and it’s also a sad and very rushed good bye. Me and August goes to the end of the line and takes an Uber to the Perambur station. Our train takes 30 hours, but its very comfortable.
So in the end we did lose track of why we came to Auroville; our intentions were to learn about farming and community life, but we ended up eating ice cream most of the time instead… Time you enjoy watsing isn’t wasted time!
The next post wont be this long, I promise 😛 It’ll be about trains and our one day in Kalkutta and how I HATE that good wifi is so rare I can look for it for an entire day without success. If I had better wifi I would update this blog a lot more frequently.
If you want to stay updated on our travels, ther is a place where you can sign up with your email if you scroll down to the end of this page. If you sign up with email, you will get an update when we upload a new post. No spam, just an update 🙂
Lots of Love
August and Linnea