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Monday, December 26, 2005
Auroville is a little town on the bay of bengal. I first reached there in july 1997. I was wandering around the south of india during the summer break from college and was putting up in REC Trichy ( thank you again arnab ). The rain in delhi had been driving me crazy and i just got up and left with a vague memory from school geography lessons, that tamil nadu gets the monsoon in winter. Thats the place to go, i thought and after a joyous celebration in trichy, i was wondering where to go next. Then i remembered Shankar, who while teaching us architecture, also dropped little nuggets of information. Shankar had said, that for an architecture student, there are some places that one must visit, auroville, chandigarh, ahmedabad and mumbai. I inquired around, and a few trichy'ites got sober enough for a brief while to tell me how to get there. So with a copy of Amitav Ghosh's Shadowlines, a small canvas bag with a towel n swimming trunks, a pair of sunglasses and few currency notes I took the bus and landed up there. And what I saw opened my eyes. After a long long time, I felt the rush of excitement and stimulation of my mind. It had been so long since i was in a place that broke existing conventions, that I had almost given up my own non-conformist attitude and no longer believed there could be an alternative model to the consumerist colonial capitalist paradigm. Any story of my life has to start with Auroville...coz auroville gave me back hope. It removed the dark edges that were starting to encroach on my personality. I rejoiced as a child in the sunshine and in the friendship of the people there. I basked in the glorious cloudy days and splased around merrily in the warm sea. I rode a bicycle through mud tracks and sang songs around a fire with strangers. I asked a pretty girl out to coffee and fell in love with her on a starry night on the beach. The defensiveness and edginess that a metropolis breeds in you, disappeared to be replaced by the sheer joy of being alive.
To people who ask me, what auroville is...i offer the same reply as do the old aurovillians.... its whatever you want it to be...its a small town that is trying to live peacefully and happily...and you can only understand it if you come down there...and stay there for a few days...do not bring too much money...do not come expecting to drink beer on the beach...do not come to ogle naked white flesh ...do not come to see the sights...come if you want time with yourself...and come if you want just to be alive in a nice place....come if you are tired of anonymity....
It sounds idealistic...and my memories probably make it more so. But since then I have gone back countless of times....snatching a few days here and there ...just to immerse myself in the warm celebration of the human spirit that is auroville. I never saw the girl i loved again...the magic sometimes seemed faded....sometimes somethings felt racist, sometimes it felt commercialized into a yogic version of goa...but I kept going back. And yes...it wasnt auroville that had changed...it was me... it just reflected what was inside me.... Auroville gave me some of the best friends I made. People who trusted me and opened up like we had known each other our whole lives.
I hope someday to go back there and live among the whispering palms once again. I hope there still would be chocolate pancakes there....there still would be pretty girls fired up with a passion in life....there would be rootless children who weep with joy at the love they found in auroville...there would be the old man doing pranayam at sunrise on the beach...there would be the happy tamil guy with his two blonde girlfriends feeding him coconuts...there would be stoned dogs hanging around the bedroom window of a italian honeymooning couple who smoked pot like it was food...and always there would be a hot meal in the solar kitchen....an old guitar lying in a corner of the guest house... and thunderstorms lashing a thatched hut under which we would sleep.