“There should be somewhere upon earth a place that no nation could claim as its sole property, a place where all human beings of goodwill, sincere in their aspiration, could live freely as citizens of the world, obeying one single authority, that of the supreme Truth; a place of peace, concord, harmony (…) Artistic beauty in all forms, painting, sculpture, music, literature, will be available equally to all, the opportunity to share in the joys they bring being limited solely by each one’s capacities and not by social or financial position.For in this ideal place money would be no more the sovereign lord…”
That was a dream of the French woman Mirra Alfassa, known as “The Mother”. She founded this experimental towniship in 1968. Together with Antonio we made our way to Auroville to check out how these nice principles work out in the real life. We had a need of staying in one place for a little bit, blend into the local life, get some routine and overall spend some time in the nature, away from the noisy, big cities. Getting involved in a meaningful project also sounded good to us. Auroville consist of lots of small communities which do organic farming, permaculture, reforestation, water conservation, handicrafts, social work such us: raising awareness among villagers , woman, children education and lots of alternative therapists together with yoga and meditation kind of things. It does sounds good, doesn’t it?
The first few nights we were mingling around trying to understand how the whole place is working. We stayed in a small farm in a bamboo hut and then with a couple of “bewelcomers”. Sadly we discovered that almost all volunteering places require your financial contribution. You do work and additionally pay for accomodation and meals. Julien ironically summed up later on: “it is worse than slavery as there they at least host you!”. Well this whole volunteering in the third world countries is now a big big business. One needs to put some effort not to be ripped off.
We discovered that Auroville it is a touristy, costly place where money plays a key role. It still needs lots of time to fulfill the Mother’s dream. Regardless of that we found our small temporarily nest and an organization with whom we cooperated for almost 3 weeks. We received (!!!) accommodation in a very chill guest-house with a beautiful garden. SHARAN (http://sharan-india.org/) is a vegan “sanctuary” that spread holistic health awareness. Their goal is to have a diabetes free India (40% of Indians are diagnose with that disease; our very last driver, a gynecologist, said that 70% of the pregnancies she is taking care of are diabetic pregnancies). So, the organization’s founder, Nandita who is a homeopath, leads camps and workshops on how to reverse the diseases through diet. We found it extremely interesting and important. Anto could put his hands on “Final Cut” as he was asked to make one promotional video and I was his very best actress (haha). I realized that physiotherapists are the ones among the medical staff who spend the most time with their patient (from 10 days up to few years) so that creates a nice opportunity to spread the general knowledge of healthy lifestyle. This is the video we created. It promotes one day long workshop called PEAS vs PILLS. Check it out!
If not sitting in front of the computer screen editing, we were usually hitchhiking around the city-forest of Auroville and between its projects, to the ocean (trying to avoid all the crap around, yes the beach is the biggest public toilet in India..) and to Pondicherry.
Pondy is a lovely small city and one of the least Indian we have found so far. On one side the grand bazaar is huge and messy, loud and full of colors, people and smells, on the other the city still lives its French influence and there are some cute, empty and quiet neighborhoods. We walked through them while eating baguette and pain au chocolat, almost forgetting that we were still in India.
Apart from that we spent Christmas with 12 other international travelers eating tofu with pesto, italian pasta, indian idly (steamed, rice based “cake”), bruschetta and polish pierogi! We were really happy to meet Julien, Elsy and their Petit Bibi for New Years Eve. We went to the Tibetan Temple with thousand of candles and mantras in the air . At midnight we welcomed 2014 on the roof of our house sitting around the candle in the t shirts with the palm trees covering noisy fireworks shot from the nearby beach on Bengal Gulf!
Few days later we started our Tamil Nadu temple run…