aristera says

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


The Auroville Diaries

The 8 day holiday, that happened in a funny way (atleast I think its funny). The plan was initially to go to Cambodia. Have been dying to see Ankorwat for many years now. My sociology prof at college raved so much about it my first year of college, that I decided that I will go there someday. Plus Thailand was a major part of the plan. But me being me, and finishing work only a few ohurs before the day I could leave, could not make the necessary bookings, visa issues and the works. So here I was, work all wrapped up, clients informed of my absence for the next 8 days and nowhere to go.

Out came my lonely planet (yes, I refer to the lonely planet, no its not a firang thing to do… all my friends who thought so, have bitten their tongues once they figured how useful it is) and I short listed my options.

Option 1: Leh
Erratic flights from delhi. I might land up spending half my holiday in delhi. Nahi! Plus I don’t climb mountains. But the bare landscapes are so tempting. It doesn’t help that I am asthmatic.

Option 2: Sikkim
Needs more planning. The research would have to be better than a late night 3 hour figuring out. But tempting as hell.

Option 3: Kerala
Too touristy. Too easy. Too scenic. Perhaps with someone?

Option 4: Auroville
Ah! Why didn’t I think of it before. Have been dying to go there for 8 years. Makes sense. A friend had just gotten back from there. The data was easily available. Bingo!

So the next morning I find the cheapest fares and book my tickets to Chennai.

Auroville was all I expected it to be and more. It was an architects laboratory. Such experimental work. It was heaven. I cycled in the woods. Explored on a moped. Did organic farming (an immensely satisfying experience, this) and earned me a breakfast in barter. It was a meal I felt humbled earning. Its different from earning money for the work you do and buying food. The lemon rice tasted so nice! Pottery lessons! How I longed to sit on the wheel. Finally managed centering. It was so much fun. But the best bit was the architectural trail. I hunted these beautiful houses hidden amongst trees. So many of them. It was a dream ville. Met interesting people from all over the world at the guest house. Ate organic food. Nights were with friends at the town hall to watch films. Drank amazing hibiscus juice. Got some back home. So many cookies and jams. Teas…organic. A Mexican girl who played and sang us some folk music from mexico. And a generally fun bunch of others. We tapped and clapped to the music and had a great time.

Pondicherry was the nicest small town, ever. So clean, so calm. Where else do you see women on cycles with a basket full of flowers, bakes and books? The heritage walk was fascinating. The streets have an insence fragrance. Its so surreal. The French food was divine. At Satsanga. Coq au vin, pate’ and so much more. The courtyards. The French villas. The chance encountering of making a friend and travel buddy over lunch. The promenade. The books. The French streets. Rue de francois martin. So so French. The Francophile would have loved it. The tamil precint and the French precint. The people were friendly. Met some architects. Discussed how they were conserving the buildings there.

Mahabalipuram on the way back to Chennai. Beautiful temples. Rock cut. Everything I had read about them came Back in a flash. The shore temples and the cave temples. The rathas. The ganas. One of my favorite temples. Mahabalipuram is a true temple town.

Chennai was a bit strange. Didn’t connect with it at all. But had a nice time overall. Was there for only half a day. Met some friends and lazed around. Sari shopping for mommy at Nalli’s. books for me at this nice book store called Higgin Botham’s. bought too many books.

Came to Bombay, late at night. Major flight delays (I have come to accept this as a part of my destiny….dont remember the last time I took a flight which was on time, I swear). I didn’t come ‘back’. I just came here. There wasn’t anything to come back to. But I still think of the swim in the sea on auroville beach. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea, indeed.

Read loads on the trip. Finished two books. Bought 6 more. Reading them now. All in all the trip helped in clearing my head about some matters. Some it didn’t. some new goals. Some failed ‘times’. Some self-discoveries. But, I learnt something very important about myself.

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My bible these days tends to be the Outlook Treking Guide. The only problem is that for most of the places that I am looking at July - Aug is an absolute no-no.

You have no clue how happy I am that you have started blogging again! It feels so good to read your posts. Aristera-esque and all that [a la 36 Chowringee Lane mode]..

Where else do you see women on cycles with a basket full of flowers, bakes and books?

Sigh. I think I must go to Pondicherry and settle down. Then I can be one amongst those women on cycles singing "Mein chali mein chali dekho pyar ki gali" [Though i hate that Saira Banu]...

Self Discovery is always nice. Some deductions. Some addtions. Aur yeh zindagi...
A solo trip is something I must do - esp since I've never done it before. Sounds incredibly liberating. :-)

Am glad you had a good time and yes, welcome back!
First, a big hug for coming back to the blog! Yayyy!!

Secondly, that was one tempting description... I have heard about Auroville so many times from my sister (who also happens to be an architect)... I really must visit it some time soon.
omg! nalli's and higginbothams!!! my college was soooooo close to higginbothams.. we used to go there alll the time!!!
and mahabs is FUN! ;-) *sighs in remembrance*
f-cubed - alas, i cant trek...

sex - i dont know if self-discovery is always nice. but this time it sure was.

extempore - it is indeed very liberating... try it.

casa - yayy! you must go there!!

livinghigh - love bookstores like this and 'Manney's' in poona. its somehow nicer than slick fancy crosswords of the world...
and why 'mahabs', its so teenager. hehe. i love the name 'Mahabalipuram'.
Yes yes travelling alone ie quite libreating, but then can get lonely too na? Pondi sounds divine...must go there soon!

PS MErci pour les cartes postales et la confiture cheri!
geeta - it is liberating, and it can get lonely too. pondi is divine. you are welcome for les cartes postales and la confiture cheri (is tht the jam or the band?...hehe)
realised on this trip to tokyo - that would have loved to have someone along
guppie - i know what you mean...
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