2018-11 Pondicherry & Auroville

I am now between Pondicherry and Auroville, I chose a beautiful little beach house with the bedroom on the first floor overlooking the beach and the sea. The bay window opens on all the front, I spend long moments of day and night all windows open watching life go by. As it is a fishing beach, the night is quite noisy because the boats leave from 3am and they are helped by the tractor, the noise of the engines can disturb but in India silence is a rare thing, in a few days I’ll be in Varkala, I’ll have dogs, crows, temples and mosques feeding me with a wide variety of background. I arrived in the late afternoon on Thursday and after settling in I went by bus to the city of Pondicherry 5 km south of where I am. It is a real gem, streets impeccable, buildings aligned and harmonious, a front color gray / blue for all buildings, it is India in a very French style, dressed to the nines. The beach promenade is nice, it eats the beach … French style. The most beautiful buildings are in the streets behind the promenade. Hotels, restaurants, shops, administrative buildings and of course the various buildings of the Sri Aurobibo ashram and mother, the founders of Auroville. There are also some beautiful temples. In a few hours the tour is done, I dine and I go back to bed. The next day I start my discovery of Auroville, the community that settled and built here from 1971 around the Matrimandir, the heart of this city, a building that symbolizes the universal consciousness. A ball shapped building, golden on the outside and white on the inside, placed on a 12-petalled lotus. A space of concentration in the center, twelve rooms of meditation around. The access is limited and controlled, one has easy access to the observation zone, then to go inside to experience the concentration one has to get the pass and an appointment. I got mine for Sunday. The other important thing here is to find a way to get around because it’s big and there is no bus and very few rickshaws. I took the option of the electric bike, it suits me and I can try the local model. I need a motorized transport mode for Varkala and I will probably purchase from the dealer here. Auroville is located in a forest area which has been partly reforested, there are many bike paths, it is very nice. I go from place to place, some are guesthouses, places of life, farms, workshops, cultural centers, the town hall, the information center. I know a couple here, they are owners in my building in Paris, I find them for lunch, they explain to me a little how it happens here, it is not so simple or idyllic but it is a place and a mode of life that is quite coherent for some. The trouble is probably the colonial apsect, there are few smiles on the part of locals and Aurovillians either, they are apart in some way. I also take the opportunity to rest in front of the wind, facing the sea, I prepare for Varkala. I will have many things to take care of the first days. The preparation of the house, the large unpacking, then, the installation of the kitchen, my room, the roof, the garden, the hangings. Here I do not bathe, the sea is too agitated, the beach here is not that kind of beach and from Monday night or Tuesday morning I will be on the opposite coast on the beach that I prefer the most in the world. It will also have to work to do there on the beach, clean the trash, make shade and probably re-arrange the springs into showers, I look forward to all this, to find myself in this place I love so much. Tomorrow I’m going to go to inside the Matrimandir, I think I’m going to be taken back, I’ve heard it’s really magical.

My last day in Auroville was a day full of discoveries. The first discovery was a delicious bakery, the second was the Matrimandir and the third was the people. I had to be at the visitor center at 8:45, I woke up early, I took the electric bike on new paths inspired by a reconnaissance of the location where my Parisian neighbors live in Auroville. I got lost and that’s how I came across the bakery. I had a hot chocolate bun and a kind of raisin bread, both delicious. I arrived at the meeting point and after a few minutes of waiting, the screening room opened and the group of about fifty people was able to watch the introductory video. After that we took buses to the entrance of the Matrimandir park. Phones and bags had to be deposited. Our guide who first led us to a point of view under a tree to explain to us the history of Auroville, the park, the Matrimandir and tell us the rules for the visit. First the silence, then not to touch anything because everything is in white marble, the floor, the walls, the balustrades, everything.In the crystal room, the room of concentration is in carpet of white wool. Socks will be provided at the entrance.The website www.auroville.org is a mine of information.- https://www.auroville.org/contents/3120 – the page or video describes the construction of the Matrimandir and allows to see the completed interior.
We then leave in the direction of the object, of the globe. We circle around to see the gardens, the petals that come out of the ground and are the meditation rooms. We take off our shoes and cross into one of the petals and we see access to one of the meditation rooms. Everything is white, everything is calm, everything is peaceful, everything is quiet, everything is beautiful. We descend under the Matrimandir, there is a basin in the shape of a lotus, water flows on the white marble petals, in the center a small crystal receives light from the main chamber. We climb the stairs and enter the building, we put on our socks before taking a spiral staircase that takes us to the center of Matrimandir, under the inner chamber. We must then follow the spiraling ramp that leads us to the chamber. We enter this room, it receives air made from air conditioning that gives the impression that fresh air falls on us gently as a veil of freshness. The room is white even whiter than the rest of the building, the floor is soft thanks to the thick woolen carpet, we sit on cushions, we have twenty minutes to concentrate, receive the light of the crystal, that of the sun outside, which is directed by a mirror that follows its movement and sends it back into a beam into the crystal, the only source of light in the room, its amazing. This visit alone justifies my coming here, I want to come back, I want to meditate in one or more rooms. Once the first visit is made, it is possible to return and access directly on simple appointment. It is noon, I go meet my parisian aurovillian friends. They have been living in Auroville for the past 10 years. They started house-sitting and three years ago they built a house where they live with their two grown-up children. The status of Aurovillians is that of volunteer, the land and dwellings are the property of the community. It is possible that the community can meet the needs of volunteers, but ‘outside’ income is necessary and often the prerequisite to become Aurovillian. Auroville is divided into zones and within them, communities of activity and habitation exist. They are often themed and people live there more or less in community, it is difficult to paint a picture. We go into the forest to have lunch in a hippie living space and I meet a lot of Aurovillians, as well as people who are volunteering but are not aurovilians, but might apply for integration if the experience is positive. . It’s very interesting. I like it a lot, but I miss something in this place, the beach is close but it is not beautiful, the forest is beautiful but the amount of insects must be quite difficult to manage, I should probably come back and spend a week or two living and volunteering in a community and see what happens. I leave happy with this discovery of Auroville and the electric bike that I will order once arrived at varkala. Tomorrow, I fly to the west coast and Varkala, I cannot wait.

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