Sunday. The last and final day of our Chennai adventures. After breakfast, we drove from Pondicherry in to Auroville, an international township full of greenery. Auroville was chartered in 1968 but wasn’t built until 1980. The central aim of developing Auroville was to realize human unity through diversity. Thus, its population of 2,500 represents 49 different nations.
The town is really big on energy conservation and living around nature. There is no sign of hydropower use in this area; the town relies on solar and wind power. The roads are purely mud. Everywhere the eye looks, it catches the luscious greens of trees, trees, and trees. In the center of the town lies the first tree ever planted in Auroville. It is a Banyon tree, whose branches—when they gravitate towards the ground—become their own tree.
The soul of the town is found within a giant ball structure called the Matrimandir. Really, truly, it looks like a Ferrero Rocher chocolate, but I would be offending many if I voiced that. This gold sphere is placed in a large open area called Peace and symbolizes the birth of new consciousness. Apparently, inside the Matrimandir, one will find only the color of white (but white is not a color??) The interior is pure white marble and the floor has white carpeting. In the center sits a pure crystal ball that emanates sunlight from it. Only those that truly want to discover what is within themselves are allowed inside the Matrimandir. The ball is for those that want to concentrate, not meditate. I don’t know the difference, tbh.
Auroville is also a strongly spiritual community. Devotees come to this area seeking for knowledge beyond what they’ve learned in formal education, experience, or oral tradition. They give up their lifestyle to adopt an overly simplistic way of living and begin searching within themselves to understand their minds and their lives. The concept itself is difficult to describe. They don’t come here to meditate; they come here for personal growth beyond our understanding.
After Auroville, we went to have lunch at a small village town in Tamil Nadu. The lunch was organized by a self-help women’s group. These people live right on the beach so we got to enjoy lunch under the shade of (coconut?) trees. The breeze from the sea tickled our skin as we ate fresh fish curry and eggplant on banana leaves. They were a warm and hospitable group of people, and it was unfortunate that we couldn’t spend as much time with them as we all wanted to.
After spending a little time on the beach, we began our trip back home to Hyderabad. Passing through airport and security this time was significantly smoother than the first. We arrived back in Tagore way past dinnertime but the staff had very kindly stayed late to serve us, bless their hearts.
This trip marked the end of week two in India (though I am writing this near the end of week three). How quickly time goes by! How grateful I am to be in India I cannot even say. This past weekend did not go strictly according to plan but was full of new adventure, new faces, new friendships, and a newfound love for this country. I feel that by actively talking with the locals and imploring about their lives wherever I go, I am gaining a better sense of the different faces of India. And with that, I will conclude this tale.