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One of the Aurovillian

A is for Auroville because that's where I am right now. I am interning with an architectural firm in Auroville and my term is about to end. Like they say,I guess at the end you start thinking about the beginning.
When I first came to this place, It seemed like I was in the middle of nowhere. I didn't have a place to stay,the nearest convenience store skirted the border of Auroville and there were no streetlights. As a student from the city,it was quite a drastic change in environment.Luckily, I had two fellow interns who were constant companions during this nightmare. Our mopeds would break down invariably during thunderstorms and we'd be stranded, soaking wet in the pitch black darkness.Sometimes,I can still hear our screams. Ok, maybe that is a tad over dramatic but the nights in Auroville can get really dark.The lack of proper roads didn't help. And of course, the work scene had to have a few brown nosers-the sort that tend to get you into trouble with the boss.Basically, we found ourselves looking at a bleak and dreary internship.

But of course, the story gradually took a turn towards the bright side. I learned how to ride a moped and I would come to realize that this allowed me to exploit my new-found freedom and independence. I discovered hidden workshops where one could learn a number of things, from ceramic pottery to tango lessons.Having lived in many countries, I had never been a stranger to adapting but Auroville was different. There was a certain lifestyle that revolved around nature and spirituality of a certain kind.Though there are many things in Auroville that I do not stand by, I was beginning to accept Auroville and it me.

There were the croissants from the Auroville Bakery that melted in your mouth.There was the lady at Solar kitchen who spent two hours every day asking people for a ride.Everyone knew the sculptor at Sri Ganesh Stone carving who would smile at the people passing his house,on their way to Pondicherry. There were the crazy parties at Meera beach that were held every Saturday night,no matter the weather or the time.There was also gossip that passed around every day because everybody knows everything about anyone in Auroville.There were a lot of students because Auroville provided the opportunity to explore and experiment. There were people who took a break from their run of the mill “life plans” to get a new perspective on life, leaving 5 figure salaries to work on a farm.

I found that the Aurovillians had a certain rhythm to their life which revolved around the Bakery, movie nights at Town Hall and Solar Kitchen.You would invariably run into familiar faces at any of these haunts.There were also clusters of Aurovillians living together in quiet neighbourhoods,tucked away in secret areas in the forests.At first I thought it seemed rather elitist because there was a clear distinction about the kind of people that were allowed to live there-Choosing your neighbours seemed to be no different than grocery shopping.You'd see the signs leading to these exclusive dwellings-"Solitude","Transformation","Serenity","Certitude" etc.I wondered if there could ever be colonies with unfavourable names, like "Noise" or "Chaos".At least you'd know where the parties would be.
I did however,make an exception for "Creativity". It seemed to be a place inhabited by artists,encouraging the slightest aptitude for any art.There were eclectic studios with smudges of charcoal and pastel over the desks,scrap piles lying about in sculptors' workshops,and pristine galleries displaying the artwork.I knew that
this place inspired me to extend my period of stay in Auroville.

There were many other places to volunteer.Too many.
I could make organic jewellery at Shradhanjali or I could make furniture at Bamboo Centre.I could help design musical instruments at Swaram or make handmade paper at Auropaper.
Or I could take a year off to teach school children at Isai Ambalam.

All things considered,Auroville is quite a popular student hub but I can't see myself living here for an extended period of time.I do miss getting caught up in the rush and humdrum that the city offers.A city life would never fail to surprise me.As this chapter ends, I look forward to my next internship in a new city with its own unique hum.
Though I must say, I will miss the croissants.

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