Part 1: Puducherry, Auroville and volunteering
We are arriving late in the night in Puducherry, after or long train ride from Kolkata to Chennai and a three hours local bus tour. It is a nice little town deep in the south at India’s east cost. We are sleeping at our first couchsurfing host Vikram in the north part of the town. The tuk tuk driver cannot find the address and so we are searching on our own. Finally, around 1 AM we are at our new home.
The next two days we are walking around the city. The French colonial buildings in White Town, signs of it’s history as capital of former French India, let me feel like in a small town in France.
Part of our decision to come to this region is Auroville. An utopia city founded by Mira Alfassa, now known as “the Mother”. In her Auroville carta she wrote that the city belongs to no one, is welcoming everyone of the globe and is a place of never ending learning. That sounded really interesting. As we arrived in the visitor center we see something different. We are a little confused and disappointed but we don’t give up the idea to stay there some days.
Fortunately, Kenny of the Sapney Farm in Auroville contacts us and it looks like they are not belonging directly to the commune. We visit his farm next morning and we like the place and the opportunity to volunteer there. So we decide to move in.
As we are volunteering there the next days are full with tasks like helping in the kitchen, repairing a palm toilet and preparing a Christmas party for the kids of the surrounding village. The kids are surprised by the western food we cook for them together with all the other so nice volunteers. It’s great fun!
The day after we have our own Christmas party. It is also VJ birthday, a young guy who works at the farm. Early in the morning a truck picks us up and drop us at the beach. We want to see the sunrise. Clouds cover the sky but it’s still beautiful. After a swim and some relaxing we are going back to the truck and drive to the forest. Elu the cook and medicine man of the farm shows us different medicine plants and a Hindu temple. The last station of our trip is an area with huge backwaters and many many birds everywhere. We rescue some craps from fisher nets and enjoy all the birds around. At least we buy some beer and have a great pool party at the farm.
Some days later Rakesh arrives at the farm. He is a permaculture teacher who will run a course here. Helen and I have a chance to talk to him and are impressed. His point of view interests us especially concerning community building. He plans a workshop twenty days later and we decide to come back and join.
After a nice new year party with dance music at a bonfire we are leaving the farm full of good vibrations and the mood to come back very soon.
Part 2: Community building workshop
We arrive back at the farm after our trip to the south west of India (Madurai, Tenkasi and Kerala). A lot has changed. New people, new way of organization and a lot of now things that have been created.
Only Michelle and Kati are left from the former group of volunteers, but the new guys are very welcoming and we don’t need so much time to integrate again. Most of the people are members of the permaculture design workshop and leaving next day. Some others are staying and joining our Community Building workshop. As place to sleep we get another nice but a little more basic cottage.
It’s time to start with the workshop and it is great. The first two days are about Sociocracy. Especially I am really convinced by this methodology, but Helen is interested too. It is a new way how groups of people can make decisions together without leaving anyone behind. It is much more fair than the majority vote in the common democratic way. Our teacher Rakesh is an impressive person. His opinions about how people should life with each other and the nature are inspiring.
After these two days of Sociocracy we switch over to the Community Building part. We directly use what we learned and creating together a syllabus for the next 7 days. The workshop is just great. The tools we use are bringing all of us more and more together. We are becoming a really close community. It’s just great.
Some of our new friends are going to Hampi like we have planed, so we will meet again. This makes it easier to say good bye. Finally we leave this sometimes magical place in the heart of Auroville and it is not easy.