This page has been reproduced from my diary (not regularly kept) while I visited this unique township called ‘Auroville’ (find more about it here). I have intentionally left it unedited. It is a collection of some random thoughts during the trip.
23rd December 2007 – 6 p.m.
While I was waiting to be here, in the last one year, I also started thinking of this place as a perfect future home. A place where I could settle, live with my wife and raise my children when the futility of the mad race that the city life is, finally gets to me. However, my first reaction is that this should remain a place I visit regularly for long periods for the sole purpose of writing, and reading. I think today I have realised how inequipped I am to live away from a city life. I must say I totally agree with Alan Shore’s words of wisdom, “I like solitude with people around me.”
This is probably the closest to an adventure I have ever undertaken. Today afternoon, after ages, I rode a bicycle. And thaks to my complete oblivion to the sense of direction, I cycled for almost 15 Kilometres, instead of 5 that was needed. While I was cycling and not able to locate the guest house I was staying at, I did not feel any fear. But I did feel a strange kind of helplessness I have never felt in the city life, as I have taken all steps necessary to avoid that situation.
Today I was more at ease, probably more than I would have liked to as my day began quite late. Slept late last night after reading and watching Namesake. Last night I finally managed to have dinner. Called for a taxi, paid him 100 bucks to take me out for dinner and bring me back. Finally, managed to get out an existential dilemma by paying in currency. I have come to believe that it is a smart way out. Provided, you can manage to earn a little more in 9 months than you would spend in a year. That’s another theory in my head, won’t like to discuss now.
Have decided to roam around the place only when arrives. Reading seems to be a much better option while I am alone for another couple of days. Seeing a place is more fun when you have company, keeping in mind two is company, three is crowd.
Have planned to limit myself to the town hall, visitor’s centre, bharat niwas, and solar kitchen for the time being, while am alone. These places are closer to each other and easily accessible from my guest house.
I saw a good glimpse of the Matrimandir here from the town hall. I would say it’s the next thing after Taj Mahal in the country. I was amazed. I do not understand architecture, but this is definitely unique. Though I have not read much, I always saw a lot of literature on this one structure all over Auroville and used to wonder whats the big deal about it. I have no words to describe. It’s a fully round sphere with golden circular petals around it arranged symmetrically. I know am going to buy some literature s well as film on it now.
I have spent heavy amounts on this trip but have no regrets as of today. Only one, I think I am going to go short of cash. I need to find an ATM.
After ages, I finished a book in a day. It is a very short novel by Kundera, Identity. Definitely not better than his masterpiece, The Unbearable Lightness of Being but marvellous and brilliant nevertheless. Nobody has ever understood a man-woman relationship better than Kundera. He strips the relationship naked, but aesthetically.
I also spent over a couple of hours starting a story I intend to write. I know there is a good chance that this will also end up unfinished like many other. However, I am satisfied. A day full of reading and attempted writing – I am having a field day here.
30th December 2007 – 6.30 p.m.
Finally, got the opportunity to see the Matrimandir from the inside. I was astounded to say the least. It was, by far, the most aesthetic conceptualization and architecture I have ever seen. I don’t trust my abilities of expression to be able to describe it in any way. What I can only say is that this visit would have been worth it just for one glimpse of the interiors of the Matrimandir.
Yesterday I borrowed a few books from the Auroville Library. The library has a brilliant collection and extraordinary categorization, one of the most extensive categorization I have ever seen. English fiction itself is categorized into a number of categories including translations (in turn separated by different languages from which the book has been translated), American English, Indian English etc. Biographies are categorized as heads of state, scientists, art, etc. I picked up three boos to glance through in the short time that I had – Existentialism and Humanism by Jean Paul Sartre, Dear Theo: An autobiography in letters of Vincent Van Gough, and The Portable Nietzsche.
Existentialism and Humanism being a very small book, I finished in a couple of hours. It is basically a record of some lecture by Sartre where he tried to defend his idea against attacks from philosophers and pundits. For some time now, I have been looking for an authoritative article / research paper which attempts at clarifying the misconceptions about existentialism that seem quite obvious on a prima facie understanding. For that purpose at least, this is a gem, the propounder explaining his own theory against several attacks.
My friend had a very interesting chit chat with the care taker of this guest house. My doubts were confirmed when my friend narrated the crux of the conversation. Auroville was a concept put forth by the Mother (a spiritual disciple of Shri Aurobindo). In brief, it aims to construct a township open to men of any ethnic group or nationality. The basic aim to build a place where man can realize his pull potential from within. It has very solid conceptual base that the mother gave it. It also has a history worth reading about, which I find impossible to narrate here.
In the first couple of days within Auroville, I could sense that the concept and the reality where not going parallel to each other. Bureaucratic attitude amongst people who run the place, though nowhere close to the disgusting realities of normal government culture, is still plainy visible. After the Mother’s demise, it looks like this place is desperately waiting for a couple of true leaders who are committed to the concept that Auroville is as well as command tremendous citizen trust. It seems like hoping for a miracle, but in absence of that this place might become a tourist village and nothing more. Let’ hope that this experiment succeeds.