It was a hurried mess, last year. The tango classes were so closely scheduled to each other, that we ended up having little or no time discovering Auroville. That was one of the biggest reasons as to why I opted out of learning Tango this year, at the festival in Auroville. I decided to spend that time, getting to know more about the community, and Auroville in general. At this point, I was considering becoming an Aurovillian. Thus, if I could get a hold of one of the Aurovillians for a podcast interview, then that would’ve been something. But, things didn’t pan out in the podcast direction. Chalk it up to a lot of skepticism on part of the community there. Maybe they didn’t want an interview, or maybe they were not ready for one. One of the reasons why I decided against becoming an Aurovillian. But, if the interview had taken place, I think it would’ve been great, especially because I receive mails by complete strangers asking me about life in Auroville, and as an Aurovillian (which I am not, in any way whatsoever). Like this one quoted below (which is the reason for this post, if I may):
”Can I ask you questions about Auroville I was reading your blog and am very interested. I am an American man and have a family and even pets and am considering moving everything to start a new life in Auroville. It sounds ideallic. Can you tell me the cons and downsides I might want to avoid if you don’t mind sir? Thank you for your time!” - Dustin
About Auroville, From The POV Of A Prospective Aurovillian
It’s a happy place, for most. It feels adventurous. It is open, calm, and relatively safe. It’s doused in nature. The sunrises are beautiful, so are the sunsets. The nights are full of stars. It’s a paradise, as far as a nature lover like me is concerned. There are tons of things to do, and here’s the best part — you can actually choose where, and with whom you want to work/volunteer. There’s tons to discover. Auroville has everything you, and your family may need - including schools.
The downside, as I noticed it is that people are closed off to you. Especially if you’re an Indian. That’s how I felt. I had many chance encounters here, with the local Aurovillians, and most of those seemed lacking. They’re a very close knitted community. Or they’re just shy. I can’t decide, still. Truth be told, there is a sense of togetherness within the community; which you can be a part of, only after becoming an Aurovillian successfully. One thing is for sure, they do not open up to you if you’re an outsider, and haven’t interacted with them much. And, I think white skin matters here — if not by much, than definitely by some amount. The only people who were open, and I could communicate with were two Tibetan siblings who run the Tibetan guesthouse called Bod Khang, where we were lodging. They are a gem of a people! And, as I am shy (and may come across as arrogant because of that) I wasn’t able to reach out more than I did. That led me to be mostly alone on my side escapades here, while my friends were attending their tango lessons. I took walks, slept, and roamed about with no particular goals, but that of just enjoying the place. Which I did thoroughly, if I might add. The other things to note are the struggles engulfing this township with respect to crime, corruption, hypocrisy, and bureaucracy.
PS: Bod Khang is a great place to shack up. It’s no frills, there’s not much it offers, but is centrally located (very close to the Visitors center). There’s no AC, but you don’t feel the need for it because of the ventilation in the rooms. It’s a barebones guesthouse experience, and it’s very very affordable.
Should I Become An Aurovillian?
If you’re planning to become an Aurovillian, may I suggest that you spend upto 3 months as a guest first? To become one, you’ve to spend at the least two years supporting yourself, with whatever work you can. The website sure does say one year, but talking to another Aurovillian who owns a taxi here (ping me if you’d like to book him — any work you can give him, goes a long way) it’s my understanding that it really takes two years for you to become a part of the community. And, while doing that you’ve to be good person too, with good behaviour, etc. You may want to volunteer, and check with Auroville if they have any spots that interest you. You won’t get paid, and you’ll have to give back to the community from day one to help keep it in shape, and build it up. That’s the reason I advice, any one who inquires about becoming an Aurovillian to actually stay there as a guest for 3 months to get to know the place, the people, and to know if you really want to become an Aurovillian or not.
I haven’t stayed there for 3 months. But, have had the opportunity to stay there for 15 days in two years, and will be going back there again next year. Those 15 days, they were enough for me to decide that I am not a good fit as an Aurovillian.
Read More About Auroville
Here’s an exhaustive, great article about the struggles that Auroville faces this day, and age. The article has ton’s of other resources it links to, and is a great read.