The next day, inspite of our muscles aching from the long walk, we awoke rather early. After a breakfast we again went venturing on to the famous auroville ashram. It was a serene calm, peaceful building dressed in white. My memory fails the details, but intense calm and a feeling of peace came over all of us as we sat in the soundless environment. How long we sat, I can’t recall either. But when we emerged, we were carrying an halo of calm with us. With this halo of calm, we then explored a nearby shop to collect souvenirs of our magical moments. Incense sticks of exotic fragrances such as vanilla and tropical scents. These were reminders of my journey with me to stay for the following years to come. Auroville had me charmed!
The story is set in 1996. We were a bunch of young design students on a educational visit to Chennai. After being greeted at the station by our guide who explained that Chennai had three seasons- hot, hotter and hottest ; we were escorted for the rest of the trip under the protection of our guide teachers. After a maddening week learning about leather and leather processes, visiting slaughterhouses and tanneries, some of us decided to take the weekend off and make a visit to the nearby Pondicherry,which was said to be an Erstwhile French colony. A local student agreed to be our guide and we started for Pondicherry by bus, a journey which we were told was around 3 hours. After walking along the boulevard, watching the beach and collecting shells, we decided that we needed more adventure than this. It was then we decided to walk down till Auroville, a nearby settlement. We wondered during the walk, whether it was going to be worth it and what wonders lay ahead. After taking a shortcut through some fields, we reached a curious set of hutments. The complex we had decided to visit was closed, and with dusk approaching, we decided to halt and explore the next day. Tired and hungry, Auroville seemed to envelop us in its fold with its magical fresh air and blanket of calm. Tamarind juice and apple pie for dinner became a feast for the night. After another short walk, we discovered a hutments which agreed to take us in for the night. And it was a night… The hutments was divided into two levels connected by the bamboo stairs. The top bunks gave a magical view, which we realised the next day, as it was open to the sky.