I first visited Auroville at the age of 8. My dad Martin had a long term involvement with Auroville and in 1989 we visited on a family holiday. I still have some vivid memories of the trip, it was an exotic adventure and a stark contrast to my childhood in England. Auroville continued to be a presence with me whilst growing up through my dad who was secretary for AVIUK and devoted a lot of his time to all things AV. Advice whilst growing up would often be given with a reference to words from Sri Aurobindo or The Mother and became a strong influence to my outlook on life.
When I was eighteen I visited Auroville again, as part of a six month gap year trip. My brother, Matt, had made a similar trip two years previously and had quickly made the decision to permanently move to Auroville and was already living there. I stayed at Youth Camp in Fraternity and made friends with a group of architect students from Pune who had come to Auroville to carry out internships. I joined them in working on an archaeological excavation near Bharat Nivas organised by Popo, the architect who they were studying under. We had a fantastic time both with the work, which was fascinating and in discovering Auroville together.
I discovered a place rather different to the utopian image that I had constructed in my mind growing up, a place with far more contrast than I was expecting. Things here weren’t perfect, in fact it was very easy to be cynical, which many of the more casual visitors to Auroville I met in Youth Camp were. However the imperfections for me were clearly just a symptom of the work being carried out. It was clear that the majority of people I met were far more conscious of themselves and their nature and most importantly, passionate about applying themselves to working with what they found. Such a rare quality to be found in the west but here it was in abundance.
I returned several times over the following years both to India and Auroville being in a relationship with someone I met on my first trip. I developed a strong tie with both places, arriving in India and Auroville to such a bright energy feels not only exhilarating but also a relief, like returning home. One day I hope to remain for a much longer time. It seems a waste to have made such a discovery and not more fully explore its nature and contribute to the work being done there.