A friend and I decided to venture to Pondicherry recently, or Puducherry as they now call it – and before getting into the city, we were advised to start with a trip to Auroville. Not there was much to see, but still my trip to Auroville was one of mixed reactions. As much as I enjoyed many a sight and the beautifully maintained gardens – somehow at the end of the day, there were other memories that stood out in my mind as against the time spent at Auroville. Nevertheless – I am here to share the pros and cons of this experience.
The day was quite a warm one with the sun shining brightly – unusual for January, but sunblock would have definitely been a good idea.
We started off really early and reached Auroville at about 9.30 Am, right on time for breakfast. The cafetaria at the center despite limited options on the Menu, seemed to draw a steady crowd. Everyone seemed relaxed and comfortable – maybe it was the aura around everyone that made me want to believe the same.
Well, when my food came – I did look around in amazement as I wondered what all these people were
1. ordering 2. consuming and 3. Why were they not complaining? . The food was bad, so was the service and please do not even get me started on the pricing.
We had some rock – solid bread, stale croissants, something that looked like an omelet but definitely dint taste like it and yes some lukewarm water that apparently qualified as tea. Sorry to say, breakfast itself put me into a sour mood and then I made the second mistake of the day – Shopping!
Do not get me wrong – the boutiques at Auroville have a wide variety of wares that might well be a shopper’s paradise. Handicrafts, Books, hand-made paper, bags, clothes, stuffed toys, children’s clothes, musical instruments, incense sticks, lamp shades, and aromatic candles – you might just find it interesting if you have a loaded wallet. For someone like me, travelling on a budget, the shops kept triggering my shopping instincts and my wallet kept curtailing my pursuit of purchases and as a result – my “happyness” too!
It was post shopping that we decided to take the 1km walk to the Matri- Mandir. Surprisingly despite the hot sun, I did see some interesting sights and glimpses of nature’s beauty en route.
You need special passes to go into the Matri Mandir, which we did not have. After looking at the Mandir from afar, and clicking enough pictures we were soon on our walk back to the Center. This was a rather uneventful walk save for one refreshing memory. Solar – cooled lime juice! What the concept was behind this I do not know, but the absolutely chilled lime juice to our parched lips after the walk in the sun, was nothing short of manna from heaven. They also had solar- powered tea , which obviously we did not even try, considering we also just had direct access to the solar heating from above.
We gave our shopping bags and umbrellas some well-deserved rest and were soon on our way to the
city of Pondicherry. More about that later…. A bientot!