A summary of happenings from the last 7 days…
1. Experiencing Auroville – a planned Utopia built in the dust of N.East Tamil Nadu, about 15km north of Puducherry and inland from the Bay of Bengal. Auroville is a concept community, built by two visionaries in the 60’s to “help humanity move beyond its present limitations into the next stage of its evolutionary adventure, the supramental consciousness.” Riiiiiiiight. This is out there, even for me (given recent events). Based on really great intentions, Auroville just comes across a little bonkers and cultish. You must sign up to a waiting list a few days in advance, and the intro video you have to watch before you may enter the Matrimandir is like that bit with Richard Attenborough at the start of Jurassic Park, felt just as prophetic and just makes it feel, all, theme park’y n’that. Sorry (not sorry).
Access granted, we got to visit the Matrimandir, the “soul of the city”, a giant gold golf ball looking thing with truly beautiful architecture, but lots of rules on how to enjoy it – wholly alien to anything I’ve ever seen in India, or anywhere for that matter, and a bit like a space ship, but utterly magnificent nonetheless. “The Inner Chamber in the upper hemisphere of the Matrimandir is completely white, with white marble walls and deep, white carpeting. In the centre sits a pure crystal-glass globe which suffuses a ray of electronically guided sunlight that falls on it through an opening at the apex of the sphere.” Now THAT was a sight to behold, if you look past all the eccentricities, and don’t speak, or touch that, or walk there, and put on the socks, PUT ON THE SOCKS!
2. Back to Chennai (Tamil Nadu), where it allllll began just under 4 months ago. A chance to reminisce on my first impressions of India, and how much has happened since we all drove out those gates of the Leela Palace in convoy – missing my dear friends and family back home, and my fellow Dumballers.
3. A sweaty and fond farewell to Denso and Jim, aka “Team Ginger”, as Denso leaves India with another soon-to-expire Visa, this time heading to Nepal and the next stage of her journey, in more ways than one. So much to say about the last 100+ days, but she knows it all already. Bonne chance mon amie!
4. Reaching Hyderabad, (the capital of the southern Indian state of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh) and with it the first low point on my trip. Suddenly struck with an irrational fear and vulnerability from being alone in a big Hydera-bad city. The pollution/smell/traffic so bad it gave me a nosebleed! Pathetic and panic stricken I followed my gut and made a plan to run away, fortunate enough to be able to throw money at the problem – not before I’d had a word with myself: There I was – a western affluent woman, with a passport, free to explore the world, not burdened with the stress of working, hoovering the stairs, or having to go to Tescos, suddenly rendered inert by my own imagination and concept of “fear”. Whilst the feeling was real, what do I really know of fear? Come the f**k on Holliday, chin up and crack on.
5. Quote: “I Am an Old Man and Have Known a Great Many Troubles, But Most of Them Never Happened.” Mark Twain
6. Heading North, I arrived in Kolkata in West Bengal this morning, immediately feeling more comfortable despite the 3am heat. Yellow Ambassadors queued up neatly outside the airport – a familiar sight and a warm welcome. Excited to be in one of my Dads favourite cities (when captaining for BA), which makes me feel closer to home, and heaps keen to explore all his recommendations tomorrow.
7. Writing this from Royal Guest House, Kolkatta, watching Life of Pi with a glass of Old Monk in hand – hello old friend!