Back Home: Anne

even the small steps make a difference in the bigger picture.

I was born and raised in India, in Salem and then later Pondicherry. My parents were missionaries here so I studied at the Lycée Français and spent my childhood here. When I was 17, my parents left India, and I ran away because I didn’t want to leave. At that moment, I didn’t realize why it was so strong. Everyone just said ‘Oh, she is a rebel kid,’ and I started to believe that.

I had never heard of Auroville, despite being close to it when I was growing up, and I only got to know it when I visited a friend who was Aurovilian, 20 years back. When I arrived here, it was clear: I was back home, I had to be here. It was such a strong feeling. With this realization came the biggest challenge of my life, which was my decision to stay – to follow this calling. You see, at the time, I was pregnant with my third child and I wanted to give her the gift of being born in India, like her mother. My other two children were back home. In the end, I have not been in touch with the child I gave birth to when I returned. The father took her. It was my decision for India.  

The first ten years I worked hard in the forests, digging and planting trees. I read the book ‘The New Species’, and many other books of Satprem. These contained the answers to my questions: What are we here for? What is the point of all of this? The New Species is about this new being, which will be born. Before reading this book, I was already aware of this somehow. I always felt that I had to prepare the path for something else, something that will come. In daily life, that is shown in small things, so like with technology for example, the question for me is how I can use it efficiently without being taken over. Another example: I always grew my own vegetables, I am conscious about my consumption. I did this already in France and here I do this even more. All of this is the Yoga in the matter, the Yoga of daily life. It might be small but even the small steps make a difference in the bigger picture. 

I would not say that there is anything different here, from living in the outside world; I lived there what I am living here now. However, in the outside world I always felt that people looked at me weirdly, questioning me: Why do I look like that? Why do I raise my kids differently? And so on. In Auroville, there are a lot of weird people living an unconventional life, so there is less judgment. Here, you can really go deep into anything without the social constraints, experience the difficulties and the love. There are monsters, amazing people, and a lot of magic. Everything is represented.

But let me stop there. I don’t try to describe Auroville normally, especially to strangers. When I go out of Auroville, I am not promoting it, because I believe that people need an inner call to be here and that is not something that I can bring. I had the situation a few times where people ask me where I live and I say Auroville, and they later come back after doing some research and say: ‘But that’s such a special place,’ and I simply say, ‘Yes.’ I am not a good promoter at all (laughs). 

What drives me here, every day, is work. I am a worker, it is what makes me get up in the morning, knowing that there is work to do, and as I am a willing servitor of the Divine, I get to it.  At the core, living in Auroville means to me to pull up your sleeves and do the best and maximum that you can. It can be challenging. For many years now, I have been active in the Service sector. The Services in Auroville are not seen and acknowledged for their contribution by everyone in the community. My challenge is to show that all aspects of Auroville have their beauty and value. Even though I am working in the Service sector, I don’t say this work is better, more beautiful, or bigger, compared to something else. What is important for me is to see that every aspect is beautiful, because it is. All is a part of Auroville. So this is an enormous challenge to communicate, and sometimes I get angry and defensive, which of course doesn’t help. But I learned here, that despite my challenges, I too am a Divine being. The same as how everything is a part of Auroville, so too are all these aspects a part of me. “

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