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Always Close to Auroville: Surya

Being born and brought up in and around Auroville makes it like a larger home for me.

I was born in the green belt area of Auroville, in a village called Edaiyanchavadi. I lived with my parents and the extended family, about 15 people, and then in summer many cousins would come and visit – it was always a full house. My father was not really ok with the idea of Auroville, and there was a difference between the two families, mom’s side and dad’s side. On mom’s side everyone is into Auroville and most people have joined already, but my dad didn’t like it. She even applied to become an Aurovilian, but my dad told her to stop her process. As long as he was alive, he was against the idea of Auroville.

Despite this, I started schooling in Udavi School, an Auroville Outreach School where they had been taking in students from the villages surrounding Auroville. Udavi School offered different perspectives on education apart from academics. We had theatre improvisation, dance, carpentry, electronics, swimming, Awareness Through the Body, Play of Painting, languages and so much more. After 6th grade, I slowly moved to After School, because my uncle was running it. He insisted that I join after Udavi. I was not on good terms with my family at that time, so I lived with him for a year, in his guesthouse, and I got to meet more Aurovilians. Then around 15, I went and stayed with other friends from high school. I was making pizzas in different places for years, so I had some money to put in and altogether we could rent a place to live like that.

All the schools from Auroville had a common sports ground called Dehashakti. I started playing basketball there, got really into it, and made friends with many Auroville kids there. It made me feel part of this place even more. We would come for lunch at Solar Kitchen on Saturday and volunteer in different places, it was warm and welcoming all the time I was here. At some point we had a team registered with the Basketball Association of Pondicherry, the Blue Stars, so we could enter organized tournaments. After two years of playing basketball, we were registered for the national selections. Two of us from our team were selected to represent Pondicherry at the National levels for the next three years. Unfortunately I tore a ligament in my knee; I miss basketball, but I can’t run anymore like before.

My relationship with my parents improved over the years. They wanted me to do a Bachelor’s in Commerce after high school, and I had always wanted to run a business, this is always how I saw myself. So I went to college in Pondicherry. I had the chance, in Auroville, to question that decision, to explore more. At that time I did some workshops here and there, got into geography a bit, sustainable development. I learnt a lot of things, but nothing was really feeling right. 

My dad passed away when I was 21. We started struggling for basic things, so I was just out of college and with the money I was making with the pizzas I could not sustain myself or the family. I went looking for a job around Auroville, but they always asked me to volunteer first. That was not possible for me. Finally I met Stephan and the next day I came in and started working here at auroville.com. I learned to take care of my own part of the job here, and I enjoy it, I can grow here. I am still responsible for my family also, and I only just became an Aurovilian, so yes, there is a lot to take care of financially.

For me, that is the core of it. In the time that I was having trouble at home, different people in Auroville supported me. I have always been supported by someone or the other. At some point this community meant more than family. So now it is happening, I am becoming part of that. Being born and brought up in and around Auroville makes it like a larger home for me. A community life with people from different backgrounds, traditions, and cultures united together; it teaches you to work as a team, share resources, knowledge, and so much more.

I had a difficult situation and I see more people around me in situations like that, but I am grateful that there were always people who helped me with what I needed, and I think Auroville has that quality. I want to contribute to that. There is a feeling of wanting to give.”

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