Circles in the sand
It's a weird thing, this
growing up business. I am still trying to grow up, but my life clock
tells me I'm all grown now. I experienced life in Auroville and India as
it wove a rich tapestry of archetypes in surreal situations. Ultimately
we are seeking the thread of sense in our own life. Being a child in
Auroville is to know the ground beneath your bare feet, and that, is to
own your world. We roamed the landscape and water holes discovering.
Later, I remember the discomfort of pre-pubescent existential angst; I
sat with a stick in the cashew topes drawing in the pink sand, wanting
the waves of life to carry me away from myself. Growing is changing. I
left the world I knew and ventured to America.
Walking bare-foot in Oakland
was a pokey affair of industrial "mulus". Our woodworking shop
produced a quantity of: screws, sharp wood and metal filings, all
unpleasant to step on. The glass blowers and polishers in the adjacent
building also spilled waste glass that glistened in the aisle ways, not
to mention Bruce, who made frivolous yet inspired art from an disorderly
old mess that leaned around haphazardly in and out of his room. We lived
above our workshop in a lovely, dilapidated compound of warehouses that
are rented as studios. It is located in the industrial part of the West
Oakland ghetto. I learned to work for a living; which means being
organised to survive away from familiarity. Preferring to leave office
work for the satisfaction of physical work I became a house painter and
then a carpenters helper. I met Paco and joined his team. Years later, I
would work in our office paying bills and haggling the various insurance
agents we were forced to maintain. My life was fulfilling an endless
list of priorities. I began to think I was leading an insect's life, of
bringing in the food and taking out the garbage.
Across the street Mad Dog,
Brown and some other homeless folk, began living in an abandoned camper.
They occasionally worked for the Cole Brothers (Floyd and Maurice), the
Auto wreckers' our other neighbors. Their yard is filled with cut up car
bodies, spilled engines, burning tires, and heaps of parts, the soil in
their yard is a greasy grey black. An old truck loaded with slightly
compressed cars' lives in front of their yard.
Brown failed to maintain any
order or cleanliness in his domain, and finally, despite the friendship
his proximity had encouraged, I remember wishing that he be gone. I had
been reminding, and threatening him for many months to maintain some
form of order in vain. In the end I saw myself, pregnant shoveling his
rubbish, while unsuccessfully trying to coax him into helping me, as he
sat in his house, probably drinking beer and shooting up. Well, it
wasn't too long after that that the city came down and towed the van and
scraped the dirt bare of debris. We took this as a godsend, so together
with our neighbor Steve the granite sculptor and Katherine, we began
landscaping the area. Holes were drilled through the remnants of the
concrete sidewalk for the camphor trees, which we planted shortly after
Isa's birth. We periodically sowed seeds of Californian Poppy, sunflower
and clover along with random plantings of excess garden plants.
I never felt far from
Auroville. The stream of Aurovilian friends and acquaintances passing
through our loft was continuous. Despite my apocalyptic environment, I
lived a parallel existence with Auroville in my head and heart, and
treasured that I had actually been given the chance to "live"
and not just survive, like so many I saw. My peers were so beaten by
life's heavy stick and molded by TV's expectations that Auroville's
promise was like a fairy tale on a cynic's shelf when I spoke of it. I
missed the clarity of the absurdity in the life I had lead, I now longed
for the waves of life to carry me back to myself. After fourteen years,
I am more than grateful to embrace my childhood kingdom once again, and
to watch my children unfold in it.
My beloved Auroville, to
know the orange earth, the mulus and weeds, to drag a stick through the