A newcomer describes in a letter her 7 year
old son's first encounters with Auroville .
Seeing India through a child's eyes gives a different perspective
on this new place where I have landed with Vincent. During the
taxi ride from the airport to Auroville, he said: "Mammy, I
don't understand the traffic rules here. They drive on the wrong
side!" after which he fell asleep. As soon as he got out of
the taxi, he immediately started taking pictures of all the
insects around the large banyan tree of our new guesthouse.
Meeting many strangers who are all speaking different languages
was difficult for the shy Vincent. Then luckily he met Theo, who
has lunch there every day, and who has an "eternal' supply of
"Gummibaerchen', a favorite German sweet, in his pocket.
Vincent's first English words were, 'Sweets please', with a grin
on his face.
After a two-week stay
in the guesthouse, Vincent and I have found a nice room in a
private house. It is very close to Transition, the school that
Vincent will attend. We can use the kitchen and prepare our own
meals. This is a relief because in the guesthouse he hardly ate
anything like rice and Indian soups because they were not
familiar. There is also a swimming pool here and he has made
friends with an 8-year old Indian boy who also lives here in the
house. Within a few days he learned to swim on his own.
In the meantime Vincent got a new cycle (much cheaper than in
Germany) and has learned to ride around. He has met another
newcomer kid, the 6-year old Jorne from Holland, who also just
arrived. It immediately clicked between the boys, and often they
go to the beach together during the school holidays.
Finally the first
school day arrived. He was pretty scared about this, especially as
everybody there speaks English. But luckily he already knew two
other boys: Jorne, and Chandran, an Australian-German boy, who
helps him with translations. He got a school partner, Kareem, who
is German and who is always at Vincent's side to explain him
everything. The schoolroom looks beautiful, his teacher Nicoletta
is very nice, and with a good feeling I left. When I came back at
one o'clock to pick him up, he has already eaten in the dining
area. It looks like the first school day went well.
The next morning he
starts crying before going to school. Only with some promises of a
reward could I get him to school. When he comes home, he tells me
that school is stupid, or maybe just a bit stupid. But then he
tells that pretty soon he will be much better in Tamil and French
than me. He enjoys the computer classes and the German lessons,
but also the Body Awareness, the arts and crafts, music. In the
afternoons he goes to sport. I already notice that I will hardly
see my child!
Now a few weeks
further on, I see that Vincent is adapting well to his new
school.His English is improving, he understands it quite well but
is still shy to speak it, and he enjoys his math and computer
classes. He has made several friends, saw a huge snake, plays with
the big dogs in the house and seems to be a happy 'newcomer' in