Talking about the weather



January 3td, Auroville, India


Yesterday I was standing in the kitchen at International house talking to Tashimi, one of the women working here. We talked about the weather; I guess some subjects are topical in all languages.

In the local language Tamil sun is called sury, when speaking about mare Tashimi meant the rain. But when I asked her how you say snow in Tamil, she looked confused, did not know what I was talking about. Understandable though Auroville has 300 days of sun, and the temperature never go below 24 degrees °C. A word for snow is not particularly needed here.

In an intercultural communication perspective it is interesting to see the how the local language and how the people living here are adapted to the life in south India. The words spoken exist for a reason, they explain and communicate the place where they were found and the place where they are spoken.

Also practical things are adapted to and even built for this place. As for example how the light switch is installed on the outside of the door, instead of on the inside, as it is in Sweden. This because then you are able to see if there are any snakes inside before you put down your foot down on the toilet floor or stretch your arm after the light switch.

There is even a non-vegetarian section in most of the restaurant menus’, because here it is an exception to order meet and not vice versa, as many of us from the western world are used to.

People in Auroville are really skilled at make use of what they got. For example by upcycling already use material to beautiful and useful things and using solar energy. Because of the unreliable grid in Tamil Nadu, there are more advantages using solar energy than just for the environmental sake. To let solar energy stand for the majority of your power supply, you get a more reliable supply of electricity to your house without reappearing unexpected power cuts.

Through my experiences in Auroville I have also seen examples of how it can be when it is the other way around. What can happen when we are not paying attention to the environmentally conditions. The cyclone last year opened the eyes of people working with the Auroville forest. It reminded the people at for example the forest Putchandiculum they planted the wrong things, the trees were not suited to grow here. One the workers at the forest said a beautiful thing, that can summarize this post; “The trees suited, help you live in that area”.


Anna Kjellerstedt, Linnaues University, Sweden

The story of B


It was back in 1972. I was teaching a course in eastern religious disciplines at a small School in California. One day in class. a question came up about Sri Aurobindo. At that time, I didn´t know anything about him or his work. I got curious, and asked a friend if he was familiar with the subject. He said; you do not know? He is the man who did it all, you better educate yourself fast. And I did.

I started by reading a book by Robert McDermott, a summary of the work of Sri Aurobindo, published in connection with his 100 anniversaries.

(Sri is a more formal title of a spiritual leader. Sri Aurobindo, was originally from India, taken to England for education. When he came back he started taking active interest in the politics of India’s freedom struggle from British rule. He wrote all these texts, influencing the freedom movement. 

Later, spiritual experiences guided him to a life dedicated to spirituality and yoga. He withdrew from the politics and moved to Pondicherry, Tamil nadu, where he evolved a new method to spiritual practice, he it named the Integral yoga. 

You know, Yoga means connection. It is about life, all life is Yogi. Life is a continuing phenomenon, beyond words. With words, you are stuck in one language, stuck in your mind; you need to go behind the mind to understand life, the magic of life. Sri Aurobindo meant the world needs a balancing force.)

It was in this period I first heard about Auroville. I went to the culture center in Los Angeles, were I met a women who told me about the mother and about Auroville and, how the mother influenced by the ideas of Sri Aurobindo planned creating a place which would serve as a beginning of this balanced force. She said they are going to do it. I was totally impressed; I felt I had to found out more, I had to go there.

I was a filmmaker at that time and I decided to do a film about Auroville.  I contacted a new age film company in the states, who at first were interested of my idea. But in the last minute they changed their mind, asking me to go to Bali instead and screen a film there. I knew if I had gone to Bali, life had come in the way, and I had probably never gone to Auroville. So I went to Auroville anyway.

It is a sad story actually, I came to Auroville and it was nothing there. Just bare land, no water, no trees, nothing. The people where walking down to the sea, collecting water and carried it back up on their heads. There was no place to hide from the sun. The only thing we could do was to plant trees.

I´ve lived here since. I am 72 years old, I enjoy it, if I had not lived all these years, I would not be able to do what I do now. I like the feeling of walking around in Auroville and see all these things I have been a part of creating, trees I planted and houses I built.

Written by Anna Kjellerstedt, Linnaeus University, Sweden