How did you arrive in Auroville?
By Caravan. When I wanted to come to Auroville, I wrote to {Auroville International France}. They wrote back to me saying that if I bought a plane ticket, I could throw it out the second I got here. There were 30 other people who wanted to come to Auroville, and if we pooled the money in, we could buy a bus, and once we arrived, we could keep it.  

How did that work? Being in a caravan?
We bought an old German Bus, we took out the backseat and made a kitchen and even a toilet. We had a van in which we were supposed to carry the luggage and other equipment. On the way we discovered that there was too much luggage, so I had to go back to Paris and unload the {tatami}.
On the road, we had a meeting every evening. This was in ‘74 (not so far after ‘68), so we always had a minority and a majority. We were fighting each other. We would record our meeting and play the recording at the start of every new meeting. So every meeting always began with the fighting from the last.

Did you know the people who came in the Caravan with you?
I discovered and met them in Paris before the trip. Because we had to go the Embassy to get the visa. We fought even before the trip began, as some people wanted to visit Venice. We said, “we are not going to Venice, we’re going to Auroville”. Some people wanted to sight-see, but we were in hurry.

When we arrived in Afghanistan, I was in the van, and another guy was driving. We accidentally banged into an Afghan man, and he broke his leg. So our van was taken away, and we were kept there It was a small village of maybe 10 houses and a jail. The Caravan had no idea that we had stopped, as we were behind them in a separate van, and it took them quite a while to realise that we weren’t behind them.

They knew that we would not try to escape anyways, because our van was filled with all the Caravan’s belongings. In the evening, the Head of Police called us into a small room (no furniture, nothing, only a carpet). Someone had explained the situation to him, but he invited us to tell him the truth. He was very kind and even invited a Rubab (Afghani Instrument) player to play for us while we ate a dinner of trout with him. That was our first night in Afghanistan. We were invited to sleep indoors but we were afraid that the van would be robbed so we slept there instead.
The first thing I discovered there was how they make their naan (roti bread).

After about a month spent in Afghanistan, the injured man was walking again, and we were free to go. We had to pay them, which was covered by our insurance. During our time in Afghanistan, our papers were taken, and some were lost.0But we got through somehow. Once we got to India, however, we were stuck in Amritsar, where they parked and wrapped our van like an Indian parcel. We called the Society to help us, because they even had representatives in Amritsar, but they didn’t care or come to see us. In Afghanistan, I hadn’t felt like I was in jail. I had one of Mother’s books and I was reading and enjoying my time while y friend suffered. But in Amritsar, I was blocked and I felt suffocated.
We decided to abandon the Caravan and travel the last leg of our journey by train. We went to customs, they opened our van, let us take everything and closed it back up.

It was the 6th or 7th of January, during Pongal, so the trains were full. Even though we had booked places, there was no place to sit. The police would get the non-ticket-holders out. The train would stop 200 meters outside the station and all these people would get back in.
The food for me was impossible. Chilli, chilli, chilli. And when it was not chilli it was ginger. So I purchased carrots, the type they have in the north. So good. Violet. So juicy, they’re not carrots, they’re fruits. I had 2 kilos which I ate on the trip.
And that’s how we arrived in Auroville.

How was it when you arrived in Auroville? Did you have any ideas in your mind about how it would be?
It was beautiful. There was nothing around, but everything was so beautiful. I didn’t touch the ground for two-three days. I had a friend here who gave me a hut. I was very very very lucky. I arrived, I had a hut. I remember I was invited for dinner, and I was told :listen, you just arrived and you have a hut. There have been people who have been here for so long. It would be nice if you give it away”. I said “I don’t know, it’s not my hut, I will ask my friend”. My friend said “Don’t give it! You never know when you’ll get another one”.

Another time, it was Satprem’s birthday and we decided to make a tart in the bakery and  surprise him. When I came back I was a meter above ground.

Is there something that you strongly remember from the beginning? Such as how certain things were handled?
Well, quite quickly after I arrived, I went to jail. Twice. So there were not enough houses, and the chairman of the Society was occupying quite a big one. On top of that, he was there only occasionally. And there were people who really had nothing. So we decided that we should open it and put people inside. But after Independence, India still had British laws.  And one law was that if someone had a belonging in a house, you couldn’t throw it out. And it was also at the time of the emergency. So the Society went to the police. They came one night and took us to the jail. We even had to push the bus that was taking us to jail to start it up as it wasn’t working.

When we arrived at the jail, there was a problem, because there was a woman among us. They wanted to put her in a different cell, but she wanted to stay with us, so we refused to enter the cell unless she was with us. Finally she was allowed. It was another adventure because I was with my friends. Yes, it was uncomfortable - we slept on cement, but it wasn’t dramatic. When they came to give us the food, we smelt it before we saw it. It was horrible. Quickly it was arranged that a nearby restaurant would bring us food. So very soon we had a cooler full of drinks outside our cell. Many people looked at us like we were zoo animals. On the third day, people from Auroville brought us food.

The second time we went to jail, the Society wanted to arrest the ‘ring leader’. The police had a list of about 20 people. When they arrived, we were all waiting under the Banyan.  When they asked for names, nobody gave their names. The Society members pointed them out but we all surged so they were just randomly grabbing 20 people. When we thought they would leave with these 20, everybody jumped onto the van. So all of us went to jail, even children. At the jail they tried again to get our names. The French Consul was also there. He told us to tell him where our passports were so that they could get them before they were seized.
On top of that, we had to buy the lock for our own jail cell.

What would you say has changed since you arrived?
What has changed is the comfort. When there was nothing, there was nothing. Most of the people then were working, planting trees. You are sweating, you enter your bathroom and there is no water. Electricity was rare. Candles are nice for a dinner, but after a while you are tired of them.

And what has not changed?
Everything has changed. I mean, when we arrived we were 20 or 30 years old. Now we are 75. Nothing is the same.
One thing; I knew nothing about anything, but I spoke like I knew everything.
What has not changed is that to get something done here, we have to speak to this person, speak to that person, to speak, to speak, to speak and nothing gets done.

What inspires you to wake up in the morning and to continue this journey in Auroville?
Sri Aurobindo and Mother. Without Sri Aurobindo and Mother there is no Auroville. It’s tough to be in Auroville. It is not easy. I’ve seen people who belive that we are on holiday all the time, because we were having lunch on the lawn - this meant we were on holiday. For the outside, we are on a permanent holiday. But no, it’s tough to be in Auroville. Because you get bang and banged.

I believe we don’t do any yoga.  What I have read from the yoga of Sri Aurobindo is “start where all the others stopped”. And we are not at this level. So I can’t say I am doing the yoga of Sri Aurobindo, because that is really something.
But what I can say is that I am a rough rock that has been thrown at the source of the Ganga river, and when I finally emerge in the sea, I will be a finely polished stone.

The Mother takes care of me. She really takes care of me. I feel like I am walking the wire with no net under. But Mother will not let me fall. When I arrived here, I had no money, and she gave me everything. Everything that I have, has been given to me. I don’t even have a Pour Tous {local grocery store} account. There is no Pour Tous account in my name. The account from which I buy things starts at zero at the beginning of each month. It goes minus, minus, minus and then starts from zero again the next month. This way I cannot save to buy myself a TV or anything. And this works well for me. I give my work to the Mother, and I can't be deceived. Because she knows what I need.

Please complete this sentence; “Living in Auroville means to me..”
Everything. Yeah..I don’t know what to say...Everything.