by Anika Mahansaria and Pritha Nag
Auroville, the city of sustainability, welcomed us (the 7th and 8th graders), as we took a trip down south to visit the entirely sustainable and experimental town. The town uses all the waste in innovative manners. For instance, they use human waste as manure. We had an eventful and hectic couple of days planned for us, and although we couldn’t have been more tired at the end of the days, so many new friendships blossomed during these five days. The 7th and 8th graders were met with visiting forests, swimming in mud pools, meditation, visiting farms, petting cows and surprise birthdays! Not to forget, going vegetarian for five whole days! (And vegan for one day!) Here are some of the highlights…
We stayed at a guest house that was home to many dogs and other animals. The guest house was well equipped with everything we needed and more. Our guest house had lovely stray dogs, that came to visit our dorms, and we made friends with some of the animals. Each morning, began with an ‘Awareness Through Body’ session that was immensely fun for everyone. We learned how to be at peace with our bodies, and how we have control over our bodies. We spoke with Mr Henry, who thoroughly enjoyed the session’s opinions on the ‘Awareness Through Body’. “I thought it was a really good way to start off the day!” He, Amir, didn’t force people to listen or be quiet, but encouraged everyone to make the choice to listen.” When asked what inspired you the most from the ATB Mr Henry’s reply was “The bean bag game. (Everyone had to pass multiple bean bags in a fixed order, and remember that order when different factors were added.) Because there was just such a nice flow. There was all this craziness, but at the same time, everybody had their attention on multiple things coming from different directions,” says Mr Henry.
On our visit to the Sudhana forest, we had the option to go swimming in a mud pool. A handful of us took the meandering walk down to the mud pool and then went swimming. It was absolutely crazy! Our faces, eyes, body and hair were completely covered in mud. We had piggyback races and kept falling because of the slippery mud on the floor. People played throwball matches with a mini tennis ball, and everyone threw mud on each other. It was an extremely memorable experience. We were all absolutely disgusting afterwards, but had an amazing time! After that, we had to have a shower in a sustainable shower and had to get dressed in the dark. This experience might have been a bit peculiar but it was definitely unique and unforgettable.
The next unforgettable experience was the surprise joint party we threw for Sufia and Prisha. They both have birthdays fairly close to each other in December. We had come up with the plan of the party two weeks prior and on the day everyone handed out invitations in secret, decorated the lunch hall and even had pizza planned! Everyone was in on the surprise but Prisha and Sufia! Several people kept them distracted, to not go near the lunch hall or see any of the decorations. Prisha and Sufia were so pleasantly surprised, so we decided to get their opinions on what they thought of the event. “I was very surprised. I thought it was a very nice thing for you guys to do it! I’m very grateful for everyone who did that, and put effort into it! It was just such a perfect ending to camp” Says Prisha, who was one of the people the party was thrown for! Both the girls, initially thought that the party was thrown for the other, and were surprised when they realized it was thrown for them both.
On one of the days, we met cows! We got to feed cows and pet some foals. We visited two forests: the forest in Sadhana forest and then Annapurna Farms. We met cows in both places, and this was the first time some of us had seen cows up close, and some of us even got to pet the cows. All of them had different reactions to seeing us, some stayed calm, some attacked us, and some just ate. “This experience really opened my eyes and made me realize that animals also have feelings. I got to touch the cows, and then I thought ‘wow I’m eating these animals who have lives’. That really opened my eyes.” Says our anonymous source. It truly was an eye-opening experience, and it was lovely meeting and making friends with the cows.
And our final highlight was friends. Auroville wouldn’t be the same without them. Everyone had such a blast, having everyone hanging out in our dorms, laughing till we almost threw up (some of us did), and dancing and singing our hearts out. “It was just so much fun having fun in the dorms!” Says Tanvi, a 7th grader who thoroughly enjoyed the camp. “I felt like we got to grow so much closer to so many people that we didn’t even know that well!”
Our camp was a very memorable, unforgettable and different experience, that most of us are going to keep with us forever. Our experience in the sustainable city was a huge eye-opener for people like us who come from bustling cities with a totally different atmosphere. We’ll hold this experience with us forever, and still laugh about it.