Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 272 Mamalapuram

Mamalapuram is well known for its stone carving - both the ancient variety and the modern version displayed by many shops around town. Though also the ancient ones look very modern at times: Disco gods! New yoga positions for 8 arms! Dancing with a water buffalo mask, club in hand! Obese putti hovering above it all!
Some of the temples around are from the 7th century and most were not built but carved out of the rock. But even without all this the area would be very nice.
And this being a very touristy place I organized some stuff I will have a hard time finding anywhere else: sunscreen, mosquito repellent and shoes in my size - after 9 month my flipflops gave up: goodbye my old friends, you served me well!

Day 271 Auroville - Mamalapuram

Sunburn! Autschn! It seems that 2 weeks in the office made me lose more tan than I thought. After a few hours of cycling my arms and my face acquired the colour of a female baboons butt in heat. Fortunately my cycling ended in pretty touristy Mamalapuram (a.k.a. Mahabalipuram), which means: sunscreen is widely available.
From Auroville I just followed the East Coast road, which was very scenic at some stretches. At some point I rode along many salt harvesting facilitied, i.e. small lakes filled with sea water where the sun evaporates the water and leaves back the salt. I had troubles getting my phone working which meant no proper gps-navigation and I promptly got lost once. Not so bad though, just had to cycle back a few kilometres.
During my hunt for food in Mamalapuram the starry sky looked strange: Orion seemed so small! I realized that for the last weeks the jungle of Auroville would only allow me to see a very a small portion of the nightsky, now that I could see the sky in its full glory everything looks very different.

Day 257 - 270 Auroville

Wow, for the last 2 weeks I have been living a more or less 'normal' life - getting up in the morning to get to work and stuff... And I tried to enjoy as much as possible of Auroville's offerings. During the first days the women's performance festival was going on - which meant: usually two international performances every evening, some of them really great.
After the festival ended it got a bit more quiet, but there was still plenty to prevent getting bored.
At work I programmed a new player for the websites of Auroville Radio (which should be online soon at ) using flash, php, xml, javascript - all of it stuff I have either used last time about a decade ago or never. But that's what I wanted, some brainwork after so much bodywork. And I was quite successful at it!
After some house shifting during the first days I lived most of the time in Mitra youth hostel - mostly inhabited by people much younger than me, many of them architect students as Auroville is kind of a Mekka for experimental architecture. In the first week I shared the room with the great Mr.
Suleman 'Lucky' Khan, actor, writer & bansuri player.
One thing I did all 3 sundays was listening to the russian bells and later joining in. To hear them look here: - between 56:30 and 62:00 you can even hear me perform: it is the bell mistress Vera on high bells and me playing the low bells.
I met a french couple who are travelling on recumbent bikes. I had a try at one - at first it is like learning cycling again from the start but after some minutes I wanted to have one, too - it is very very comfortable and I guess you have a much better position for enjoying the landscape. Hmmmm, maybe that's something for the next long tour, whenever this may happen. Both Melanie & Fabien were very nice people to chat and share cycling and non-cycling experiences with and both have blogs (en francais):
I tried to do all interesting activities at least once: I went to the introductory concentration in the Matrimandir - the huge golden globe in the very center of Auroville. You are greeted by white robed female and male guardians and ordered to be silent before you are allowed to take the spiral walkway up to the central chamber - a cool white room with a crystal orb in the center, surrounded by columns which end into nothing. There you can sit down on one of the matts and start concentrating, whatever that means to you in particular. As a newcomer I was only allowed for a 15 minute session. I had planned to come back for a longer concentration, but in the end I was to busy.
I also took part in a session of laughter yoga, which was wonderful, funny (obviously) and surprisingly exhausting!
On my last evening I went to the
Om choir, which was great because one girl with a very loud voice deliberately prevented all upcoming harmony by always ommming half a tone beside the possible harmony - for me this made the whole thing very exciting but she possibly destroyed the experience for all those that were in search of simple and modest harmony, gnihihi.

And we were creative, too: Most of our last weekend we spent
using some basic radio facilities to record this music: (bluesharp & webdesign by Trabant!) The recording was finished on a day when Jupiter, the crescent Moon and Venus hovered in one straight line on the western sky - whatever that means.

Now I finally have some real plans: I will cycle through India about 2 month more month, meeting fellow cyclists Mr. Erick & Mr. Yannik on the way in Hampi. I will make it up to Gujarat and have a look at my old home in Vadodara. From there on I will slowly think about coming back. Travelling is great, but there are many people I miss at home. During your travels you meet many many very nice people, but most of them you won't see again after the next morning - I really miss some social interaction which lasts longer than that. Sooo I will take an airplane to Europe around beginning of June. But I want to cycle home, so I will fly to somewhere a bit farer away - probably Vienna. From there it will be 2 more weeks of cycling through the beer country (Budweis! Pilsen!) before I will roll down Elster to arrive home mid of June -  anyone wants to join for that last part (or part of that last part) :o)?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Day 255 - 256 Auroville

Uuuh, I like this place. It feels like I am here on a will-work-for-culture
agreement. I will stay for about 2 weeks doing some programming for
Auroville Radio. After so many body challenges it is good to finally have
some brain challenges again. And in the evenings: culture. At first this
town seems to be crazy but maybe they really focus on the important things:
on one hand side there are nearly no paved streets, only sand/dirt tracks
through the jungle, after sunset everybody is carrying a torch because
there are no streetlights,... but on the other side there is a abundance of
very nice, modern, clean performance spaces - every evening something is
going on. The last 2 evenings I have been to cuban theatre (en español,
only understood un pocitititito), norwegian theatre in English (a woman
playing mens roles and that in a very convincing way), a french female a
capella trio (singing old georgian songs - interesting but not as great as
I had expected) and a tabla & sitar rendition in a huge auditorium (a tabla
player who was taught by the one and only Ustad Zakir Hussain!!!) which I
found by accident on the way to dinner because so many motorcycles were
parking at the entrance. Of course there are also many offers for those
searching spiritual enlightenment, but I have been too busy practising the
yoga of work and enjoying music to go on this quest. Everyone is really
relaxed here - and this statement is in no way to be understood in the
- way!
On my first day I had some problems finding accommodation and had to stay
in a nearby village (which was nice though). But now I am settled and can
enjoy all the facilities of Auroville. This lunch I was so enthusiastic
about the organic food being prepared with solar power only that I ate way
too much, my stomach still feels stuffed.
Oh, and there is nearly no mobile connection in Auroville. Don't expect too
many blog entries in the next 2 weeks - I will be too busy for writing

Day 254 Auroville

Relaxed sunday. The first activity besides sleeping and reading
was,watching a performance of Russian plate bells. Wonderful instrument.
And the best thing about it - at some point people from the audience were
allowed to join. Guess who did ? I want a set of this bells, now!
And there are other news: today Trabant drew the winners of the Haiku
lottery! From 12 poems (of which 9 were more or less Haikus) the following
are the winners:

In deinem Auge
Ich seh die Göttin des Lichts
So klar wie ein Fisch

Eine Fischsuppe,
die Göttin der See im Tel-
ler, welch' Augenschmaus

Weder Fisch noch Fleisch
Sag mal Nein zum "Augen"-schmaus
Die Göttin dankt es

And what could suit the end of the Haiku-lottery-day more than a
performance of japanese dance, accompanied by shamisen, both very (VERY!)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Day 253 Puducherry - Auroville

I spent the day in Auroville - a futuristic experimental town. That is, futuristic in a 70s sense. Its center is the Matrimandir - the shrine of the mother - big, round, golden. The mother was the companion of well known guru Sri Aurobindo and she is the one who commissioned the whole place. It is supposed to become a place where people from all over the world can live and work peacefully together. And it is all based on the spiritual writings of Sri Aurobindo - which I don't know at all. Even though this might all sound a bit too esoteric the whole thing is supported by UNESCO. One thing I really like about the place is their strong focus on sustainability. As I was searching for accomodation I saw a note that the local radio is searching for volunteers who know about sound editing and computer programming. Sounds like me :) I will check with them on Monday and if it works out I might stay here for a week or two. In the evening there was a concert - the local Aurovillean Rock Band playing mixed-quality renditions of everything between the Stones and Lady Gaga.